Delano, Calif.—With the fight to preserve voting rights against voter suppression underway nationwide, California farm workers are staging a sacrificial 24-day, 335-mile peregrinacion (pilgrimage or march) from Delano to Sacramento during the heat of summer to convince Governor Gavin Newsom to sign their bill giving farm workers protection from intimidation in elections to choose a union. Today, they must nearly always vote on grower property, amidst cynical voter suppression through abuse and intimidation by foremen, supervisors, and labor contractors.
The “March for the Governor’s Signature” will be led by the standard of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the U.S., California, and black-eagle United Farm Workers flags. Twenty-five full-time marchers will join 500 workers and supporters at 8 a.m. on Wednesday August 3 to kick off the trek at the farm workers’ historic “Forty Acres” complex in Delano, where the union began 60 years ago in September 1962. It ends at the state Capitol on August 26, which Governor Newsom proclaimed as “Farm Worker Appreciation Day.”
The state’s labor movement is behind it because it should be easier, not harder, to vote for a union free from intimidation. When Lorena Gonzalez took over as California Labor Federation head at its convention last week, she announced plans to join the march herself and squarely placed the state AFL-CIO’s clout behind the UFW bill and march—along with the Firefighters, Teamsters, SEIU, UNITE HERE, AFSCME, the UFCW, and other unions. Gonzalez also welcomed the UFW’s return to the labor federation.
Fresno Catholic Bishop Joseph Brennan is marching and calling on the faithful in all diocese parishes to support and participate in the pilgrimage. Also sharing plans to join as the march progresses are elected officials; civil rights, immigrant rights, faith, and student activists; artists; and community leaders and activists.
Volunteer town committees have formed in the two dozen towns along the march route to receive, feed, and house the marchers each day. The march route traces the path of the historic Cesar Chavez-led 1966 peregrinacion that first brought the farm workers’ grievances before the nation’s conscience.
Who: Twenty-five permanent marchers, UFW President Teresa Romero, UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres, 500 workers and supporters.
What: Kick off of 24-day, 335-mile march to get Governor Newsom to sign a bill strengthening farm worker voting rights.
When: 8 a.m. blessing, 8:30 a.m. march starts (ends that day in Richgrove, Tulare County).
Where: “Forty Acres,” 30168 Garces Hwy. (at Mettler Ave.), Delano, Calif. 93215.