Washington, D.C. – Today, in celebration of Cesar Chavez Day, 12 farm workers, UFW Foundation Chief Executive Officer Diana Tellefson Torres, and United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero met at the White House with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senior Advisor to the President Julie Chávez Rodríguez and Department of Labor Solicitor Seema Nanda. The farm workers traveled from California, Washington, Georgia, Michigan and Arizona, representing the nation’s largest agricultural states.
The farm worker delegation participated in a roundtable discussion on the issues affecting farm workers. The UFW and UFW Foundation members communicated their priority asks of the administration, including protecting immigrant workers from deportation, disaster relief funding for farm worker communities, additional funding for the Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) Program, and stronger workplace protections for farm workers, including H-2A agricultural guest workers.
“On Cesar Chavez Day, we recognize that the mission of Cesar Chavez and the UFW is as urgent as ever,” said UFW President Teresa Romero. “Today – just as 60 years ago – we believe that the workers who feed America deserve better. And only by increasing worker power in the fields, orchards, farms, and vineyards of America can we build an agricultural economy that works for the workers and not just for the owners. We are grateful to have President Biden as a pro-union partner along with others in the Biden-Harris administration in improving the lives of farm workers.”
“Today and every day, we recognize the workers who toil tirelessly to put food on our tables,” said UFW Foundation Chief Executive Officer Diana Tellefson Torres. “Farm workers are the backbone of our nation’s food security and their hard work and dedication must be recognized. We thank the Biden Administration for their support of the men and women who are the unsung heroes of our food system, especially for creating the Farm and Food Workers Relief Program to provide pandemic relief for farm workers who sacrificed so much. That said, we must do more. Together, we can ensure farm workers have a voice, the support and protections they need to continue feeding our nation.”
“This meeting at the White House is an opportunity for us farm workers to represent our community and all the other farm workers who didn’t get the chance to be here today,” said Bryan Pantoja, a fourth-generation farm worker and college student from Georgia. “Farm workers are the backbone of our food system and we need to let our leaders know that we are counting on them to protect us from exploitation.That’s why we spoke to the Biden Administration about our struggles and what the administration can do to support us. This means not cutting farm worker wages but rather increasing our pay, enacting workplace protections, providing disaster relief, and ensuring that farm workers are treated with dignity and respect.”
“Not only do we need the President and Congress to understand that farm workers need better pay and better working conditions, but we also need support from the federal government during environmental disasters,” said Maria del Carmen Quintero, a farm worker from California who has worked in agriculture for 42 years. “Rainstorms, such as those we saw in California this year, and other climate disasters tremendously impact our ability to work and feed our families. Farm workers are on the frontline of the climate crisis, facing extreme conditions like heat, freezing temperatures, pesticide poisoning, and so much more. We need lawmakers to act on the best interest of the men and women that help put food on everyone’s tables.”