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Momentum builds as 5,000 to join final leg of 24-day, 335-mile UFW ‘March for the Governor’s Signature’

Seven state lawmakers march Monday in Lodi

Sacramento, Calif.As its momentum is growing and its ranks are swelling, some 5,000 farm workers and supporters prepare to join a core group of peregrinos (pilgrims) on Friday, August 26 as they finish their grueling 24-day, 335-mile penitential “March for the Governor’s Signature” up the Central Valley in triple digit heat from Delano to the west steps of the state Capitol. The August 3 to 26 peregrinacion (pilgrimage)—along the same route as a historic 1966 Cesar Chavez-led trek—aims to convince Governor Gavin Newsom to sign AB 2183, the United Farm Workers’ bill making it easier for farm workers to vote in a union free from intimidation by grower foremen, supervisors and farm labor contractors.

Marching last Saturday was Martin Luther King III, whose father, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stood in solidarity with Cesar Chavez during tough times in the 1960s. As many as 1,000 greeted the marchers that day in Stockton in 104-degree heat. Joining on Monday are: California Latino Legislative Caucus Vice-chair Sabrina Cervantes, Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Reyes, Assemblymembers Luz Rivas, Wendy Carrillo, Alex Lee, Jose Medina, Rudy Salas, Mike Gipson, and Jose Medina; Santa Clara County Supervisor and San Jose mayoral candidate Cindy Chavez, and Riverside city Councilmember Clarisa Cervantes.

Some 19 permanent farm worker peregrinos (pilgrims) endured the entire length of the peregrinacion, foregoing income, time with family, and the comfort and security of home to embark upon this burdensome journey—in temperatures frequently exceeding 100 degrees—that sorely taxed them physically and mentally.

Community enthusiasm across the state built as hundreds greeted marchers along the route and joined end-of-day rallies in valley farm towns. Committees in each town through which the march moved provided food, water, cold drinks, shoes and other supplies, plus housing. Nurses tended to marchers. Supporters from near and far turned up to hand out water, drinks, and food as the peregrinos passed by.

Newsom vetoed a similar measure last September. What’s different this year is broadening public support for the UFW drive and sacrificial march, including solid backing by the California labor movement under its new head, Lorena Gonzalez, as well as union, religious, and community leaders, activists and organizations.

Who:             5,000 farm workers and supporters prepare to join a core group of peregrinos (marchers) led by UFW President Teresa Romero plus lawmakers and labor, faith, and community activists and leaders.

What:           Conclusion of the 24-day, 335-mile March for the Governor’s Signature.

Where:  Southside Park (at Guadalupe Church), 8th & T streets, Sacramento 95811

When:          Friday, August 26, Assembling at 9 a.m., walking at 10 a.m., then rally on state Capitol’s west steps.