Washington, D.C.—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has invited former United Farm Workers president Arturo S. Rodriguez as her guest at the State of the Union address on Tuesday, evening, Feb. 3, in Washington, D.C. Monterey County farm worker and UFW Foundation member Pablo Martinez is attending as a guest of Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.).
Both lawmakers and their guests played key roles in House passage by an overwhelming bipartisan vote on Dec. 11 of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act that would let immigrant farm workers and their immediate family members earn the legal right to permanently stay in this country by continuing to work in agriculture.
Rodriguez retired as president of the UFW in late 2018, after 45 years with the UFW, the last 25 leading the union and helping it survive and make meaningful progress for farm workers following Cesar Chavez’s passing in 1993. As UFW president emeritus, Rodriguez continues helping the union maintain key employer, retailer and political relationships, and focuses on immigration issues. He returned to live and work with his wife, Sonia Rodriguez, in his native San Antonio, Texas.
A former farm worker living and working on California’s Central Coast, Martinez labored in the fields of Monterey County for 16 years alongside his parents, harvesting and cultivating grapes, lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, onions, garlic and tomatoes. He attended Hartnell Community College extension in King City, graduated in 2019 with his associate of arts degree in communications from Monterey Peninsula College, Rep. Panetta’s Alma Mater, and is president of the Dreamers in Action Club at Monterey Peninsula College.