Sunday, May 22 in Bakersfield
President Clinton addresses final day of UFW convention that focuses on the union’s organizing gains and global initiatives
Thousands to greet former President Clinton at Sunday’s UFW session
Bakersfield, Calif.—Thousands of farm workers and supporters will hear former President Bill Clinton cap the United Farm Workers’ 20th Constitutional Convention Sunday afternoon, May 22 at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Convention Center. Meanwhile, delegates, alternates and guests spend Sunday marking progress in improving farm worker lives through both proactive union work and exciting new global initiatives across state and national boundaries as globalization transforms agriculture. Convention highlights on Sunday include:
7:45 a.m.: Catholic Mass with Bishop Richard Garcia from the Diocese of Monterey, Calif. honoring the five UFW martyrs, four men and one woman killed during strikes.
9:45 a.m.: Address by Tom Steyer.
10:15 a.m.: Address by California state Senate leader Kevin De Leon.
10:45 a.m.: Report on the last four years of UFW organizing: http://www.ufw.org/_board.php?mode=view&b_code=16_news&b_no=18266&page=1&field=&key=&n=5
—New UFW contracts, mostly in tomatoes, resulting from union organizing: Pacific Triple E, 450 workers, Stockton and Merced; Gargiulo Tomatoes, after 350 workers in Firebaugh walked out on strike and voted for the UFW; Amaral Ranches, after 300 Salinas Valley vegetable workers struck and voted for the UFW; San Joaquin Tomato Co., 350 workers in Madera; Papagni Fruit Co., 200 wine grape workers, Madera; Arnaudo Bros. 40 workers, tomatoes and other crops, Tracy.
—UFW-organized strikes in 2015 & 2016: Stellar Distributing, 400 fig workers, and Specialty Crop, 200 fig workers, both in Madera (workers won modest pay hikes); O.P. Murphy Tomato Co., 150 workers in Hollister (pursuing negotiations); Cedar Point Nursery, 350 workers in Doris, Calif. near the Oregon border; Klein Management, 400-plus blueberry workers, McFarland.
—A total of 240 Ventura County workers at Hiji Bros. celery company and Seaview Growers nursery voted for the UFW in April 2016.
—Fighting to implement a state-ordered mediator’s contract for 5,000 tree fruit workers at Gerawan Farming Inc. while re-negotiating a second union contract.
11: 15 a.m.: Report on UFW global initiatives to protect farm workers in other states plus Mexico, Central and South America.
—As globalization is transforming agriculture, the UFW is organizing to remedy miserable farm worker pay and conditions and produce safer, higher quality food while meaningfully improving wages and other protections. The UFW co-founded the Equitable Food Initiative (equitablefood.org, EFI), a multi-stakeholder certification for fresh produce. EFI standards require growers to provide workplace protections and working conditions exceeding current legal requirements. Board members include leading food safety and environmental stewardship organizations, farm worker advocates, growers and Costco.
—In response to farm worker calls to be able to find work away from their communities without having to pay illegal recruitment fees, the UFW assisted in the creation of the CIERTO organization. An independent non-profit, CIERTO identifies, trains and dispatches workers in Mexico to farms both in Mexico and the United States. CIERTO works with farm employees and employers on both sides of the border to ensure no worker has to pay for the right to work, to stabilize the workforce and eliminate intimidation in the process.
—The UFW is partnering with a coffee farm in Nicaragua and two specialty coffee roasters to increase worker earnings while providing greater supply chain transparency. The UFW facilitated worker and management training that results in greater worker stability and the production of higher quality coffee.
—The UFW-launched Forced Labor Program tackles labor trafficking, debt peonage and slavery in U.S. agriculture. It uses education, outreach and collaboration with law enforcement to boost reporting, investigation and prosecution of labor and human rights violations. It also connects victims with social services and helps them obtain T visas (for human trafficking victims). The “Reportalo” element of the program raises awareness through social media, PSAs, a toll free number and a mobile app, all to report violations.
2:15 p.m.: Address by former President Bill Clinton.
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As the convention marks progress for today’s farm workers through contemporary UFW achievements they are also linked to historic 50-year milestones the union is celebrating around the movement and Cesar Chavez during 2016. For details, see: http://www.ufw.org/_board.php?mode=view&b_code=16_news&b_no=18264&page=1&field=&key=&n=3