Friday, January 13, 2006

Farm Worker Movement’s story frozen out of L.A. Times coverage

Farm Worker Movement’s story frozen out of L.A. Times coverage
United Farm Workers

The Los Angeles Times is running a series of inaccurate, dishonest and untrue articles by reporter Miriam Pawel because the movement’s side of the story was frozen out of her coverage despite supplying extensive, detailed information and unparalleled access over many months refuting specific inaccuracies and distortions she ended up writing. The UFW’s limited resources mean the union can’t be every place where there is need in California. So it focuses on the Central Valley and Central Coast, the greatest concentration of farm workers in America.

Thousands of farm workers benefit daily from the United Farm Workers’ efforts:

• 32 election union victories, most in California, since the current organizing drive began.

• Dozens of UFW contracts including the largest strawberry, rose, winery and mushroom firms in California and the nation plus victories in other states.

• Over the last decade, the UFW has dedicated up to 50% of its resources to organizing, among the highest of all unions. Donations provide key support for organizing.

• Ongoing UFW organizing faces stiff resistance, as evidenced by the state of California ruling in November that last summer’s election at the giant Giumarra table grape vineyards could be thrown out because of the grower’s illegal actions.

• The UFW has helped tens of thousands of farm workers through recent legislative gains: the 2005 regulation to prevent heat deaths; the 2002 binding mediation law; seat belts in farm labor vehicles; remedies for workers cheated by farm labor contractors; new pesticide protections; and AgJobs, the historic immigration reform bill to aid hundreds of thousands in farm labor.

The Farm Worker Movement is continuing the legacy of its founders, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who believed the movement had to go beyond the work place through non-profit, independently-run groups with distinct missions and staff.

•The nine-station, three-state Radio Campesina network mixes Mexican music with extensive educational programs for 300,000 daily listeners. Radio Campesina blankets the highest concentrations of farm workers in the nation.

• More than 1,900 of 3,500 amenity-rich affordable housing units serving about 10,000 people are in farm worker areas in the Central Valley, Arizona and Texas.

• Community organizing efforts where farm workers live are improving the lives of thousands in the Salinas and Central valleys and in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

• The Cesar E. Chavez Foundation empowers and equips tens of thousands of young people.

Less than a dozen of 400 committed movement employees are family members; just four hold policy-making positions. Many spent decades as full-time volunteers and work hard for modest pay. They all serve without compensation as board members. Arturo Rodriguez is elected UFW president directly by farm workers.

UFW Website

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