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Walk for Farmworker Justice

The Walk for Farmworker Justice took place in Oregon from June 18-25. IMC Portland, cooperating with KBOO, provided daily coverage of the event with reports in text, photo, video and audio. This feature will continue to be updated as more content is produced from the raw material that was collected.

Participants in the Walk included people from immigrant, labor, religious, human rights, community, small farmer, environment, and youth organizations [ List of endorsers ]. Their goal: to bring NORPAC, an Oregon agricultural cooperative, to the bargaining table with Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), Oregon's farmworker union.

The list of labor abuses committed by NORPAC growers is long, but includes low pay, no breaks, exposing workers to carcinogenic pesticides, overcrowded and overpriced housing, lack of proper toilet facilities, and child labor. Workers who have attempted to claim their basic rights are met with discrimination, firings, evictions from grower-owned housing, mechanization of harvests, anti-farmworker and immigrant law proposals, and threats of physical violence.

Earlier in June, the Walk Coalition issued a formal invitation to NORPAC to sit down and talk, but NORPAC declined it [ Full Story ].

MONDAY, 18 JUNE:
The week was kicked off with a non-violence workshop at the base camp, and speeches and dinner at the Centro Cultural Community Center in Cornelius. Though the spirit was generally up-beat, news reached Walk organizers that two venues for events later in the week had backed out of their committments due to pressure from NORPAC
[ Full Story, with photo ].

KBOO Evening News story:
Anchor intro: "Beginning this week, the 'Walk for Farmworker Justice' begins its tour of the upper willamette valley. The coalition is comprised of religious, labor,youth, environmental and human rights organizations. The goals of the march include bringing national attention and support to the farmworkers in Oregon who continuously face challenges of fair labor issues. according to the organizers of the march, farmworkers often work long hours without breaks or overtime, the wages they receive are very low, and many workers are exposed to pesticides and other harmful chemicals. KBOO's Will Levin and Pat Mcdade are participating in the march. They give us an update from Molalla, the start of the event."
[ Download and listen to the MP3 ]


TUESDAY, 19 JUNE:
On Tuesday, the Walk officially began, and over 100 people marched through Cornelius from the Centro Cultural Community Center. Outside of town, the Walk stopped to address workers in the strawberry fields, who make only 15 cents for every pound of fruit they harvest. The small number of people in those particular fields that day led some to wonder if NORPAC had sent the majority of workers elsewhere that day
[ Full Story, with photos and discussion ].

Several members of the Walk also visited one of the farmworker camps, and saw the unhealthy and unsafe conditions in which many farmworkers live
[ Full Story, with photos | Photos of camp ].

KBOO Evening News story:
Anchor intro: "The Walk for Farmworkers' Justice began on Tuesday. The tour of the upper Willamette Valley is comprised of a coalition of labor, envvironmental, and human right organizations. The March is focusing on bringing national attention to the plight of Oregon farmworkers. KBOO's Dennise Kowalcyk spoke with Will Levin last night about the latest on the event."
[ Download and listen to the MP3 ]


WEDNESDAY, 20 JUNE:
Walkers marched along the Salem-Dayton highway today [ Photos of march ]. A vanguard of walkers communicated with farmworkers and a representative from one of the area owners [ Full Story ]. In the early afternoon, the walkers marched to Camp Torres, where they stopped and spoke with a manager for Willamette River Organics. The activists and the manager talked in depth about many issues. The conversation became tense at times, but was for the most part civil
[ More, as posted to the Newswire | Audio ].

KBOO Evening News story:
Anchor intro: "The Walk for Farmworker Justice is on Day Two of a week-long march around the Willamette Valley. Here's KBOO's Pat McDade and Will Levin with more."
[ Download and listen to the MP3 ]


THURSDAY, 21 JUNE:
Walkers took a break from marching in the morning for a set of educational seminars at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Woodburn. In the afternoon, they marched through town to the PCUN headquarters, stopping at FHDC (PCUN-sponsored, farmworker-controlled housing) on the way. After a short break, the walkers marched further, out to Valor High School. In part because this was a youth-centered day, the crowd of walkers was the biggest it had been all week.
[ Photos of march | More info on FHDC ]

VIDEO of Monday through Thursday events [ Watch video ]

FRIDAY, 22 JUNE:
Marchers gathered on the periphery of Kraemer farms, the largest member of NORPAC, and were able to show their solidarity to workers in the strawberry fields. The march continued through the town of Mt. Angel, whose economy is heavily dependent on the agriculture of the surrounding area. A delegation from the Walk Coalition met with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to discuss two bills currently on his desk
[ Full story, with photos ].

KBOO Evening News story:
Anchor intro: "The March for Farmworkers Justice is in its fifth day, and today featured a meeting with Governor John Kitzhaber as well as more interactions with campesinos in the Willamette Valley. The meeting with the governor included at least seven leaders and march participants. Among them, PCUN President Ramon Ramirez, march organizers Marion Malcolm and Don Bryant, Michael Gale with the Oregon Law Center, and Eliazar Rivera Garcia with the United Farmworkers Ministry. The organizers urged the governor to oppose a restriction on minimum wage benefits which would make it hard for non-english speakers to sue for money they were owed, and House Bill 2411 which would exempt the children of farmworkers from seat belt protections. They also discussed the problems with Picsweet and Norpac, companies that will be the object of protests later in the week. Finally, they lobbied support from the governor for their march on the capitol. KBOO's Pat Mcdade called in this report."
[ Download and listen to the MP3 ]


SATURDAY, 23 JUNE:
The day started in Stayton with a lively piece of street theater on the FTAA [ Photos: hi-bandwidth | lo-bandwidth ]. After that the walkers marched [ Photos: hi-bandwidth | lo-bandwidth ] on the NORPAC plant [ Photos: hi-bandwidth | lo-bandwidth ]. The number of walkers swelled for a march on Pictsweet later that afternoon [ Photos: hi-bandwidth | lo-bandwidth ]. The Walk was joined by a surprise guest: the Mayor of Salem, who decried the labor practices of the mushroom producer, and vowed to use his powers to do something about it
[ Story on Mayor's speech | Full story on Saturday's events ].
[ VIDEO of Saturday events ]
SUNDAY, 24 JUNE:
The final day of the march was marked by the biggest crowds yet, as at least 600 descended on the capitol building in Salem for a march and rally. Labor leaders from around the country were among the speakers, as were Mayor Swaim of Salem, and Governor Kitzhaber
[ Photos: hi-bandwidth | lo-bandwidth ].
[ VIDEO of Sunday events ]
KBOO Evening News story:
Anchor intro: "Participants in the Walk for Farmworkers Justice rallied on the capitol steps in Salem, Oregon. Ending a week-long trek through the fertile Willamette Valley, the coalition of religious, labor, youth, environmental and human rights organizations marched to draw attention and support to the farmworkers' struggle for justice and the right to bargain collectively. K-BOO's Pat Mcdade and Will Levin have the story."
[ Download and listen to the MP3 ]




IMC Portland enjoyed working with KBOO to provide coverage of this important event. KBOO is listener-supported, volunteer-powered, non-corporate radio. KBOO provided updates on the Walk during the 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. news shows at 90.7 in Portland, 92.7 in the Columbia Gorge, and 100.7 in Corvallis/Albany.

[ Full Details of Event | PCUN website | Walk For Justice website ]

MULTIMEDIA CONTENTS:


VIDEO:

Mon-Thu

Saturday

Sunday


AUDIO
from

Evening News broadcasts:

Monday, 18 June

Tuesday, 19 June

Wednesday, 20 June

Friday, 22 June

Monday, 25 June


PHOTOS:

Tuesday-Cornelius

Wednesday-Unionville

Thursday-Woodburn

Friday-Mt. Angel

Saturday-Stayton, street theater
hi-bandwidth & lo-bandwidth

Saturday-Stayton, march to NORPAC
hi-bandwidth & lo-bandwidth

Saturday-Stayton, NORPAC
hi-bandwidth & lo-bandwidth

Saturday-Salem, Pictsweet
hi-bandwidth & lo-bandwidth

Sunday-Salem
hi-bandwidth & lo-bandwidth

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