Over 3000 people gathered in Miller Park in Yakima Washington on Sunday for a rally to support farmworkers rights. This is one of the largest turnouts ever for United Farmworkers (UFW) Union annual event, which celebrates the solidarity among agricultural workers.
Representatives from several unions turned out to join the UFW. Organizations present included PCUN, The Service Employees Union, Allied Printing & Trades Union, and the Teamsters. Many of the groups wore AFL-CIO insignia. In addition, representatives from the Canadian Labor Congress, The Ontario Federation of Labor and The B.C. Government Employees Union spoke to the crown, pledged their support and expressed solidarity in the farmworker's ongoing struggle.
One issue of serious concern to farmworkers is Amnesty. The struggle for amnesty may be getting closer to fruition, as was explained by Arturo Rodriguez, President of the Washington State UFW. He spoke about the recent introduction of a bill into Congress & Senate August 2nd, authored by MA Sen. Ted Kennedy and CA Rep. Howard Berman, that would allow around 500,000 farmworkers who are now undocumented throughout the U.S., who have worked 90 days between Jan 1 2000 and July 1, 2001, to apply for legalization as temporary residents so they can pursue permanent residence status.
This will greatly strengthen collective bargaining efforts, give workers some sense of job security, and lift the burden of fear that they operate under every day. Farmworkers are the only labor group that is not covered by the regulations set down by the National Labor Relations Board.
On August 8th, US & Mexican Officials will be hearing testimony from farmworkers and supporters about workplace conditions and other issues important to trabajadores. The forum will take place at Yakima Community College starting at 9AM. For more information call the UFW at (509) 839-4903.