In June 2001, the Walk for Farmworker Justice focused attention on the trials and tribulations of farmworkers in Oregon's Willamette Valley, most of whom are Latino migrant workers. The religious- and labor-led coalition that organized the Walk demanded, among other things, that NORPAC, a corporate farmer cooperative, "come to the table" with PCUN, Oregon's farmworker union, to negotiate better pay, working conditions, and living arrangements. NORPAC refused. Hundreds of people participated in the week-long Walk and thousands were exposed to its message. In partnership with KBOO community radio, portland indymedia produced daily video, audio, photo and text reports from the Walk, providing more comprehensive coverage of the event than any other media outlet. |
Now, a year later, after additional pressure and campaigning, Oregon is arguably a better place for farmworkers. In February, NORPAC agreed to come to the table to negotiate with PCUN and PCUN dropped its ten-year boycott against NORPAC. In April, Governor Kitzhaber vetoed a bill that would have eroded farmworkers' rights to organize. There is much to celebrate. However, there is still much to do. The Pictsweet Mushroom factory closed in November rather than recognize PCUN. Immigrant rights are still under assault, especially since 9.11. A Republican-controlled statehouse under the influence of corporate agriculture will likely attack the farmworkers again.
The Farmworker Justice Coalition plans to make these Walks an annual event.
[ Details of this year's Walk | portland indy coverage of last year's Walk ]
[ Farmworker Justice Coalition | Pi?eros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) ]