Historic Farmworker California Exhibit

 

HISTORIC STATE FAIR EXHIBIT RECOGNIZES FARMWORKERS
by David Bacon
Capital & Main, 7/25/17
https://davidbaconrealitycheck.blogspot.com/2017/07/historic-state-fair-exhibit-recognizes.html
https://capitalandmain.com/historic-state-fair-exhibit-recognizes-farmworkers-0725Cutting the ribbon at the farmworker exhibition (left to right): Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, State Sen. Ben Hueso, Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Freddie Rodriguez, Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez, Assemblymember Anna Caballero, State Fair CEO Rick Pickering (partially obscured), Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guera, State Sen. Ed Hernandez (partially obscured), State Treasurer John Chiang and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.For over 160 years the California State Fair/Cal Expo has been run by growers to showcase the wonders and wealth of the state’s agriculture. And for over 160 years the fair did this without mentioning the people whose labor makes agriculture possible: farmworkers.This year that changed. Rick Pickering, chief executive officer of the California Exposition & State Fair, and Tom Martinez, the fair’s chief deputy general manager, asked the United Farm Workers to help put together an exhibit to remedy this historical omission. As a result, for the first time the fair, which runs through July 30, has an exhibition that not only pays tribute to field laborers, but also acknowledges the long history of their struggle to organize unions.

Growers are not happy, and fair organizers got some pushback. But at the ceremony inaugurating the exhibition, State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the head of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, explained why they no longer have veto power. “We wouldn’t be here without the work of farmworkers,” he said. “The legislature now includes members who worked in the fields themselves, or have family who did, who know what it’s like to work in 100 degree heat, to suffer the hardest conditions and work the longest hours. We want our families to work in better conditions and earn more money.”

Some of the farmworkers who came as guests of the fair were veterans of that long struggle. Efren Fraide worked at one of the state’s largest vegetable growers, D’Arrigo Brothers Produce, when the original union election was held in 1975. However, it was only after the legislature passed the mandatory mediation law, forcing growers to sign contracts once workers voted for a union, that the first union agreement went into force at the company in 2007, covering 1,500 people.

D’Arrigo workers maintained their union committee through all the years between 1975 and 2007, organizing strikes and work stoppages to raise conditions and wages. “I’m very proud to see that we’re included here,” Fraide said, gesturing toward the photographs on the walls in the cavernous exhibition hall. “It shows who we are and what we went through. Si se puede!”

As the workers were introduced by UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, they stood up from their seats to applause. Rodriguez noted that some farmworkers, like those working at Monterey Mushrooms’ sheds near Morgan Hill and Watsonville, now make a living wage of between $38,000 and $42,000 in year-round jobs with benefits. “This exhibition recognizes that farm labor is important work, and that it can be a decent job if it includes labor and environmental standards. It can come with job security, and can be professional work,” he emphasized.

“What’s been lacking is an acknowledgment of the people who do the work,” charged Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, son of the capital city’s late mayor, Joe Serna, and nephew of former UFW organizer Ruben Serna. “This exhibition documents their political activism. We wouldn’t be here if it were not for the farmworkers movement.”


In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte
Photographs and text by David Bacon
University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte

302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9”
paperback, $34.95

 

Rough Waters: European Trade Unions In A Time Of Crises

by Paul Garver

ETUIJul17

This book analyses the development of trade unions in eleven countries (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK) since the early 2000s. The individual chapters focus on unions’ structural, organisational, institutional and discursive power resources. One feature in particular emerges from the turbulent European trade union landscape, namely the challenge of becoming politically more autonomous while long-standing institutional power resources are at increasing risk of being dismanteled or of losing their effectiveness. The book also includes a chapter on the changes and challenges of European trade union federations in times of crisis.

One of the co-editors of this anthology, Thorsten Schulten, occasionally collaborated with the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) when I worked for that global labor union in Europe.  He is a reliable scholar of the European labor movement. In the ten years since I retired and returned to the USA,  As Rough Waters elaborates in well-documented and exhaustive detail, European labor unions have not fared much better than U.S. unions during that decade.

Unless you are a graduate student in international labor, you probably will not want to read this book cover to cover.  But it is well worth dipping into if you are interested in specific national union organizations in Europe.  And the introductory and concluding chapters by the co-editors are judicious and useful.

And the price is right.  The European Trade Union Institute encourages free downloads of the research studies it commissions.   Go to https://www.etui.org/Publications2/Books/Rough-waters-European-trade-unions-in-a-time-of-crises

DSA Launches National Boycott Against B&H

by Maria Svart, National Director DSA

For 16 weeks, DSA members in New York City have been picketing every Friday and Sunday in support of hundreds of unionized warehouse workers fighting to save their jobs and win a contract at B&H Photo and Video. They’ve engaged in direct action, contacted city politicians, pressured the company on social media, produced flyers and videos and organized fundraisers for the campaign.

But B&H is a national retailer, with $2.65 billion in sales revenue – and so the campaign against them must be national too. That’s why today DSA is launching a new national boycott effort and website, www.boycottbnh.com, to tell the company: Settle a contract with your workers! End the exploitation!

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B&H is the largest non-chain distributor of media production equipment in the U.S. It’s also a notorious violator of workers’ rights with a long track record of inhumane working conditions and rampant discrimination. The company is currently being sued by the Department of Labor for racial disparities in hiring and forcing Hispanic workers to use segregated bathrooms, among other abuses.

Please visit www.boycottbnh.com today and sign on to the boycott of B&H Photo and Video to tell the company that you won’t stand by while it exploits its warehouse workers. Share the website on social media and tell all your friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances to sign on too. Remember to tag your social media posts #BoycottBnH.

The conditions under which B&H warehouse workers work are deplorable. These include

  • 5.5-day work weeks with frequent demands for 16-hour days but only a 45-minute break;
  • denial of ambulances when seriously injured;
  • exposure to asbestos, benzene, and fiberglass dust resulting in chronic nosebleeds and other complications;
  • lack of training on operating dangerous equipment like forklifts, powerjacks, and pickers, and on handling of hazardous chemicals like sodium selenite and ammonium bromide;
  • lack of basic safety equipment; and
  • coercion to sign away workers’ comp benefits after injuries.

During a 2014 fire at one warehouse, workers were denied access to fire exits so management could run them through metal detectors to check for potential theft.

The warehouse workers are fighting back against these abuses – but they need your help. Please visit www.boycottbnh.com now, sign on to the boycott and share the website widely. Use the hashtag #BoycottBnH. Tell B&H: End the exploitation!

After the 2014 fire, workers contacted the Laundry Workers’ Center (LWC) to help them organize and address their grievances. In November 2015, the workers voted to join the United Steelworkers to secure a union contract. Management has fought them every step of the way and now intends to close the warehouses where they work and relocate production to Florence, NJ, 75 miles away rather than settle a union contract.

On July 10, the workers delivered their response to B&H’s demand that they accept the move: No! Let the workers know you stand with them – and against union-busting – by signing on to the boycott of B&H Photo and Video at www.boycottbnh.com today. Then share the website with everyone you know using the hashtag #BoycottBnH.

While DSA has coordinated nationally on many labor campaigns in the past, it has historically played a supporting role. This boycott marks the first time in recent memory that it has launched its own coordinated national labor initiative. DSA is the driving force behind this boycott – and so it is critical that each of us do our part to see that it succeeds.

If you would like to get more involved in the campaign, please write to nyc.strike.solidarity@gmail.com, especially if you work for or are otherwise affiliated with an organization that does business with B&H. And remember to visit www.boycottbnh.com today!

In Solidarity,

Maria Svart, DSA National Director
http://www.dsausa.org/

boycott b & H

Facing Deportation for Showing Up to Work

Jobs with Justice

FreeRodrigo_hugo

Instead of celebrating Father’s Day with their children and family, beloved fathers and longtime U.S. residents Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nunez spent the special day in a detention center near Oakland, California.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has held Hugo and Rodrigo in immigration custody since May 3. That morning, their employer sent them to work on a new construction project at a hospital on the Travis Air Force Base. At the base, a military official detained and reported them to immigration officers. Now they fear the worst: that the federal government will deport them at any point and tear them away from their families and communities.

The devoted family men call California home and have lived in the United States for more than 15 years. Hugo is a foreman at S&R Drywall and a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and Rodrigo is a member of the Carpenter Union Local 713. The construction workers are local volunteers with deep community ties. Hugo lives in San Rafael with his wife, Yadira and his three young kids. His eldest children have been granted protection from deportation through DACA, and his youngest is a U.S. citizen.  He volunteers at his children’s school. Rodrigo lives in Hayward with his wife and his three young kids, all of whom are U.S. citizens. He is an assistant coach for his son Sebastian’s baseball team who also volunteers at his church.

Argued Hugo, “We don’t take anything from this country. On the contrary, we give to this country. It’s not fair to deport us.”

None of these facts have compelled the local ICE field office director to stop their expedited deportation cases or release Hugo and Rodrigo. ICE has full discretion to discharge them from custody so they can reunite with their families while reviewing their cases.

The Trump administration’s ramped up immigration policies could result in more of our friends and neighbors getting separated from their families as a result of reporting to work. Hugo and Rodrigo deserve to watch their children grow up and thrive.

If ICE deports Hugo and Rodrigo, everything that have worked to achieve to sustain their families could be taken away. And the loved ones they leave behind will experience an emotional and economic toll. The Urban Institute and Migration Policy Institute study found that a father’s deportation causes a family’s income to drop an average of 73 percent.

Hugo’s and Rodrigo’s detainment has caused a widespread outcry among labor, faith, and community groups, and elected officials. Jobs With Justice and our network of coalitions are supporting a #FreeHugo&Rodrigo week of action currently underway urging ICE to free both men and halt their deportations.

You can help keep up the pressure to reunite Hugo and Rodrigo with their families with two simple gestures:

1) Make a call to the San Francisco ICE field office to demand that Director David Jennings use his prosecutorial dissertation and release Hugo and Rodrigo now.

2) Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Call ICE Director David Jennings at 415-844-5503

 

Exploitation of Workers Making Ivanka Trump Shoes in China

by Paul Garver

ivanka trump shoes

These Ivanka Trump shoes retail for about $80 in the USA.

Many of them are manufactured at giant Huajian factories in Dongguan and Jiangxi, China.  There hundreds of shoe workers are paid about $1 an hour for work days often extending to 15 hours, with one or two days off per month.  No overtime is paid.  Wage slips are routinely altered by management to indicate higher pay than actually received.  Wages are docked and fines imposed on any worker taking a leave day.

Huajian produces shoes for other USA brands as well, but the Ivanka Trump label stands out because her dad has attacked China for stealing American jobs.

The China Labor Watch, a highly respected NGO that monitors labor conditions in China and whose reports are widely used to investigate violations in global supply chains, routinely assigns undercover investigators to work in Chinese factories and report back.  For 17 years Chinese authorities did not intervene.  Now three young Chinese investigators (Su Heng, Li Zhao and Hua Haifeng) are being prosecuted by the Chinese authorities for working in the Huajian factory in Jiangxi and reporting on labor conditions there.   They are currently out on bail, but have suffered from abusive conditions in prison and been forbidden to leave the country.

China Labor Watch has asked the brand retailers, including Ivanka Trump, to respond to and attempt to correct, the abusive labor conditions at their Huajian supplier factories.  None has responded at all (This is rare in the 17 year experience of China Labor Watch).

Ivanka Trump could at least ask the Chinese authorities to give the three China Labor Watch investigators a fair trial.

Keith Bradsher covered this story in an excellent article for the New York Times Business section on 11th July.  For further developments, consult the informative and reliable website of China Labor Watch at http://www.chinalaborwatch.org

 

 

 

Defend Right of North Carolina Farm Workers to Organize

International Union and Foodworkers (IUF)

 Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)

farm workers nc

Following a series of recent farm worker wins in the Southern United States, farmers elected to the North Carolina State Legislature are trying to use their legislative power to stop workers on their own farms from organizing for better wages and working conditions.

On June 28, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Farm Bill S615 with no debate. The bill aims to stop the progress that farmworkers are achieving by making it illegal for farmers to deduct dues from union members as well as making it more difficult for farmworkers to win union contracts.

US farmworkers are excluded from the National Labor Relations Act and other worker protections like minimum wage, child labor, and workers compensation laws, among others. However, through the efforts of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), farmworkers have won union contracts that include wage increases, job security, and improved working conditions. This bill aims to roll back this progress.

CLICK HERE to join FLOC and the IUF in calling on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to veto the bill. Your message will be sent by email to the Governor and delivered as part of a signed petition.

Trump, Right-Wing Populism, And the Future of Labor

Bill Fletcher jr.