San Joaquin County — “We are slaves in the U.S.” said Jose Garcia, a resident of Stockton, during a general meeting with United Farm Workers Union (UFW) at the Comisión Honorifica Mexicana (Honorific Mexican Commission) on Wednesday, March 7th.
“UFW continues to find ways for better working conditions,” said Armando Elenes, UFW San Joaquin County Unit Director. For 50 years, UFW has defended farmworkers’ rights and this year a new change is taking effect: “the bucket only needs to be full up to its rim [not over flowing over the bucket’s height],” explained Elenes. “You were asked to over flow the buckets before [surpassing their height] forcing an average of 300 free pounds of product per worker a day… That’s not the case anymore!”
Every year farmworkers discuss working conditions, UFW analyzes the information to establish recommendations with the goal of improving agricultural jobs. Presently, UFW is establishing contracts: “We hope to reach an agreement with ACE Tomato and Pacific Triple E,” explained Elenes, adding that the two Stockton companies are collaborating with good faith.
“It’s nice to know that companies are conversing with the union, hopefully an agreement is reached, improving our community’s quality of life,” said Gracie Madrid, and activist and resident who attended the meeting.
General Counsel of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board, Sylvia Torres-Guillen, was also present, and extended her support: “You deserve the respect and protection of the law… If you need help visit my office.” The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board is located at 916 Capitol Mall, Third Floor in Sacramento; you may contact the office at (916) 653-2690.