Strawberry commission, labor rally for immigration reform

10/01/2013 01:42:00 PM
Mike Hornick

The California Strawberry Commission and United Farm Workers separately held or planned rallies backing immigration reform as diverse stakeholders in agriculture sought to bring renewed attention to the issue in Congress.

More than a dozen elected officials and community leaders attended the commission’s Sept. 26 event at Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center in Santa Maria, Calif. Participants signed a petition that commission delegates were to take to Washington, D.C.

“It’s important that we continue to let Congress know that we stand united as a community that embraces immigrants as an essential part of our economy, society, culture and history,” Lorena Chavez, a Santa Maria strawberry grower and commission board member, said in a news release.

Chavez was part of a delegation that went to Capitol Hill in July. The Watsonville, Calif.-based commission reports a season-long labor shortage that’s resulted in some strawberries going unharvested. There’s been no estimate on the size of the losses.

United Farm Workers plans its own California rallies Oct. 3-5 in support of what the union calls a National Day of Dignity and Respect. Farm events are scheduled in seven counties: Monterey, Ventura, Kern, Tulare, Fresno, Madera and Merced.

The union aims to get farm workers’ signatures on postcards urging House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, a Bakersfield Republican, to push for a vote on immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.

McCarthy has also drawn attention from management. United Fresh Produce Association, for one, encouraged members to contact the congressman.

Farm workers will post photos of themselves on social media sites using the hashtags: #FieldFotos, #TimeIsNow and #Oct5.



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