Open Letter To UFWA President Arturo Rodriguez From UFWA Co-Founder Al Roja
|Open Letter To UFWA President Arturo Rodriguez From UFWA Co-Founder Al Roja On The 50th Anniversary Of The Delano 1965 Grape Strike
Dear brothers and sisters many of you for the last several months have been asking me whether I was invited or decided to attend the "UFW" 50th year commemoration of the Delano 1965 Grape Strike. Three days prior the event I received an invitation from, "Arturo Rodriguez." President of the "UFW" Union in so doing after consulting with my Family having sent our response have decided to share and to release publicly the letter that was sent to brother Arturo Rodriguez."Al Rojas
September 27, 2015
United Farm Workers
Unfortunately, me and my family will not be able to attend; however, it is my request that you read this letter at the 50th Anniversary of the Grape Strike and Boycott event.
No Time To Celebrate, Agricultural Workers In California and Mexico Are Still Unorganized!
The 50th anniversary of the Grape Strike and Boycott is important to address, but the reality is that the vast majority of farmworkers are still unorganized, more so today than before -- and they continue to face tremendous exploitation and discrimination. Today there is an anti-labor offensive not only against farmworkers but against all workers -- from postal workers who face privatization, to teachers who face charters and union-busting along with more segregation in the schools.
A critical lesson is that farmworkers need a democratic union in which the rank and file can elect their representatives, and all union officials and officers must come from the rank and file who are paid a similar wage. We need locals where the rank and file control their union and the working members are the elected representatives, locally and nationally. The UFW needs to end its reliance on the Democratic Party and on officials like Jerry Brown, who has been supported by labor yet then help the “farm owners” prevent unionization. The politicians are putting forward people like Driscoll’s chairman, Miles Reiter, who was appointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Both Republicans and Democrats take money from the growers and when push comes to shove they end up siding with the companies. We need to get Miles Reiter off this board for the way he has treated the workers in Mexico.
The UFW also needs to end its support of an indentured servitude "guest worker" outsourcing program. Unfortunately both the AFL-CIO and the SEIU, and other unions, have supported the so-called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” legislation (S-744), approved by the U.S. Senate, which included a “guest worker” program that sets up labor brokers in Mexico to recruit workers to be "union workers” as “replacement workers” in the United States. How would this help U.S. agricultural workers when, for example, the striking Sakuma workers, Familias Unidas Por La Justicia (FUJ) in the state of Washington, are faced with replacement "guest workers”? Already the FUJ has experienced employers’ use of replacing FUJ workers, using replacement “guest workers.”
We need to revitalize our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Mexico, not with a "guest worker" program but by supporting their struggle for independent unions and for direct action, and by building solidarity with them. The key struggle that we need to actively support is the strike by the Alliance of National State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice of over 50,000 workers. The U.S. government, through the immigration laws and support for union-busters like the Driscoll’s corporation, is helping to maintain virtual slave labor on our borders with wages at $7.00 a day. Our struggle is – and must be -- with our brothers and sisters and their families in San Quintin, Mexico, and with the Sakuma workers, Familias Unidas Por La Justicia (FUJ), in the state of Washington. They need our support through a boycott and also direct solidarity rallies and action between U.S. and Mexican workers. We face the same bosses and same corporate-controlled anti-labor governments.
It is not enough to "commemorate" the anniversary with talk. We need to support a mass organizing effort in the Central Valley and throughout California -- for the future of our families and children. We need to organize in our communities for the boycott of all Driscoll’s products, and to work for the victory for human and labor rights for our brothers and sisters in Mexico and against the use of reactionary U.S./Mexican laws that pit worker against worker and that prevent unionization on both sides of the border, which NAFTA has encouraged.
We have the power, and we need to build solidarity and education to win this struggle. The UFW must actively support the Driscoll’s international boycott campaign.
I would like to now add at a note on a more personal level: My family takes great pride and honor to have been part of the UFW Grape Strike and Boycott history. Our family, like many families, experienced great suffering during the movement, and the UFW has never shown any good faith or compassion toward my family to this very day. Me and Elena, and our children live with a great pain in our hearts that our family was so mistreated by the very union that we helped to found: The United Farmworkers Independent Union, founded in 1965.
Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers Union
Organizer - Grape Boycott - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Organizer - Tomato Strike - Woodland/Davis/Sacramento, California
[View the list]