Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farmworkers Union (UFW), today blasted the $11.1 billion water bond on the November ballot in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"The water bond that was recently approved by our lawmakers will give agricultural companies billions more in subsidized water," said Rodiguez. "The state treasurer has asked the right question: Why aren't these giant ag industry operators paying for their water like everyone else?"
Rodriguez's eloquent slam against the water bond rammed through the California Legislature by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger completely negates the argument of corporate agribusiness "Astroturf" groups, such as the Latino Water Coalition, that the battle against the water bond and the peripheral canal is a conflict of "fish versus people" or "fish versus jobs."
In reality, the campaign to restore the Delta, stop the peripheral canal and defeat the water bond is a conflict between the vast majority of people - including farmworkers, fishermen, Delta family farmers, California Indian Tribes and environmentalists - and greedy agribusiness corporations that don't care about the health and safety of their workers or the thousands of workers and fishermen unemployed because of the Central Valley salmon collapse.
"The $800 million per year in annual bond payments required under the new water bond is more than California spends on health care for farmworkers and their children, more than the entire worker-safety budget, more than on farmworker housing, more than on pesticide regulations and food safety. In fact, it's more than all those things added together," noted Rodriguez.
Why is the UFW opposing the bond? "We don't believe that the giant agriculture corporations should get more subsidized water until farmworkers get the right to protect themselves, including the right to clean and fresh drinking water," explained Rodriguez.
"We see a clear and ironic link between a state government unwilling to enforce its own laws protecting farmworkers, a governor vetoing legislation to allow farmworkers to protect themselves, and a Legislature that bemoans budget cuts while giving the agriculture industry water subsidies at a cost of $800 million every year," said Rodriguez.
Last year SEIU and the Teamsters Union put $1 million into a UFW "war chest" to fight Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's water bond. The groups fighting the peripheral canal and water bond were eagerly awaiting an official announcement by UFW against the water bond - and that announcement took place today.
In the New York Times on April 17, 2009, Rodriguez condemned the Latino Water Coalition's "March for Water" for being a "farmer march orchestrated and financed by growers.”
The UFW joins a growing group of conservation, fishing, environmental, tribal and family farming groups opposed to the water bond's bailout to corporate agribusiness. Everybody who cares about the future of California fisheries and Delta farms and the thousands of jobs that depend on them must applaud Rodriguez for speaking out against the budget-busting water bond!
To read the article, go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/22/ED7U1BUUH3.DTL.