Wednesday, August 31, 2011

UFW Marchers reach Lodi on way to Sacramento

12 noon Wednesday in Acampo
Farm workers, pesticide reform activists urge Gov. Brown to act on Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, overtime for farm workers at eight hours and against methyl iodide during march to Sacramento

LODI, CA - Farm workers nearing the end of their 13-day, 200-mile Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Now march to Sacramento join forces at 12 noon Wednesday with pesticide reform activists by calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to protect field laborers from the cancer-causing pesticide methyl iodide. Marchers will later be joined at 4 p.m. as they enter Sacramento County by around a dozen local labor and political leaders, including Mayor Kevin Johnson.

‘The Fair Treatment For Farm Workers Now’ march began August 23 in Madera. The march organized by the United Farm Workers, will end on Sept. 4th, Labor Day weekend, at the State Capitol. The pilgrims are pushing for the enactment of the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act and the right to be paid overtime after eight hours.
Sporting signs and chanting along the route, marchers will make a short stop in Acampo as farm worker, environmental and health leaders address concerns around methyl iodide. Recently released documents show a political appointee of former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved the pesticide over the recommendations of independent scientists convened by the state who warned of its dangers as it is linked to cancer, thyroid disease, kidney problems and miscarriages. Eight months after taking office, Gov. Brown has not acted to halt use of the toxic soil fumigant.

"Peak fumigation season in California's strawberry fields is just a few weeks away," said Kathryn Gilje, executive director of Pesticide Action Network North America. "Gov. Brown should follow the science, ensure fair treatment for farm workers and take immediate steps to pull methyl iodide off the shelves."

Joining the march at 4 p.m. as it enters Sacramento County on Liberty and Lower Sacramento roads will be Mayor Johnson, Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-Mountain View), Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza, Sacramento City Councilmember Kevin McCarty, West Sacramento City Councilmember Mark Johannessen, Sacramento Labor Council head Bill Camp and leaders of the California Democratic Party. The delegation will also include Four Waters, Carlos Alcala, Normal Alcala, and Angelica Tellechea, some of the elected leaders of the California Democratic Party."

The march, which culminates with a state Capitol rally on Sunday, is aimed at telling the governor he can no longer delay acting against farm worker abuses. In his June 28 message vetoing SB 104, the United Farm Workers-sponsored bill making it easier for farm workers to join unions , Gov. Brown wrote he was "not yet convinced" he needed to sign the measure, also known as the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act.

"'Not yet' is not soon enough for the workers who face continued perils from extreme heat, methyl iodide, unfair wages and threatening employers," said UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez. "Gov. Brown can take one critical step to protect farm workers by banning methyl iodide."

Last week it was revealed political interference undermined science in approval of methyl iodide, called "one of the most toxic chemicals on earth" by independent scientists. A series of memos documented that the recommendations of state scientists were largely ignored by political appointees in the Schwarzenegger administration.

Methyl Iodide becomes a gas once applied and can easily drift from fields into nearby workers' homes and schools. The exposure levels that California approved as "safe" for workers are 120 times higher than the levels government scientists say protect against miscarriages and 56 times higher than the levels staff scientists say protect against thyroid cancer.

Last week, groups presented the governor with more than 30,000 petition signatures to ban methyl iodide, calling on Gov. Brown to follow through on his commitment to "take a fresh look"at the issue.

Who:   UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez, Pesticide Action Network North America Executive Director Kathryn Gilje, Californians for Pesticide Reform Co-Director Tracey Brieger.

What:  Farm workers, pesticide reform activists join forces against methyl iodide during march to Sacramento.

Where:  23401 No. Hwy. 99, Acampo, CA 95220 (on N. 99 frontage after crossing Pelletier Rd.).

When:   12 noon, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011.

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