Thursday, January 12, 2006

UFW responds to L.A. Times articles

UFW response:
L.A. Times attacks farm workers with lies
Please send a letter to the editor today
The Los Angeles Times is running a series of inaccurate, dishonest and untrue stories by reporter Miriam Pawel viciously attacking the Farm Worker Movement and Cesar Chavez.
We know the conditions farm workers endure on a daily basis and recognize much work remains. Despite supplying extensive, detailed information and unparalleled access over many months refuting specific inaccuracies and misleading charges, L.A. Times reporter Pawel refused to include the Farm Worker Movement’s side in her stories. These initial points will be followed by a much more detailed response.
The UFW’s commitment to organizing farm workers is unwavering. Less than 150 union members are non-farm workers. Our limited resources mean we can’t be every place the need is desperate in California. So our focus has been the Central Valley and Central Coast, the greatest concentration of farm workers in America.
Thousands of farm workers benefit daily from the United Farm Workers’ efforts:
-1. 32 election victories, most in California, since the current organizing drive began.
-1. Dozens of UFW contracts including the largest strawberry, rose, winery and mushroom firms in California and the nation plus victories in other states.
-1. Over the last decade, the UFW has dedicated up to 50% of its resources to organizing, among the highest of all unions. Donations provide key support for organizing.
-1. Ongoing UFW organizing faces stiff resistance, as evidenced by the state of California’s ruling that last summer’s election at Giumarra table grape vineyards could be thrown out because of the grower’s illegal actions.
-1. The UFW has helped tens of thousands of farm workers through recent legislative gains: the 2005 regulation to prevent heat deaths; seat belts in farm labor vehicles; remedies for workers cheated by farm labor contractors; new pesticide protections; the historic push for immigration reform could aid hundreds of thousands in farm labor.
The Farm Worker Movement is continuing the legacy of its founders, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who believed the movement had to go beyond the work place through non-profit, independently-run groups with distinct missions and staff. Annual independent financial audits give all the organizations clean bills of health.
-1. The nine-station, three-state Radio Campesina network mixes Mexican music with extensive educational programs for 300,000 daily listeners. Radio Campesina blankets the highest concentrations of farm workers in the nation.
-1. More than 1,900 of 3,500 amenity-rich affordable housing units serving about 10,000 people are in farm worker areas in the Central Valley, Arizona and Texas.
-1. Community organizing efforts where farm workers live are improving the lives of thousands in the Salinas and Central valleys and in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
-1. The Cesar E. Chavez Foundation empowers and equips tens of thousands of young people to carry on Cesar’s life and work.
It is natural for members of Cesar’s family to be inspired by his example. Less than a dozen of 400 committed movement employees are family members; just four hold policy-making positions. Many spent decades as full-time volunteers, work hard for modest pay. They all serve without compensation as board members. Arturo Rodriguez was elected UFW president directly by farm workers.
You can help! These facts and much more that didn’t appear in the L.A. Times are why we ask you to help us bring balance to these unjust stories. Please write down your own feelings and send a letter to the L.A. Times.
Sign your letter to the editor with your full name, street address and phone number, and send it today to: or Letters to the Editor, 202 West First Street, Los Angeles, CA. 90012

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