On Aug. 3, 2022, the United Farm Workers (UFW) began a 24-day “peregrinación,” walking from Delano, California, to the state Capitol in Sacramento. The marchers embarked on a 335-mile route in the blazing summer heat, retracing the route of the legendary 1966 “March to Sacramento,” led by the UFW’s iconic founders, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. In ’66, California farmworkers were on a six-month strike when the union decided to make a dramatic public statement by marching to the state Capitol, demanding higher pay, safer working conditions, and recognition of their union. In 1994, on the first anniversary of Cesar Chavez’s death, Arturo Rodriguez led the union once again to Sacramento, defining a new chapter in its existence and reassuring farmworkers and growers that Cesar Chavez’s legacy is still very much alive.
Twenty-eight years later, history is repeating itself. The organization and its allies are again making the grueling journey, this time to urge California Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the California Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act (Assembly Bill 2183). The bill would give farmworkers more voting rights and provide protection for those voting in union elections. Currently, the voting system only permits farmworkers to vote in person and at their place of employment, where farmworkers often face intimidation from their employers. If the bill passes, it would enable them to vote from home by mail, as well as to form a union. A similar bill, AB 61, was vetoed last September by the governor, who said that it contained “various inconsistencies.”
The UFW and its supporters were not discouraged; union members say it has only made “la causa” stronger
The Pride and Pain of the UFW March was published in August 2022 by High Country News with the support of The Economic Hardship Reporting Project
Text and Images by Zaydee Sanchez