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Mon Feb 25, 2013, 03:16 PM

UFW: New office: A giant step toward new contracts


The UFW is growing. Last year, we won new contracts in Madera County’s tomato industry. Thanks to your help, we’re now working on winning more.

One of these new contracts was at San Joaquin Tomato Growers where Guadalupe Franco works. Ms. Franco proudly brags that her daughter is a union steward there and is hopeful that the union movement will become even stronger in the region. “I would like the union to grow,” she says, “and help more of my fellow farm workers to obtain the same benefits as us.”

To better serve these new union members, along with our current members and to reach out to many other workers in the local area, we recently opened an office in Madera. Our other California offices are in Delano, Oxnard, Stockton, Salinas and Santa Rosa.

Having this local presence will be enormously helpful and cost-effective in training the workers to resolve their own grievances and negotiate for better pay, working conditions, job security and benefits.

Previously, workers had no adequate place to gather and conduct business. UFW worker leader Mario Martinez explains, “We would do our meetings in the fields, during our lunch breaks, enduring the high temperatures or the cold.” The closest UFW office was in Delano, an hour and a half drive each way. Mario tells us the new office “has a good impact in the area because a lot of workers already know that there is a UFW office in the city of Madera. Now they have a place where they can tell their problems and they can organize and have a union contract like us.”

Valerino Cortez, who is a union steward at Gargiulo, where workers are negotiating a contract, points out that we couldn’t find a place anywhere where everyone could fit during the election planning meeting with the ALRB. “In the hotel we wouldn’t fit because the conference rooms were too small. I remember that in the hotel they wouldn’t let us hear the meeting..."Hotel employees even got mad at us as they didn't want us there because we were too many farm workers.”

Can you help us keep this new office open? Your contribution will help us fund the rent, utilities, maintenance, internet service, equipment rental and supplies for our new Madera office. San Joaquin Tomato Growers union leader, Joaquin San Pedro, expresses how much that will mean to workers like him. “I hope you continue to support the farm workers...so that this office can remain open...and in the future we ourselves can administer our own contracts.”

Your ongoing partnership is crucial to us as we organize workers, negotiate contracts for them, file lawsuits on their behalf, and pass laws to protect them and their families. Make your donation for the Madera office today.

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