Schwarzeneggar supports Jim Crow

This  governor of California vetoed SB 1121.  The bill would have ended 70 years of blatant racial discrimination in California by extending the same overtime rights you and I enjoy to the nearly half million farmworkers toiling in the fields.

Let’s be clear:  this is a public official supporting with his power and authority the systematic abuse of the thousands and thousands of people who do the work that keeps you alive.  There is little other way to look at it.  History will judge him an even worse racist than those of 50 or 100 years ago because Schwarzeneggar should have known better.

The reason he gave for his veto is that the cost would be too high for the industry, forcing them to higher fewer workers. He wrote: “Unfortunately, this measure, while well-intended, will not improve the lives of California’s agricultural workers and instead will result in additional burdens on California businesses, increased unemployment and lower wages.”

This is the same reason that was given when they tried to ban the short-handle hoe; or get rid of the Bracero Program; or limit the use of cancer-causing pesticides; or force employers to provide restrooms for workers.  Like all those cases, the reason is bullshit.  In each of these instances, profits rose after the industry was forced to act ethically.

If you are so-inclined, you can email the governor and tell him what an ass he is.  If there is an afterlife, I hope his is spent bent over in the hot sun feeding a bunch of fat people who don’t know (or care) he exists.

Contact him at governor@governor.ca.gov.

Support Overtime for CA Farmworkers

This is a picture of Arturo Rodriguez (UFW President); Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter, CA); Msgr. James Murphy (Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament); and scores of farmworkers. They are kneeling in California’s State Capitol building and praying that Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar will sign SB 1121 into law.

The bill–which is now on the Governor’s desk–would give farmworkers the same right you and I already have: overtime pay for overtime work.  Schwarzeneggar only has a limited amount of time to sign it.

Authored by Florenz, the bill “would lift a 1941 exemption in state labor code that excludes farmworkers from getting overtime pay after an eight-hour day or a 40-hour week. California farmworkers now get overtime pay only after a 10-hour day or a 60-hour week.”

You can read more about it here and here.

The 450,000 farmworkers in California deserve more than time and a half.  They perform the life-giving work that you and I depend on to do, well, everything we do.  Right now, you owe them your support.

Call or email Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s office NOW and tell him to sign the farmworker overtime bill into law.  Dial 916-445-2841 or send and email via the official correspondence link.

Got food? Thank a farmworker.

March 29 – April 4, 2009 is National Farmworker Awareness Week.

We demand just living and working conditions for farmworkers and an end to unfair treatment under the law. We demand fairly harvested food.

Farm work is the third most dangerous job in the U.S., yet the people who plant and harvest our fruits and vegetables lack many of the basic worker protections that most of us take for granted. Things like overtime, unemployment insurance, even protection when joining a union are not guaranteed under federal law.

We are connected to farmworkers everyday because we all consume food– much of it planted and harvested by farmworkers, yet farmworkers remain largely invisible and continue to live and work in unacceptable conditions.

For more information, visit the campaign website.

César Chávez and your day off

Today numerous places in the 8 states that officially recognize Céasar Chávez day are observing that holiday with a day off.  The actual holiday is on March 31st, the day of Chávez’ birth.  Unfortunately, like MLK day and other holidays, an “observance day”–a tactic devised to give people a three-day weekend and a non-interrupted work week–is quickly becoming the trend.

Next Tuesday, I’ll have some things to say about the life and legacy of Chávez but, in the meantime, let me just say that the use of Chávez’ memory to create a three-day weekend is kind of grotesque, especially considering the people he struggled for (farmworkers) don’t have today, or even tomorrow, off.

So work me beauties, and be thankful that you work in a place where you can read a blog go to the bathroom when you want, and not develop crippling, life-shortening back ailments.  (Of course, only if you do work in such a place.)