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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/16/16

After 78 Years, California Farmworkers Win the Right to Overtime Pay: An Interview With UFW President Arturo Rodriguez

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Rodriguez: It will be an extremely important precedent for them. I think it's going to give farmworkers throughout the nation a sense of hope. If farmworkers here in California can unite, can come together, can be passionate about something and make the sacrifices, and make these types of changes, it's going to encourage them to want to do the same thing within their respective states, to make these kinds of changes.

Yesterday, I was in Texas, meeting with farmworkers there and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Farm Workers' activities in the state of Texas, which began back in June of 1966 with a heroic group of farmworkers who walked out on strike, in Rio Grande City in the melon fields there, and marched from Rio Grande City to Sacramento. I'm sorry, I mean to Austin, Texas, the capital of the state of Texas. People there were all excited about what we're doing here in California, and hoping that we were able to get the governor's signature, because that gives them an opportunity to look toward doing the same thing within their state.

DB: Well, I have to tell you that here at Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio, Miguel Gavilan Molina and I are really honored that we played just this little part in giving a platform and a microphone to the movement. Again, we're honored, and wow, congratulations!

Rodriguez: Well, likewise. We're always very, very thankful for all the good work that ya'll do. Your listenership has always been extremely supportive of the work of the United Farm Workers, and we're humbled to be able to receive that support year after year after year. And now we're looking toward not only enforcing this legislation but going to farmworkers and asking them, "What other needs do you have?" and "What's important to you?" and "What's important to consumers about their food supply?"

DB: Yeah, how about a minimum wage?

Rodriguez: Yeah, there you go.

DB: What's the wage for farmworkers?

Rodriguez: Farmworkers are paid now the same minimum wage as any other worker.

DB: Oh right, oh my God.

Rodriguez: So they will also benefit from the new minimum wage laws that were passed earlier this year. And we'll combine all of these good things that farmworkers are going to be entitled to, and as time goes on, people are going to realize that farmworkers are now being treated as professionals, like every other worker here in the state. And that's extremely important.

DB: Well, Hispanic Heritage Day is today. Independence on Friday. This is good timing, huh?

Rodriguez: It's excellent timing. It really does bring light to the National Hispanic Heritage Month, which we're going to start celebrating later on this week, and to all the hard work that Latinos do within our nation. The huge contributions that they make every single day, not only in agriculture but the hospitality industry, and certainly the ones that are out there doing the construction work, and doing the yard work, and working in our homes, being nannies and taking care of the children, and cleaning the houses, and all those types of things.

DB: By the way, we only have 15 seconds -- it was a double victory, they also passed the Domestic Worker's bill.

Rodriguez: That's right.

DB: It's a good day.

Rodriguez: Good times.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)

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