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OPINION
February 17, 2010
In the last days of 2008, President George W. Bush's administration gave a parting gift to agribusiness: The Labor Department rescinded certain hiring regulations and lowered minimum wages for temporary foreign workers, undoing labor protections that had been in place since 1988. For two decades, growers had maintained that those requirements, attached to H-2A visas for guest workers, had hindered their ability to keep a steady, reliable flow of workers in their fields and orchards. By contrast, labor unions argued that the provisions, passed during the Reagan administration, provided protections against unfair competition for American workers while safeguarding a foreign population subject to exploitation.
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ENTERTAINMENT
April 26, 2014 | By Deborah Vankin
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival may have wrapped up last week, but still unfurling in Coachella's Pueblo Viejo District is an ambitious project that has brought together about a dozen muralists and international contemporary artists. "Coachella Walls," which has no formal connection to the Goldenvoice-produced festival, is billed as an "arts-driven community revitalization project. " Its organizers are Coachella-based Date Farmers Art Studios, a.k.a., the artists Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez, who grew up in the area and now show their work at Ace Gallery in Los Angeles.
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OPINION
July 7, 2010
Farmworkers are the only hourly employees in the state who are not paid overtime after eight hours of labor in a standard 40-hour workweek, a special, discriminatory status that has endured for decades. Now California has an opportunity to right this wrong. State Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) has successfully shepherded a bill through the Legislature that would give those who do the backbreaking work of picking fruits, vegetables and nuts equal status with other workers. Opposition to the legislation, predictably, comes primarily from the farm lobby, which maintains that the current rule granting overtime only after 10 hours in one day or 60 hours in a week is all the industry can afford.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Martin Tsai
The documentary "Cesar's Last Fast" covers much the same ground as the dramatized "Cesar Chavez" released last month. Both center on the labor leader who in the 1960s helped to form the United Farm Workers union, organize the California grape workers' strike and foment a nationwide boycott of table grapes. Although "Cesar's Last Fast" extends the coverage by two decades, the same criticisms lodged against "Cesar Chavez" are applicable here: Richard Ray Perez's documentary concerns the myth more than the man. Perez has made a commendable effort rounding up archival footage, photographs and interviewees.
BUSINESS
June 25, 2010 | By Shan Li and P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times
What do you get when you mix farmworkers, Stephen Colbert, a stunt website and millions of dollars? A spotlight on those who toil in the sun. On Thursday, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis announced more than $78 million in grants awarded to provide employment training and support services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers nationwide. California is the biggest recipient, with five grants totaling more than $20 million; 44 other states are due to receive at least one grant. The grants will be administered through the National Farmworker Jobs Program, a national organization that supplies job training and employment help for migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
OPINION
January 14, 2006
Re "UFW: A Broken Contract," four-part series, Jan. 11 I was disturbed by this series. I am the daughter of farmworkers from the San Joaquin Valley. I started my career working in the fields on my summer vacations and winter breaks. I know about the injustices that farmworkers faced. I also attended marches and the meetings that the United Farm Workers had with my parents. I experienced the unity, representations we needed and the courage and pride that Cesar Chavez brought to farm laborers.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 20, 2008 | Times Staff and Wire Reports
Shelley Davis, 56, who as deputy director of the advocacy group Farmworker Justice fought for the safety of workers, children and the environment, died of breast cancer Dec. 12 at Georgetown University Medical Center. A lawyer who lived in Silver Spring, Md., Davis represented migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families on issues from health and safety to wages. Nationally known for her skill in immigration, environmental, health and safety, agricultural and housing law, Davis expanded the usual array of demands made on public-interest lawyers.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 3, 2012 | By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
STOCKTON - Sunburned, muddy and aching, Jose Hernandez was flopped in the back seat of the family's old Mercury with his brothers and sister when his father asked about their day in the fields, picking cucumbers. "Tiring," Hernandez, just a boy at the time, recalled answering. "My father said, 'Good! I'm not going to force you to go to school or get good grades or go to college. But if you don't, you know what your life is going to be like.'" It was a hard lesson from a father who spent years toiling in the fields of the Central Valley, migrating back and forth from Michoacán, Mexico.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 4, 2014 | By Scott Gold
GUADALUPE, Calif. - As a nearby tractor purred to life, Miguel Villagomez picked up his knife and stepped into a furrow of dirt amid thousands of plump heads of cauliflower ready for cutting. "This," the 19-year-old from Michoacán, Mexico, said with a touch of pride, "is my place. " For decades, the lush soil in this corner of California has been tilled largely by immigrants from Latin America, many returning year after year. But that long-standing relationship has encountered unexpected turbulence in recent weeks.
BUSINESS
July 29, 2010 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
Saying he didn't want to damage California's agricultural economy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday vetoed a first-in-the-nation bill that would have given farmworkers the same rights to overtime pay enjoyed by all other hourly workers in California. Applying the eight-hour day to agriculture would be burdensome to business and reverse longstanding labor practices, Schwarzenegger wrote in a veto message. As recently as 1999, state lawmakers approved a bill that specifically exempted farmworkers from the eight-hour day, he said, "recognizing that agricultural work is different from other industries: it is seasonal, subject to unpredictability of Mother Nature and requires the harvesting of perishable goods."
NEWS
March 31, 2014 | By Christi Parsons, This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
WASHINGTON -- When prominent Latino activists meet with President Obama, there's one White House staff member present whom many of them have known since she was a child. Julie Chavez Rodriguez grew up handing out leaflets and knocking on doors with her grandfather, Cesar Chavez, the activist whose campaign to organize farmworkers still inspires today's Latino leaders. As deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement, Rodriguez runs Obama's organizing efforts in support of immigration reform, and supervises Latino outreach.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 27, 2014 | Diana Marcum
The audience members stepped off buses waving red UFW flags. Some came straight from the fields. Those from Salinas and Madera and farther away had given up a day's wages to attend. The first feature film about Cesar Chavez had been screened in Los Angeles and at the White House. On Tuesday evening, "Cesar Chavez" played outdoors and in Spanish for the farmworkers Chavez represented. "From the beginning, we said we have to go back and give it to the people," director Diego Luna said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 4, 2014 | By Scott Gold
GUADALUPE, Calif. - As a nearby tractor purred to life, Miguel Villagomez picked up his knife and stepped into a furrow of dirt amid thousands of plump heads of cauliflower ready for cutting. "This," the 19-year-old from Michoacán, Mexico, said with a touch of pride, "is my place. " For decades, the lush soil in this corner of California has been tilled largely by immigrants from Latin America, many returning year after year. But that long-standing relationship has encountered unexpected turbulence in recent weeks.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 18, 2013 | By Teresa Watanabe
More than 100 Thai farm workers who alleged that they suffered discrimination working in Hawaii pineapple fields will receive $1.2 million in a settlement with Del Monte Fresh Produce, federal officials announced Monday in Los Angeles. Del Monte's agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission marks the first in a series of forthcoming settlements in what commission officials have called its largest farm labor trafficking case. The case involves a Los Angeles-based labor contractor, six farms and more than 200 Thai workers.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 2, 2013 | By Devin Kelly
Frank Martinez laid his shaking hands on the surface of the blank canvas. As before every painting, he said a prayer. Then the artist began his work. He applied acrylic paint and, with a rag, wiped it away. Shapes began to form and colors blended into one another. He used a piece of wood to draw straight lines, a task complicated by Parkinson's disease. Slowly, the mural took form, a layered portrait of early 18th century life, mission-building and Catholic faith in California.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 2, 2013 | By Diana Marcum
FRESNO - In an old cemetery, where few headstones have been added since the '50s, a large crowd gathered Monday for a memorial that was 65 years in the making and shepherded home by a Woody Guthrie song. "Today we are here to right a wrong," said Fresno Roman Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa. On a morning in 1948, a plane chartered by U.S. Immigration Services, carrying 32 people, including 28 farmworkers, left Oakland bound for the Mexican border. It went down in a fireball over Los Gatos Canyon, near the oil fields of Coalinga.
OPINION
August 3, 2010 | By Harold Meyerson
It's not really news when a bill fails to become a law in Sacramento. In this age of partisan gridlock, plenty of good ideas are never enacted. Still, one bill that made it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk last week, only to be killed by his veto, is worth looking at for what it tells us about how hard it is to clean out even antiquated moral rot, so long as powerful interests profit from it. The bill, written by San Joaquin Valley Democratic...
OPINION
January 10, 2006
Re "Farmworkers Reap Little as Union Strays From Its Roots," Jan. 8 It is truly tragic to read that the United Farm Workers is prostituting its name for political and economic gain. What does political support of tribal casinos and support of homosexual marriage have to do with the welfare of farmworkers, who still struggle to attain life's basic necessities? As an experienced educator who for many years has taught about the positive contributions of the UFW, it is with great dismay that I must now teach about the dark side of the union.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 22, 2013 | By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times
Maria Elena Durazo was angry. As Los Angeles' reigning labor boss, she had packed the City Council chambers with dozens of union members, expecting action on an initiative that could eventually help large hotels modernize, creating and preserving jobs. Business interests were wary, knowing that as part of the proposal, Durazo also hoped to increase pay for hotel workers. Durazo thought she had an ally in Councilman Paul Koretz, who would propose that the city study wage increases.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 1, 2013 | By Cindy Chang, Los Angeles Times
MADERA, Calif. - While kids his age were reading Shakespeare and dissecting frogs, Benito Vasquez was picking grapes and almonds in the Central Valley. He was 14 when he crossed the border from Mexico and has worked in the fields ever since. He has never gone to school and cannot read or write in any language. Vasquez, now 28, is one of thousands potentially shut out of a landmark federal program that grants work permits and a two-year reprieve from deportation to people who came to this country illegally as children.
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