By Emily Hoeven
Today, the United Farm Workers union is set to embark on a 24-day, 335-mile march from Delano to Sacramento to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a bill that would permit farmworkers to vote from home in union elections. Farmworkers and their supporters are set to arrive at the state Capitol on Aug. 26, a few days before the legislative session draws to a close.
The “March for the Governor’s Signature” comes about a year after Newsom vetoed a similar bill, prompting infuriated farmworkers to march to the French Laundry, the luxurious Napa County restaurant where Newsom was caught in the early days of the pandemic dining maskless with lobbyists.
The governor’s relationship with farmworkers has since endured further strains: In March, Newsom angered union members by embarking on a family trip to Central and South America right before César Chávez Day, when farmworker leaders had requested to meet with him to discuss this year’s version of the vote-by-mail bill. Frustrated farmworkers ended up holding rallies in 13 cities across the state.
Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who as an Assemblymember authored the bill Newsom vetoed, said she plans to join the march near Stockton. Gonzalez Fletcher last week assumed leadership of the California Labor Federation, bringing the United Farm Workers with her. The farmworker vote-by-mail bill is a priority piece of legislation for the powerful alliance of unions.
- Assemblymember Mark Stone, the Santa Cruz Democrat carrying this year’s bill, told the Fresno Bee that supporters “don’t yet have an agreement with the governor’s office,” but he’s “very hopeful” it will pass.
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