VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Valley farm workers are just under a week into a 335-mile march to draw attention to farm workers’ rights. The “march for the governor’s signature” started in Delano and made a stop today in Visalia. The group is on their sixth day of marching and plans to end up in Sacramento by the end of the month.
“We want to make sure that they really in-depth understand the challenges farm workers have,” said Teresa Romero with the United Farm Workers.
25 marchers have been making their way across the state and dozens of others joining them as they cross through different cities carrying flags and signs in the summer heat. All of this to make a statement at the state capitol.
“There is a bill we want the governor to sign that would make it easier for farm workers to vote for union representation,” added Romero.
Romero says the bill would protect workers from intimidation in elections to choose a union.
“Farm workers are intimidated, farm workers are fired, farm workers are threatened with immigration. In many cases farm workers have a husband, a wife, a brother a sister, a niece that works in the same farm so the threat is to fire everybody we cannot have that anymore” said Romero.
It’s a 335-mile journey to the capital with a “si se puede” mindset. But immigration attorney Gregory Olsen says he’s not sure how much effect the march will have on bringing forward change.
“Worker intimidation does really happen…I see cases where people come in and talk about, you have to take whatever job is available if you don’t have your papers” said Olsen.
Olsen says the biggest fear for farm worker immigrants, many of which who are undocumented, is being deported.
“There is a lot of power the employer has that normal people that have a work permit, that have citizenship just don’t have to worry about,” said Olsen.
The group has several more weeks of travel to get to the capital. Members are expected to travel through Fresno sometime this week.