SANTA MARIA, Calif. – State leaders and local advocates are teaming up for a three-day caravan, dedicated to farmworkers and their work rights.
The caravan began Wednesday in Santa Maria.
The goal is to help farm workers know their rights.
Several advocate groups such as Mixteco Indigena Organizing Project(MICOP), CAUSE, Lideres Campesinas are taking part in this, along with state agencies such as the Department of Labor and the workplace safety group Cal-Osha.
Information is being shared verbally with farm workers in English, Spanish and the Mixteco language, details on paid sick leave, COVID pay and protection from wildfire smoke.
Farm workers were told if they find unsafe conditions, it can be reported to the state labor commissioner.
“They have protections,” said California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower. “We are here not to take their claim but we are here to help them understand what their rights are and what behavior they should consider on the job to best protect their rights.”
Just over a month ago, a landmark supreme court ruling tossed out a state law allowing union organizers to go into farm fields. Which means those groups must now meet with farmworkers elsewhere- not in the fields.
Wednesday's groups stayed out of the fields but parked alongside and used loudspeakers to be heard by farm workers.
We reached out to several central coast growers to hear what they thought about the efforts, they said, "they are not quite sure of the motivation or necessity of this exercise.”
Organizers said today's caravan will not be affected by that ruling as they're staying out of the fields, and not going on to private property.