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State Agencies, Community Organizations Launch Three-Day Caravan Focused On Farmworker Rights

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Madi Bolanos
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Valley Public Radio
A truck blares information on workers rights to farmworkers in Visalia, CA.

State agencies are partnering with community organizations across the San Joaquin Valley to inform farm workers of their rights at work. They’re taking their message straight to the fields, through a three-day caravan through the Valley. 

On Friday afternoon,  a truck parked along Road 60 in Visalia blared information about workers’ rights in English, Spanish, Punjabi, Mixteco, Triqui and Zapoteco. It told people working in the fields about their right to paid sick leave for COVID-19or following the vaccine, and protection from retaliation. 

At a press conference kicking off the event, California Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower said many people who work in the fields don’t know they have these rights. 

“We understand that even though we say ‘all workers have rights,’ the reality is that they don’t understand their rights, they don't know how to exercise them and you can not exercise something you do not know,” García-Brower said.

She emphasized that farm workers, who were hard hit by the pandemic, should know that if they get sick they can take paid time off. 

“There's 80 hours under our new supplemental paid sick leave of 2021,” Garcia-Brower said. “This is an obligation to all employers.” 

The caravan was next headed to Kings County for a mobile vaccine clinic. It’ll also make stops in Huron on Saturday and will end in Modesto on Sunday. 

Along with the Labor Commissioner, the state Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA and UC Merced’s Community and Labor Center are also partnering on the outreach efforts.

 

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.