Entry 2 – The 50,000 Card Push
Sacramento. Two Hundred farm workers watch the assembly pass SB 104, a law that will greatly ease the process of unionizing a company by eliminating the scare tactics used to instill fear and insecurity in the workers. With this law farm workers could unionize themselves by using a state-issued election card.
We watched the votes roll in 51-25 in our favor and went home with a sense of victory. But the fight isn’t over. Next step? The governor’s signature. How do we get his signature? Get 50,000 cards signed by the people urging the governor to pass SB 104 of course!
We mobilize people with the cards — Salinas, gets this stack, Delano that stack over there, hit up Coachella while you’re at it! Go, go, go!
“Buenos dias,” I greet with a smile. “I’m wondering if you have a few minutes to help a farm worker out today?” “Farm worker? Sure! My parents were farm workers you know.”
And sometimes I get the “Oh no thanks, I’m in a hurry.” “All I need is a signature. Won’t take more than thirty seconds.” “Sorry no, I don’t know about that type of stuff.” “Oh, but I’ll tell you.” “Sorry, no.” No dice. Next? Her! Her! She seems nice, “Buenos dias.” And so it goes, gotta get ‘em all: farm workers, students, cab drivers, teachers, everyone.
Aim for places with crowds — schools, soccer parks, super market parking lots. What? We can’t be here? Ok we’ll leave (let’s come back tomorrow). 50k is a high goal, a huge goal, but a worth it type of goal so that the governor passes SB 104.
This is grassroots at its finest. Do this long enough, and you’ll see that most people will give a little help if you ask. And what amazes me the most is the farm worker’s enthusiasm, “My group commits to 1,000 cards!” “And my group commits to 2,000!”
But they don’t stop at the minimum. They go to the city and talk and walk with people and don’t take no for an answer because “if we don’t defend ourselves, who will?” “Why…you’re right kid!” “Of course I am. And you’re right in signing this card issuing your support” And it’s a done deal. It’s a hard deal. But it’s worth it.
My favorite experience was walking up to a group of twenty men sitting on the grass. Society tells me that these are dangerous men with malicious souls. Brown bodies with dark faces wrinkled by the sun and huge hands calloused by the earth; but they speak eloquently and smile nicely and issue their support with the greatest exuberance — hegemony and racist-pedagogy can kick itself — all that the television has taught me is wrong. Humanity is beautiful.
The 50,000-card push is an effort in the making that leaves within me a lesson well learned. This isn’t a job, it’s a movement. And we all give a little bit to carry a great weight. All of us, together.
“Joaquín Magón” is a youth reporter from Coachella living in Salinas and working for the United Farm Workers. He contributes blogs regularly for Coachella Unincorporated.