José Gómez Farmworker Justice Day 2022
At Evergreen’s twelfth annual Farmworker Justice Day, we were honored to host Edgar Franks, the political director for Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), Esther Perez, an organizer with the Community to Community (C2C) Promotoras, and Lucy Lopez, the Promotora coordinator at C2C. This year, amidst the dangerous heat dome and wildfire smoke conditions and severe flooding throughout the Pacific Northwest, farmworkers were once again among the most harmed by climate change, and among the most exploited by our economic systems that prioritize profit over climate justice.
From the onset of the pandemic, farmworker activists at FUJ and C2C have also pointed out the cruelty of being deemed “essential” workers, and yet denied basic human rights and dignity. Workers have been vocally resistant to the systemic injustice in the agriculture system and the unique risks they’ve faced due to unsafe pandemic conditions. In May 2020, more than 400 farmworkers from 6 different apple packing sheds in Yakima, WA went on strike in response to the unfair labor practices and lack of protection from COVID-19, creating the largest ag worker strike in the Pacific Northwest since the 1980’s. Leaders of the strikes from Allan Bros Fruit went on to form a union, Trabajadores Unidas por la Justicia– though the struggle to become an official union with the National Labor Relations Board is still at hand.
We also had the tremendous opportunity to hear from these leaders in years past as we continue to stand in solidarity with their struggle. At FWJD 2021, workers testified on how COVID-19 has furthered the exploitative conditions on corporate farms and packing sheds due to unjust labor conditions. In addition, organizers shared how they’ve navigated community needs and fought for justice within this particular moment. This included a presentation by the C2C Promotoras, a women-led advocacy group within the broader C2C organization that focuses on health, safety, dignity, and other forms of material change from exploitation for farmworkers. During the pandemic, the Promotoras have worked tirelessly to provide PPE and vaccines for workers, connect farmworkers to health resources, and present ‘know your rights’ orientations.
At this year’s Farmworker Justice Day, we heard FUJ and Promotora organizers as they once again shared how they’ve responded to the urgent needs of workers: including the continued work to improve vaccination access among workers who are routinely put in danger by medical systems and our government, and the massive efforts to provide flood relief to farmworkers and community members who’ve been displaced, lost precious belongings, and lost work due to flood damages. We will see that these issues are combined through the ongoing and systemic exploitation of the workers, the food, the land, and our planet as a whole within the mechanics of capitalism.
Now is the time to stand with the people who grow your food, and support their work to build a just food system modeled on food sovereignty and a solidarity economy.
Poster design by Jamie Fiano from Evergreen’s new Center for Climate Action and Sustainability
Community to Community Development Promotoras
Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Please read the bio page for more information on this year’s presenters, and follow Community to Community Development, The C2C Promotoras, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, and Trabajadores Unidas por la Justica on facebook for more updates and ways to get involved!
Honoring José Gómez
Watch professor Alice Nelson give tribute to José Gómez, a life-long activist for farmworker justice, LGBTQ justice, and labor organizing– and a faculty member at The Evergreen State College. This video is also included in the recording of Farmworker Justice Day, 2022. ¡José Gómez Presente!
Password needed to view: 5h@^!w52
To learn more about José Goméz and hear from him in his own words, check out this memorial zine made in his honor: Evergreen Archives: José Gómez Memorial
Preparing for Farmworker Justice Day
To prepare for our event, panelists asked that participants engage with the Crash the #COP series, Edgar Franks and Jill Mangaliman’s conversation on grassroots organizing at the 2021 Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. Learn more here.
Virtual Solidarity Shop Table:
Get beautifully designed t-shirts, patches, bumperstickers, and more! Donations are also gratefully appreciated. Featured right: Farmworkers Are Essential T-shirt with a beautiful image designed by the late WA artist Antonio Gonzalez.
Image: Stepheny Lopez, photo taken by Lucy Madrigal. All images from the C2C website.
They can be found below at C2C’s solidarity shop.
Check out C2C Solidarity Marketplace or directly donate to C2C.
Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ)
Donate to FUJ at FUJ Donate