Most farmworkers in the Rio Grande Valley were excluded from congressional COVID-19 aid. Here’s how we are going to get them some relief.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, our food supply chain is being compromised. The men, women and children harvesting the food we eat are the critical infrastructure that each of us relies upon.
As the former Texas Director of the United Farm Workers, I’ve seen how years of low-pay and exploitation, exclusion from most labor laws, and almost complete invisibility in the public consciousness have meant that these essential workers faced crises long before the pandemic hit–they are now facing a life-or-death sentence.
To add to this human tragedy, they are now, once again, being unfairly excluded from congressional relief because of their legal status.
Each of us depends on their essential labor. And they deserve full rights in our country. Yet Congress wouldn’t even consider including them in relief.
Congress won’t act, so we will. La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) launched a fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 to distribute to families in the Rio Grande Valley who have been left out of the congressional relief package.
LUPE was founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, co-founders of the United Farm Workers, as the community organizing arm of the farmworker movement. Since being established in the Rio Grande Valley in 2003, LUPE has provided organizing and social services to its 8,000 member households across the three valley counties, Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr.
As an organizer who fought most of my life for the rights of farmworkers, I know the power of normal, everyday people coming together for a common cause. During my 30 years at the helm of the UFW in Texas, farmworkers won clean drinking potable water and field sanitation, hand-washing facilities, protections against harmful chemicals, and inclusion in some workers rights legislation. That’s why I know we can make the difference necessary to help farmworkers get through this crisis.
All donations will be disbursed to farmworkers and undocumented immigrants who are suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each household will receive $200. None of this amount will go to cover administrative costs.
Former Texas Director of the United Farm Workers, 1975-2005
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest columns shows farm workers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. (Photo: Texas AgriLife Services/Rod Santa Ana)
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