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Farmworkers march coming through Turlock
Supporters will cover 335 miles in 24 days in hopes that governor will sign pro-union legislation
farmworkers march
Farmworkers and supporters begin their 24-day, 335-mile march in Delano on Aug. 3 (Photo by Elizabeth Strater/UFW).

Ten days in and the United Farm Workers’ march toward the state capital is gaining momentum, according to Elizabeth Strater, the UFW’s director of strategic campaigns. 

“I think we’ll have a couple hundred people marching here on Thursday as we go from Parlier to Calwa,” said Strater. “The bishop of the Diocese of Fresno (Rev. Joseph Brennan) will be marching that day. There’s a level of community support, you can feel it growing.”

The marchers will make their way through Tulare, Fresno and Madera counties this week and arrive in neighboring Merced County on Aug. 14. They’ll depart Le Grand for Merced a day later and then arrive in Livingston on Aug. 16. From Livingston, they’ll trek to Turlock and then depart Turlock for Modesto on Aug. 18. After that, it’s on to Manteca, Stockton, Lodi, Galt, Walnut Grove, Elk Grove, and then the Capitol on Aug. 26.

The UFW, which gained prominence in the 1960s under the leadership of renowned labor leader Cesar Chavez, organized the 24-day, 335-mile march to bring attention to Assembly Bill 2183, the Agricultural Relations Voting Choice Act, which seeks to expand voting options for farmworkers. 

According to Strater, the legislation is similar to AB 616, which passed last year but was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Day 15 (Wednesday, 8/17/22): Livingston to Turlock

  • Start at Livingstone Memorial Park, Livingston CA
  • Stop at Columbia Park at the corner of Farr St & High St., Turlock, CA 95380 for Reception and Rally.

Day 16 (Thursday, 8/18/22): Turlock to Modesto

  • Start at Columbia Park at the corner of Farr St & High St., Turlock, CA 95380
  • Stop at Cesar E. Chavez Park on Sierra Dr. & 4th, Modesto, CA for Reception and Rally.

“AB 2183 is very similar to the one he vetoed and we’re hoping that he signs this one,” said Strater. 

According to the UFW, the bill would give more choices to farmworkers so they can vote free from intimidation. The union points out that AB 2183 offers the same voting choices Newsom used to defeat a GOP recall election in September 2021. Yet, he vetoed AB 616 despite support for the bill in both houses.

The march began on Aug. 3 in Delano (Kern County), at the site of the union’s original headquarters, and proceeded north through the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. The marchers have principally marched in the morning, to avoid the teeth of the searing valley heat, and have averaged about about 14 miles per day.

“Some days it’s 10 to 12 and other days it’s as many as 19,” said Strater.

Inevitably, at some point, the heat becomes a factor … almost symbolically.

“The heat is something that farmworkers have always had to deal with,” Strater said.