Farmworkers and Allies in Western NY Show Solidarity to March

From May 15 to June 1 2016, farmworkers and allies marched 200 miles from Smithtown, Long Island to Albany to raise consciousness about the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act (S1291/A4762) and other campaigns to improve workplace conditions for farmworkers.

Buffalo, May 15

In conjunction and solidarity with the start of the 200 mile March in eastern New York, RMM organized a rally in Buffalo at Pilgrim St. Luke's Church. Approximately 50 people attended and heard a number of speakers talk about the importance of passing the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.

Everyone spoke passionately about the injustice of the current situation that excludes farmworkers from having the basic protections that all other groups of workers enjoy. Assemblyman Ryan traced the history of farmworkers from the indentured servants brought from Europe, through the period of slavery, to the African Americans and other of the early 20th Century to our reality today of mostly workers from Latin America. He told us that the industry has come to expect “almost free labor” and therefore the resistance to ending the exclusions against farmworkers.

Dolores and Cesar spoke from their personal perspective of the contributions and difficulties of being a farmworker.

We also collected hundreds of signed postcards and handed out others to be signed and returned. All left with a renewed spirit and commitment to continue the struggle for justice for all!

Lyons, May 22

About 60-70 people, workers and allies, gathered at Grace Episcopal Church in Lyons for a march and meal. After an inspirational welcome by Father Andrew, pastor of the parish, we marched about one mile to the offices of Assembly person Bob Oaks and Senator Michael Nozzolio. They knew that we were coming but not one was there to receive is. We marched with many banners and shouted together, "Si Se Puede," and "Justicia para los trabajadores agricolas" as we marched.

Upon arriving at the offices we heard a few words from different marchers and left two envelopes in the door. Each envelope had a petition directed to each legislator, with signatures of those participating. The original petitions will be mailed to each law maker.

We then marched back to the church where we enjoyed a delicious shared meal. Librada and West shared some stories from the main march in eastern New York.

Syracuse, May 26

Workers' Center of Central New York offered support and inspiration to a gathering of people at their Syracuse office for lunch Thursday afternoon. Dairy workers and allies shared why it is important to fight for farmworkers rights in the state, and the dangers inherent in the industry that remain too often hidden and ignored.

After lunch, the group marched to the office of Senator Valesky, where we left letters asking him to support farmworkers in his district and support the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act.