Better Days Ahead

Pumpkin workers

Dear PCUN Ally,

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to work at one of the farms PCUN contracts with side by side with the folks pictured above. Ramon thought it would be a good idea to send me out there as part of my training as the new Secretary-Treasurer. I hadn’t worked in the fields since my senior year in college (2005). In some ways, I was happy to be back. This was after all not just any farm. The contract we have with them includes wages above minimum wage and protections unheard of on most farms, such as seniority, grievance procedures, overtime, paid breaks, and union recognition. Working together with these workers felt like re-living the many years I worked alongside my parents, who have been farmworkers for the past 25 years and loyal PCUN members.

The next day wasn’t so great though. My back hurt so bad, after lifting what seemed like an infinite number of five-pound pumpkins, that I had trouble tying my shoes. I asked some of the workers how they are able to do this on a daily basis. They responded with a common message: “Things are a little bit better here, but there are betters days ahead. ”

When I think about our work in 2013 and the challenges we’ll have in 2014, I can’t help but share the same feelings of the workers. Our nearly thirty years of improving living and working conditions for farmworkers and our decade-long struggle for legalization have made things a little bit better. But things need to be a lot better for a lot more workers and we are getting closer to making this happen.

A comprehensive immigration reform bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants, including over one hundred thousand Oregonians, is one step away from being signed by President Obama. All that stands in the way is the House Republican leadership, and earlier this year, at the May 1st rally, Governor Kitzhaber signed a bill to restore Oregon’s driver’s license for thousands of undocumented immigrants this coming January. But, anti-immigrant groups forced a delay and an election by gathering enough signatures to place the bill on the ballot next November. This will be the first and only popular vote on this issues in the nation.

As we move forward in these struggles and others that will come , it’s also now my honor to ask for your support (DONATE HERE). I hope you can continue to partner with us in our work, because, like our immigrant brothers and sisters, I believe there are better days ahead.

 

Gracias y Adelante!

Jaime Arredondo

Secretary-Treasurer

P.S. If you make a donation, your contribution will go through the Willamette Valley Law Project (PCUN’s sister organization), making it tax deductible. You can also send your donation to 300 Young Street Woodburn, OR 97071, made out to the Willamette Valley Law Project.

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