If the ALRB really wanted to help farmworkers, what could it have done with the $10.8 million it’s using to prevent our 2013 votes from being counted?
Let’s take the farming community of Mecca, California, down in Riverside County. Instead of suppressing worker votes in the San Joaquin Valley, the ALRB could have spent the $10.8 million on any of the following in the Coachella Valley, around Mecca:
- Construction of more than 100 new homes (Approximate price of a construction of a single 1,200 square-foot home in Mecca, Zip area 922, is $102,000; less in quantity).
- The equivalent of 2,000 house lots ($5,000 per lot, between 4000 and 10,000 square feet).
- Purchase of 238 houses (median listing price in Mecca: $47,000).
- One year’s rental of nice apartments for more than 1,600 farmworkers, living 2 per household, per year (833 nice apartments in Mecca area, between $644 and $1200/month, conservatively averaged at $1000/month x 12 months = $12,000/year per unit).
- Purchase of 740 older mobile homes to house 1,500 farmworkers (living 2 per home; list price for purchase in Mecca: $13,000).
The $10.8 million that ALRB spent to suppress the farmworkers’ votes could have gone to help improve community conditions, too. In a recent settlement with California Rural Legal Assistance, Riverside County agreed to pay $21 million to help disenfranchised farmworkers and their families. Of that, the settlement required the county to:
- Provide up to $10 million for “low-income housing programs in Coachella, Thermal, Mecca, and Oasis, among other relief,” according to CRLA.
- The remaining funds of $11 million – not much more than what ALRB spent to suppress Gerawan farmworker votes – were to be divided up to fund all of this, according to CRLA:
- “Financial assistance and support” for each affected family “to buy a home or relocate to other housing.”
- Construction of the Farmworker Service Center in downtown Mecca.
- Employment of “sufficient bilingual health and safety staff.”
- Establishment of a “fair housing education and outreach plan.”
- Support for “the creation of an independent nonprofit housing corporation.”
- Creation and funding of “two mobile home parks for farmworkers.“
- Funding of “a new housing project within the City of Coachella.”