Farmworkers upset at Senator de Leon for blocking translations

Farmworkers from Pick Justice prepare to speak at the Senate hearing on June 20, but Senator de Leon wouldn't let them be heard in English.

Farmworkers from Pick Justice prepare to speak at the Senate hearing on June 20, but Senator de Leon wouldn’t let them be heard in English.

Farmworkers are furious at Senator Kevin de Leon for blocking the translation of their public comments against ALRB board member Genevieve Shiroma.

De Leon is famous for his insistence on bilingual and multilingual translations, but when it came to the Rules Committee hearing he chaired June 20 on Shiroma’s re-appointment, the Senate president would not allow it.

A Pick Justice spokesman wrote to de Leon to express how upset the farmworkers were, having lost a day of wages by petitioning their elected officials in Sacramento. Jesse Rojas, who spoke in English at the hearing and offered to translate on the farmworkers’ behalf, wrote de Leon on June 27. Here’s the text of his letter:

Dear Senator de Leon,

Many farm workers and I were in your Rules committee last week. Thank you for allowing us to speak there. We were shocked when you refused to allow translation of what the farm workers said. It was especially shocking because you had just got done lecturing the ALRB about the need to translate for all farm workers.

Then, when the committee asked you what the farm workers said, you said that they only said they wanted their votes counted. Surely you knew that wasn’t true. They said far more than just that.

For the record, I’ve attached their translation. Could you make sure that this is put in the record? Could you also give it to the other committee members? It was surprising that you wanted the committee to vote even though they didn’t know what the farm workers said. Such as,

“I’m against Shiroma because this whole time that we’ve been doing large protests, they have always denied us their help. A lot of corruption has been seen by their, by the ALRB. And we always feel intimidated, because when we started the protests they would not attend to us. We feel humiliated and discriminated because at first, when we started they were ignoring us. And now this whole time they’ve been saying that we are ignorant for fighting for our rights.”

And,

“I come here before Mrs. Shiroma. On one occasion I had a conversation with her in which she told me that I had rights to defend them and that if I wanted the union, the union would come in. There would be voting. We did the votes and they have not done anything. I’m now bringing this contract. This is a contract that she wanted to impose on us, she wants to impose the union on us. There is discrimination here. I want her to tell me, why are we going to discriminate? We live in a country that does not discriminate.”

And,

“We feel cheated in part by the ALRB. On September 9, 2015 we went to a session at a hotel and the farm labor union was there and the ALRB, and they told the security guard to not allow anyone with blue shirts to come in only the ones with red shirts. So, what do we make of that? That we do not have the necessary support.”

And,

“We’ve been fighting a lot with the labor law, with the union. They ignore us. I believe that Mrs. Shiroma is incompetent, she has been incapable of resolving our problem because it has been more than 3 years that we’ve been fighting and fighting, fighting, fighting and she hasn’t done a thing for us.”

And,

“Since the day of voting a labor law member told us when we voted, you are going to vote but your votes will not be counted. He told us, that supposedly they are there, the ALRB is there to support us. So then why haven’t they done that? What I want is for the votes to be counted. To be given the right to choose what we want.”

The names of the workers have been removed from the document. That is because the ALRB and UFW have retaliated against the workers, so now they fear they will be targeted for more retribution.

Will you come to meet the farm workers? They need your help. They want you to see why they deserve the right to choose, and why it was wrong for you to approve an appointee who paid $130,000 to the union’s official, even though 99% of her adjudications involve that very union.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Respectfully,

Jesse Rojas
Farm Worker Rights Activist
www.pickjustice.com

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