The UFW’s Crisis of Overtime Credibility
You could not invent a higher level of irony and hypocrisy than what the United Farm Workers of America union (UFW) has put on display the past year. Currently the UFW has announced it is endorsing Richard Trujillo, over incumbent Democratic State Senator Connie Leyva for failing to vote for Assembly 1066, which forced overtime rules for farmworkers.
It would be easy to editorialize about this, but the UFW is doing a pretty good job of hanging itself with its own rope:
In a statement, Arturo Rodriguez, UFW president said:
“Many farm workers gave up days of pay to lobby lawmakers like Sen. Leyva at the state Capitol last year because what was at stake for them was the dignity of being treated equally, like all other workers. Sen. Leyva denied farm workers that dignity when she failed to vote for AB 1066.”
What’s even more outrageous is that three months ago the UFW was ordered by a Monterey County judge to pay out $1 million in penalties and back pay to its own organizers. The reason? The UFW failed to pay dozens of union organizers for hours worked, including overtime and meal breaks for more than four years.
Plaintiff Francisco Cerritos said, “It’s shameful that a union that says it protects the human rights of farmworkers has been violating the rights of its own employees,” Cerritos said. “It’s a product of the new management of the UFW. They no longer represent the workers.”
Arturo Rodriguez and the UFW is punishing Sen. Leyva for an overtime vote and for failing to treat farmworkers with “the dignity of being treated equally,” yet where was the “dignity” or “equality” for the dozens of union organizers who the UFW stiffed in pay, overtime and meal breaks?
California has a holiday named and celebrated after UFW co-founder, Cesar Chavez, yet today, this once proud union is in shambles. Its’ diminished membership and its tone-deaf leadership prove that the UFW has strayed so far from its roots that Arturo Rodriguez and the UFW’s threats are nothing more than weak and cowardly.