Farmworkers and Latinx/a/o Working Families Address COVID-19

Woodburn, Oregon – PCUN, Oregon’s farmworkers union has been activating Latinx immigrant workers to take action against exploitative working conditions since 1985. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused much strife in the lives of Oregonians, and its important to take a deeper look at how workers who are most vulnerable to disruptions due to their seasonal nature, contractors, and temporary labor – especially those who are keeping Oregon’s $50 billion dollar industry working. (includes total sales, and food processing) 

Major concerns on the part of farm labor, and workers at canneries, and processing plants are real – and due to the lack of worker protections, and benefits, in addition to the amount of people power that comes from the immigrant community in this sector – there are many worries on the minds of these workers, on top of the pandemic. 

Immediate actions that can be taken today by government entities, and the industry today to keep our workers, communities, and food supply chain safe includes:

  • Additional training and protocols by employers, and supervisors giving direct instructions to workers onsite that prioritize sanitation, increase disinfection requirements, social distancing, and honoring a workers need to quarantine without fear of retaliation.
  • Sick days and leave expansion for farmworkers, and food processing workers 
  • Cash assistance for individuals who do not qualify for paid sick leave, and needing to self quarantine for 14 days. We believe this can be done through Unemployment Insurance, and Worker Compensation expanding it to include all employers no matter the size of the employer, as well as waiving wait time. This also includes for Black, Indigenous and People of Color-based small businesses and their respective employees
  • Job protection, anti- retaliation protections, and cash assistance for workers over 60 y/o (increasingly aging workforce), additional precautions for workers who are high risk; additional protections for H2A workers (seeing more of these in the fields)
  • Taking into consideration the logistical challenges of quarantining workers that live in housing on worksites, and housing with multiple families. Creating avenues and funds for special accommodations for quarantine workers to prioritize health and containment.
  • Ensure nutrition programs are still available for children and students despite school closures, and program cancellations. And childcare assistance for parents. 
  • Timely, trusted, and non-sensationalized multilingual information that is easily shared on communications outlets most utilized by immigrant, and non-English speaking community members: Radio, Univision, Facebook posts in multiple languages
  • Ensuring all workers, small BIPOC business owners, and community members (no matter their documentation status) can access services, especially health services. 
  • Resource migrant clinics in urban and rural Oregon adequately respond to the influx of patients due to COVID-19 and ensure that testing and healthcare is accessible to all workers – no matter their immigration status. 
  • Resources for farmworker housing and employers to bring in professionals to do “deep-cleaning” of facilities. 
  • Employers cutting hours or doing layoffs –  ensure all workers despite immigration status qualify for Unemployment Insurance, and Stimulus Packages. Removing any barriers for undocumented workers accessing unemployment, and other cash assistance.

Additional pieces that affect all working Latinx families:

  • Rent forgiveness, utility freezes  and moratorium of evictions.
  • Supporting homeless workers by getting a contingency plan that can house workers who rely on shelters.
  • Funding for organizations serving the most vulnerable The state government set-up an emergency fund for non-profit organizations of the state serving immigrants, refugees, day laborers, farmworkers, and people of color to support their capacity in mitigating the community impacts of COVID-19 and providing culturally-relevant education and resources.
  • Farmworkers and other sectors of work are of mixed immigration status, all detentions, and ICE holds should end to reduce confinement of workers in close quarters, and to decrease the criminalization of immigrants and people of color. 
  • Create a grant program providing funds for small businesses owned by black, indigenous, people of color with fewer than 50 employees who see loss of profits due to COVID-19. Provide commercial rent relief and utility freezes during the duration of the administrative closure. 
  • Ensuring people have access to basic necessities like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and transportation

Employers and the state must take the threats seriously and keep workers informed about essential next steps to keeping our workers, communities, and the food supply chain safe.

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First time this happens in Oregon…

June Photos for Thought- First time this happens..

APP leads the way in electing Oregon’s first Latino majority school board–Read about it here! This is how we resist!


FHDC housing community–Colonia Jardines.  Colonia Jardines was opened on May 17th. It’s the first farmworker housing project in Silverton Oregon. Congratulations FHDC!


PCUN and LUS join rally at NORCOR detention facility  in the Dalles, Oregon in support of immigration detainees who are on a hunger strike to protest poor living conditions.

Adelante!
PCUN

APP leads way to electing Oregon’s first Latino majority school board

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APP team who led the campaigns of Anthony Medina (Woodburn-2nd right) & Levi Herrera-Lopez (Salem-1st right)

By electing Laura Isiordia, Gustavo Gutierrez, and Anthony Medina in Woodburn, we now have the first elected Latino majority school board in Oregon!!! These pioneers have broken down barriers for future generations of students. Anthony, who had the only contested race out of the three, is just 25 years old.  Anthony was the first in his family to graduate from college, earned a Master’s in Education Policy from Stanford University and works as a budget analyst for the State of Oregon. Talk about being young AND qualified to lead in our local school board.

In the Salem-Keizer Area, we campaigned hard to elect Levi Herrera, who since age 15, has been invested in the Salem-Keizer community and currently serves as the director of Mano a Mano Family Center, whose mission is to help families and youth become self-sufficient and empowered. Professionally, he works with community. Levi went to McNary High School and has ample personal experience overcoming barriers that as people of color, we often face in the education system. Levi is also part of the Salem-Keizer School district budget, Marion County Children and Families Commission, Salem Youth Advisory Commission, Marion County Public Safety Coordinating council, among many others.

If elected, Levi would have been the FIRST LATINO ever to sit on the Salem-Keizer school board. A unique perspective much needed, given that 50% of Salem-Keizer students are students of color. However, as qualified as Levi is, it is clear that the community in Salem-Keizer was not ready for a Latino candidate.

Levi will continue to advocate for our most vulnerable communities as he has always done and Acción Política PCUNista will continue working to elect people who represent the communities they serve. Just look at our team. These campaigns are led by YOUNG people–college students and high school students–who truly care about their communities and the positive impact this has on our state. Together, we knocked close to 8,000 doors in Salem-Keizer and Woodburn. We heard powerful stories from community and helped people vote for the first time.

We didn’t lose, we won! These young people are our present and our future and we will continue to make our voices heard. They’ve broken through the chains of poverty and are now breaking through the chains of our political system. 

Thank you for supporting our efforts!

Adelante,

Jaime Arredondo

APP Executive Director

http://www.accionpoliticapcunista.org/

Donate to PCUN’s ICE Raid Resistance Efforts

Support PCUN’s ICE Raid Resistance Efforts:  Donate to help here

Dear ally,

We need your help to build our community’s capacity to respond to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). 

As you know, President Trump’s interior immigration executive order is slowly tearing apart families and communities across our nation. We’ve experienced this first-hand in our hometown, Woodburn Oregon.

In the early morning of February 24th, 16 farm workers were stopped by ICE on their way to work. The agents claimed they were looking for a person. When the worker answered they didn’t know that person, the agents started asking them about their immigration status. They refuse to talk. Despite their efforts to express their constitutional rights, they were still taken. Woodburn and our neighboring communities have not been the same after.

Farmworkers are thinking twice about going work. Parents are preparing their older children to parent in case they are taken. Some no longer want to seek medical assistance. Dozens of permanent residents are coming to our service center to apply for citizenship. Grades are down for students. Business is down. The fear is not about meeting basic needs. As immigrants, we know what is like to start from scratch. It’s about family and the threat of separation.

So what are we doing about it?

DSC05391 (3)Following the raid we began organizing a series of Know You’re Rights trainings, which eventually led to the creation of the Mid-Willamette Valley ICE Rapid Response Network. To date, we have trained over 300 people, 26 of which are now trainers themselves. Our allies at the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition have set-up a 1-888 number our network can call into to report ICE activity. We are learning to use the Deportation Defense App created by Unite We Dream. And, we’ve organized legal defense trainings to dissect some of the incidents that have taken place through the personal testimony of those affected. This will allow to use real-life experiences to better prepare for future incidents.

Our goals—train over 5,000 more people, and through the collection of testimonies from those affected build a legal case against’ the President’s Interior Executive Order demonstrating ICE violations of immigrants’ constitutional rights.

Our goal is to raise $10,000 from this appeal to begin to scale up our current efforts. The path won’t be easy, but we can get there with your help. Thank you.

Ramon Ramirez-President of PCUN

PCUN Publication

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“The Story of PCUN and the Farmworker Movement in Oregon”, co-authored by U. of O. Professor Lynn Stephen, was originally published in 2001. It was the first history of PCUN ever published.

The revised 2012 edition, published by the UO’s Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, is a 57-page online publication that highlights the history of PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, or Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United) within the context of Oregon and U.S. history. The Oregon farmworker movement began with the U.S. Bracero Program in the 1940s, and led to settled Mexican communities in Willamette Valley towns including Woodburn, St. Paul, Independence and Gervais.

CLICK TO VIEW 2012 EDITION

Publications About PCUN

The University of Oregon’s PCUN Digital Collection “consists of correspondence, newsletters, publications, photographs, newspaper clippings, audio recordings, and other documents that provide a view of the history of the largest labor union and Latino organization in the State of Oregon.” The PCUN records are available in both English and Spanish through this link.

“The Story of PCUN and the Farmworker Movement in Oregon”, co-authored by U. of O. Professor Lynn Stephen, was originally published in 2001. It was the first history of PCUN ever published.

The revised 2012 edition, published by the UO’s Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, is a 57-page online publication that highlights the history of PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, or Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United) within the context of Oregon and U.S. history. The Oregon farmworker movement began with the U.S. Bracero Program in the 1940s, and led to settled Mexican communities in Willamette Valley towns including Woodburn, St. Paul, Independence and Gervais.

CLICK TO VIEW 2012 EDITION