DELANO — Hundreds of people joined members of the United Farm Workers as they marched through the streets of Delano Sunday to honor Cesar Chavez’s legacy and to support efforts by the union to give overtime pay to farmworkers.
The mile-long march began around 11 a.m. in front of a church and snaked through neighborhood streets as families were beckoned to their front yards when they heard the commotion. The marchers waved UFW flags and held signs supporting farmworker rights, chanting “Si Se Puede” as Latino folk music played while they marched toward Cesar Chavez Park.
Marchers highlighted the fight to allow farmworkers the right to overtime pay after working eight-hour shifts, something that Arturo Rodriguez, United Farm Workers president, said is granted to workers in other industries.
Also, a few people carried signs that called out Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The crowd chanted “Chavez Si! Trump No!” as a message that his anti-immigrant rhetoric wasn’t welcome.
The UFW president said that farmworkers were upset about the presidential candidate’s belief that they don’t have the right to legally stay in the United States.
“Especially after they’re the ones who ensure that we have food on our tables everyday,” Rodriguez said.
The event also marked 50 years since March 17, 1966, when 77 farmworkers marched for their rights from Delano to Sacramento, where they were met by 10,000 people on April 10, 1966.
“It gave birth to what we were doing in the union and fighting for people’s rights and ensuring farmworkers were treated with dignity and respect,” Rodriguez said.
Sunday’s march brought back memories to Roberto Bustos, who was one of the 77 that marched for farmworker rights. He’s been involved with the UFW through the years after boycotts and strikes and continues to march.
“We haven’t stopped marching until every farmworker has rights, benefits and union representation,” Bustos said.
Abby Rivera of Kingsburg remembered when she and the rest of her family joined her father on strike with Chavez from 1965 to 1970.
“It was a big sacrifice,” Rivera said. “I don’t know how my dad did it.”
She remembered how they fought for wages, benefits and simple things like drinking water and toilets in the fields. Eventually, Rivera became a farmworker as well and worked with the UFW for years in one capacity or another.
“My heart is with the farmworkers because I was a farmworker,” Rivera said.
She joined the marchers on Sunday to support their effort to gain overtime pay.
“I don’t think it’s fair that they’re not being paid overtime,” Rivera said. “Where in other industries, government jobs, people get paid for working more than eight hours. So, it only stands to reason that they should get paid.”
Rivera brought her granddaughter, Jewel Hurtado, 17, because she felt that it was important for the teenager to learn about these struggles.
Hurtado said she welcomed the chance to learn more about the farmworker movement.
“It’s just really exciting to see that when you want something changed, you have to work hard for it,” Hurtado said. “It just doesn’t come easy.”