Slide Show Documents SB 104 Campaign in Sacramento
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For 12 days in June, thousands of farm workers marched, chanted and prayed at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Hundreds also fasted. Their plea: That Gov. Jerry Brown sign SB 104, a bill that would have made it easier for California’s 400,000 farm workers to join unions and thereby gain safer working conditions.
The epic vigil, in and out of the Capitol, is the subject of a slide show by Edgar Sanchez, a former news reporter for The Sacramento Bee. Highlights include:
- Farm workers carrying Cesar Chavez’ wooden chair, inviting Brown to use it when signing the bill that the late founder of the United Farm Workers would have backed;
- Daily speakers from organized labor, as well as from local and state government, embracing the cause, usually under a brutal mid-day sun; Farm laborers walking the Capitol’s halls of power, lobbying legislators for continued support;
- Relatives of Cesar Chavez, along with farm workers, meeting with Brown’s aides and asking for SB 104’s signing, and
- Advocates marching outside the Capitol, chanting, “Seňor Gobernador, su firma por favor!” (“Mr. Governor, your signature please!”)
The climactic scene shows farm workers in the hall outside the governor’s office on the afternoon and evening of June 28, 2011, the deadline for Brown to act. At 11 p.m., with only 60 minutes remaining, the peaceful demonstrators were joined by more than 25 pro-SB 104 Democratic legislators, who asked to meet with Brown. He refused.
Soon after, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, who was in front of Brown’s office, received a cellular call from the governor. They engaged in what The Sacramento Bee called “an animated” conversation. As the tense exchange began, at roughly 11:10 p.m., the feeling in the hall seemed to be that SB 104 was still alive. But Brown, it turned out, had vetoed the bill minutes before, delighting the state’s $36 billion agricultural industry.
Brown declined to meet with the crowd to explain his decision.