Caravan focused on farmworkers' rights rolls through Valley

'We have to do an all-out effort to make sure that our workers are protected, that they are safe.'
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- They play a vital role in supplying our food chain.

Whether it's working in the fields or at packing houses, these men and women help feed the country, so state and Valley organizations are making sure farmworkers know their rights.

"We have to do an all-out effort, an all-out campaign to make sure that our workers are protected, that they are safe, and that they get what they need to protect themselves and their families," says civil rights leader and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta.

A four-day caravan kicked off Thursday in Atwater, followed by a trip to the South Valley with Huerta.

Each stop reached essential workers in the communities they live and work in close to fields, vaccine clinics, and community meetings for easy access.

State Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said the idea was to empower workers by informing them of their rights, workplace safety, even COVID-19 vaccine information.

Even though in California, we have a whole lot of protections, the reality is that there are too many workers who don't understand what they are," says Garcia-Brower.

Wage theft, retaliation, and paid sick leave are just some of the incidents that come to her office, which many workers don't even know they're experiencing.

"I want people to understand that everybody has rights. It's not just farmworkers, every job in California, you have a level of rights and protections and there are benefits and policies, your employer has to be compliant," says Garcia-Brower.

The mobile caravan made several outreach stops in the Valley, working with UC Merced's community and labor center as well as local organizations.

Garcia Brower calls it their on-the-ground initiative to heal any broken trust between the community and government.

The goal is to make sure the caravan will happen quarterly, already having visited Coachella and Ventura. They hope to bring outreach events to the Central Coast and Santa Barbara.

For any questions you may have regarding the workplace, you can reach out to the labor commissioner's office at (833) 526-4636.

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