Farmworkers march for a better life


By Miguel Hernandez

In observance of Labor Day, hundreds of farmworkers gathered together with their families and allies in the city of Santa María to protest for a fair and living wage of $26 per hour. The protest was organized by La Alianza Campesina, which is a collaboration between the organization, California Alliance United for Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) and Mixteco Indigenous Community Organizing Project (MICOP) who at the same time announced the beginning of their wage campaign.

The protest was a direct response to the inflation of the economy that has made the cost of housing and food too high for agricultural workers who remain on low wages. With screams and anguish, many farm workers who attended the protest pointed out the irony that they are the ones who bring food to the world’s plates, but cannot provide food for their own families due to low wages.

The protest also brought attention to the injustices faced by the agricultural industry through the Harvesting Dignity report. The report mentioned how the agricultural industry falls short in wages compared to other industries that do similar jobs such as truck drivers and construction workers. For example, truck drivers earn an average of $26.76 per hour and construction workers earn an average of $25.04 per hour.

During the protest, one of the most alarming issues for farmworkers was housing insecurity. Many farmworkers gave testimony to other protestors about their concerns about having stable housing. These concerns stem from rising rental prices throughout Santa Barbara County.

“More than half of the income of a farmworker family with two full-time adult workers is consumed by rent, highlighting the unaffordability of housing in Santa Maria, an agricultural town.”

A leader of the Mixteco Indigenous Community Organizing Project, Juvenal Solano, gave a few words at the end of the march, commenting on how agricultural workers were labeled essential workers during the pandemic while they risked their lives ensuring that food would continue to reach the nation’s tables, but now they are the ones who find it difficult to put food on their tables due to low salaries.

Get Text Updates