A Guest contribution by Mary Entoma, UNITE HERE Local 11
In the early hours of August 11th, Unite Here Local 11 members and community allies joined the United Farm Workers in their march to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign AB 2183. Worker power filled the streets. Moved by their faith to join in, these workers came from the fields, hotels, airports, and event centers and sacrificed their time, livelihoods, and comfort to pass this life-changing law giving farmworkers the right to vote by mail in union certification efforts.
We joined these marchers halfway into the day’s 18-mile journey, filled our bags with snacks and water bottles, and were off! The core group led the way with the portrait of La Virgen de Guadalupe at the front. Despite the unforgiving heat, we marched through the unpaved roads, loudly chanting through the orange fields. Surrounded by these courageous and resilient people, one thing was clear: there was nothing that could stop us from getting this victory. “¡Se ve y se siente, la unión está presente!”
Before we embarked on our last mile to the local park the community had assembled in, we stopped by St. Anthony Mary Claret Church where we were joined by Bishop Joseph Brennan and Bishop Emeritus Armando Ochoa of Fresno. Though Local 11 was only able to join for the day, our time with the UFW was a beautiful display of solidarity and faith.
Mark Vinzani, one of Local 11’s community allies that joined in the march, shared about his connection to the pilgrimage: “At the LA Catholic Worker, we are only able to run our soup kitchen because of the dedicated laborers who pick and process the produce that we go on to serve the unhoused of Skid Row. Our community has always supported the UFW – from picketing during the Delano Grape boycott to hosting Cesar Chavez and fellow organizers in our home. We continue to stand with them as they demand their basic rights. Though it’ll be easy to clean the dust off my shoes, the memories of solidarity will be hard to forget.”
Mary Entoma is a community organizer with Unite Here Local 11 and interim president of APALA LA (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Los Angeles). She is also a rising 4th-year student at UCLA studying labor studies and political science. Coming from a Catholic family, she often feels moved by the principles and values of her faith to do justice work.