Sunday, February 12, 2006

The UFW in the RGV (part 2)


Community activist Ignacio Almaguer discusses the United Farm Workers and how the Texas branch of the UFW is doing here in the Rio Grande Valley:

I guess I will finally weigh in on this issue.

The union locally has diversified, but I do not know the day-to-day activities of the California branch of the union. The UFW in San Juan changed it's name to La Union del Pueblo Entero, which means that the union not only helps farmworkers, but strives for social equality for everyone.

The union has now started to pump some money into San Juan's economy. I know of this since I was recently appointed to the Housing Authority Board of San Juan. The first order of business was a proposal from National Farmworkers Association to build low income housing. The project will provide $75,000 to San Juan's economy the first year after being built.

I did see where the LA Times criticized the housing project as being too expensive for farmworkers. The rent for the units are less than average than most apartments in the Valley. Sure, some farmworkers will not be able to afford these prices, but the local union has ways of helping members by housing them at the Casa de Colores for a few days while they find a place to say.

The union has changed in San Juan, but I do believe that the changes were necessary. There will be some individuals that will be affected by the changes, but it is impossible to please everyone.

As far as a decline in membership, the membership in Texas has increased. I am not sure of the numbers, but I have heard Juanita [Valdez Cox] saying that they have helped more people with social services in the last year than in other years.

Also, the claim that the union is cashing in on its history can be interpreted in several ways. I know that several Valley politicians have asked to use the Si Se Puede slogan on their campaigns. The union has only asked for a donation, but the union uses that money to add and improve the services it provide to its members.

The union in the Valley has seen its ups and downs, but I think the union in Texas is gradually gaining back its strength.

Nacho, thanks for providing a local perspective on this issue.


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