Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at UFW convention in Bakersfield


    California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to an audience of farmworkers at the UFW Convention in Bakersfield, Calif., on Saturday, May 21, 2016. (KBAK/KBFX Photo)

    Using colorful language to describe a Republican-controlled Congress, Gov. Jerry Brown was the keynote speaker Saturday evening at the United Farm Workers Union Constitutional Convention in Bakersfield.

    "The leaders in Congress are one step above cavemen," Brown said, drawing chuckles and applause from an audience of farmworkers.

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    Brown is a long time supporter of the union, having marched with its founder, the late Cesar Chavez, who devoted his life to the betterment of some of the most marginalized workers in the nation. Brown praised the union for its work in organizing and political accomplishments in advancing regulations dealing with heat and access to safe drinking water in the fields.

    But, overall membership in the UFW has declined over the years, and the union finds itself using other methods in addition to organizing. On Saturday, UFW reported that it had won an election at Gourmet Blueberry-California LLC near McFarland with 347 workers voting in favor and 68 in opposition. It is the first UFW victory in Kern County in years. The last time UFW represented workers was in the early 2000s at Bear Creek Jackson-Perkins Rose Co., according to UFW Vice President Armando Elenes.

    "The victory at the blueberry farm means that if we can unite, we can achieve many things," said farmworker Judith Adame of Delano, who works at the farm.

    On the lighter side, Brown spoke about the upcoming presidential election and about the presumptive Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, who has said that if elected president he will build a wall on the border to keep out undocumented immigrants coming from the southern border.

    "He wants Mexico to build a wall," Brown told the UFW delegates. "If Trump is elected, which he won't be, I'll build a wall to keep him out of California."

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