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Union Farmworkers Demand Vote-By-Mail Rights At Cesar Chavez Day Rally In San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Chanting the slogans once used by Cesar Chavez, farmworkers and their supporters took to the streets once again on the day his life and legacy were celebrated.

On Thursday, demonstrators urged Governor Gavin Newsom to sign AB 2183 into law, which would give farmworkers the right to vote in union elections by mail instead of in-person only.

"And what better place to do it than on Cesar Chavez Street and Mission," said Roberto Hernandez, who worked with Cesar Chavez in the 1970s.

"He always said we need to take action and call out what was wrong," Hernandez said. "And what better way to honor him than to take action across the whole state of California to call on the Governor to do the right thing."

Last year, Newsom vetoed a similar farmworker voting rights bill saying it had "inconsistencies and procedural issues" related to the collection and review of ballots.

On Thursday, his office did not respond for comment.

But supporters say voting by mail has strong support in the Assembly and is a right many California union members already have.

"The governor was voted in by people who voted by mail," said Kim Tavaglione, of the San Francisco Labor Council. "Farmworkers have never been allowed to vote by mail. Big Ag has always fought it."

Supporters say the bill would make for fairer elections, free from intimidation or influence from growers.

"We want the opportunity to make the vote from our homes," said Casimiro Alvarez of the United Farm Workers.

Farmworkers say they want to discuss the issue with Newsom in person but have been unable to schedule a meeting.


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