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3-day event marks farm workers' week

February 25, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — San Diego State University's Imperial Valley campus is sponsoring three days of events to mark United Farm Workers Week.

Festivities kick off Tuesday with a fund-raising lunch at the student union from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be Mexican food and refreshments for $5 a plate.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, there will be a public forum in the campus library on "Collective Bargaining: Current Issues." Representatives from the United Farm Workers of America and Pictsweet Corp. will speak.

That forum could be interesting due to a recent history of bad blood between the UFW and Pictsweet.

According to a Feb. 4 posting on the fabulousfoods.com Web site, "Pictsweet runs a huge operation in Ventura, picking between 50,000-60,000 pounds of mushrooms per day. … each and every one of these mushrooms is picked by hand by one of the farm's 350-plus employees."

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One of Pictsweet's major customer's is Pizza Hut.

According to UFW's Web site, "For 14 years, workers at Pictsweet have tried to negotiate a United Farm Workers contract. Pictsweet has ignored its workers desires and violated a host of state labor laws."

According to a group of disgruntled workers, "Conditions at Pictsweet are cruel and dangerous. Mushroom workers labor in dark and damp rooms. Floors are slippery. They only have the lights on their helmets to guide them. Many suffer vision problems.

"Such conduct is why workers have asked Pizza Hut to boycott Pictsweet mushrooms. Pictsweet has already lost many major customers, including Vons, Safeway and Ralphs supermarkets."

The Vons in Calexico carries ReadyPac mushrooms and the El Centro Vons carries Money's Mushrooms.

The Money label is the recent United Farm Workers "Label of the Month."

From 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday there will be a public forum on the housing problems of working people.

Each of the nine candidates for the Calexico City Council has been invited to speak about their take on housing issues. The forum could also include a question-and-answer session with Calexico residents and speeches by candidates for seats on the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors and the county Board of Supervisors.

From to 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday there will be a public forum in the library on immigrants' issues relating to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Speakers include, Dr. Omaran Abdeen, a nephrologist and San Diego representative

of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Roberto Rubio, former president of MAPA and a representative from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com.

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