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Davis

Davis, California

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Students unite for farmworkers’ rights

While on-campus food service corporation Sodexo claims to promote sustainable and green practices, some students believe Sodexo does not extend this support to farmworkers’ rights.

For over a year, the Student Farmworker Alliance has urged Sodexo to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to provide farmworkers with $0.01 per pound of tomatoes. Currently the farmworkers make around $0.45 for every 32 pound bucket, said Liz Fitzgerald, Village Harvest Davis team leader and senior American studies major.

Fitzgerald and a group of about 35 protestors demonstrated on Wednesday to encourage Sodexo to make an agreement.

“They need to hear our voices and they need to hear them clearer because it sounds like they aren’t really taking us seriously,” she said. “We are not protesting against individuals but against this larger power structure that we think needs to bring justice to farmworkers.”

Protestors marched from the Memorial Union to the Segundo dining commons at 12:15 p.m. and picketed outside the dining commons until 1 p.m.

Protestors signed a letter that the students will give to Chancellor Linda Katehi and the Sodexo general management staff today. Sarah Raridon, a senior gender studies major, read the letter aloud near the end of the protest.

“It is time for Sodexo at UC Davis to put their values into action and truly be a positive source for social change,” Raridon read aloud.

The letter requests for more dialogue between students, UC administrators and the general management team of Sodexo on campus. Fitzgerald will meet with representatives from Sodexo and the Student Farmworker Alliance today to discuss misunderstandings between the groups.

Sodexo has agreed to the $0.01 increase but the commitment has not been signed yet.

“There is no conduit filtering the money down to the farm workers themselves,” said Linda Adams of University Dining Services in an email to the protestors. “We feel this is the biggest issue and needs to be verified before signature.”

Fitzgerald said Sodexo’s claim that they made an agreement with CIW is misleading.

“If they were really serious about making it happen, they would have signed the agreement officially,” she said. “And they haven’t.”

Sodexo has reached out to the CIW but is still examining the situation from all angles, Adams said.

“We want to put into place a practical agreement that can be implemented, measured, audited and that is sustainable over the long term,” she said.

Fitzgerald believes Sodexo is delaying the agreement.

“It’s not a priority for them, so I think that this rally will also make it clear that it needs to be a priority,” she said.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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