Silvia Velasquez

I was a part of the visit with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.  I enjoyed being a part of the meeting with Secretary Walsh because I had never been involved in this way with any organization nor have I attended meetings where there were legislators or politicians present.  

I was amazed by how welcoming they were and treated us with dignity and respect. When you work in the fields, you feel that you have no value: Ranchers or contractors typically don't treat us with respect and often times treat us as if we were not on the same level. It felt like the work we did was not important.  However, I thought it was important for me, but not for them. But in this meeting, the Secretary and his staff saw value in our work.  

During the meeting with Secretary Walsh, we gave our testimonies about the work we do in the field and how we are treated. One thing they told us in the meeting is that there were supposedly no farm workers in this state. But there are too many, it's just that people don't let themselves be seen for the same reason that they are afraid.  I myself sometimes I wonder why get paid less for the work we do. 

I was surprised that they were very welcoming to us. They were nice and we felt equal to them. I felt like they really care for us and that we were important to them.  I wouldn't know how to explain it, but the most important thing I got from this experience is that our work does matter to people and that we are all equal. I learned that I have to value myself.  

With regards to the UFW Foundation, I would like to see more people get involved in the organization. The problem is that many times people are afraid because they don't know exactly what the organization is like.  But in my experience, the UFW Foundation supports farm workers with resources and advocacy and includes us in speaking with lawmakers. 

I don't know what I would like to do to continue making a difference within the farm worker movement. I would like to continue with the meetings and talking to people so that they continue to be encouraged because, if we leave it there, everything ends. 

I would like to encourage the UFW Foundation to always be there for farm workers and inform us of everything that is going on, because without that we cannot do anything because we do not know what is happening. Many times, we only dedicate ourselves to work and we do not know what is happening around us. 

Si Se Puede!