‘It’s time for the Senate to work hard, too’: Senator Padilla accepts invitation to work alongside farm workers

June 10, 2022 /

Last Friday, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) became the first U.S. Senator to accept the United Farm Workers’ invitation from “Take Our Jobs” initiative by working alongside farm workers in Moorpark, California.

Padilla worked a full shift as a farm worker, harvesting parsley and radishes. All 100 U.S. Senators were invited to take the challenge, but so far only two have accepted — Padilla being one of them.

“After a long day of hard work, I’m going to return to the capitol even more committed to advocate and fight for immigration reform that farmworkers have earned, the pathway to citizenship, the respect, (and) the dignity they deserve from all of us,” Padilla said in a social media video covering the event.

The “Take Our Jobs” initiative is geared toward showing how essential immigrants are to the American economy by referencing the anti-immigration narrative of people all too often saying “but they’re taking our jobs,” said Elizabeth Strater, Director of Strategic Campaigns for the United Farm Workers.

Senator Padilla learns how to pick radishes in Moorpark, California. Courtesy of the United Farm Workers

“It’s a bit tongue in cheek for farm workers to say ‘Please, take our jobs! Try it for yourself,'” Strater told Kern Sol News.

With this initiative, the UFW is hoping to see Congress work harder for farm workers’ stability and a path forward, just as farm workers have worked to keep the domestic food supply intact.

“Through pandemic, through climate disasters, through deadly heat waves and toxic smoke-filled air, farm workers have kept working,” Strater said. “It’s time for the Senate to work hard, too.” 

Padilla, a son of two hardworking immigrant parents, accepted the challenge and worked an entire day alongside farm workers. As Padilla picked radishes and parsley, workers were ready to help him get started, according to Strater. Workers shared tips and showed Padilla the ropes.

During their lunch break, they all gathered around the camp stove and shared their food and stories about their lives and the challenges they face, Strater said.

“(Padilla) didn’t just show up for an hour and some photos,” said Strater. “Radishes particularly are grueling work to harvest and take a lot of skill.” 

Padilla said in the video that it was not “easy working with sharp objects” when picking parsley and said picking radishes was “even more labor intensive.”

“I know my back is going to be feeling it for a while, but boy, these women and men work so hard each and every day,” Padilla said in the video. “I’m so impressed with their professionalism, their positive attitudes, and obviously the very important work they do.”

The UFW Foundation is encouraging the other 98 senators to work alongside farm workers for a day and experience the work it takes to “bring food to all our tables.”

The UFW Foundation said in a news release, “We hope by taking this challenge, Senators will make the commitment to fight for the millions of men and women throughout the country who do the essential work of feeding us all.”

Featured Photo: Courtesy of the United Farm Workers

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez is the program associate for South Kern Sol. She can be reached at elizabeth@southkernsol.org.