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rington, Cesar Chavez, Jim Harrington, Dr. Ramiro Casso. Pho t by Na ncy Ma n is ca lc o convention in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school gymnasium, representatives of UFW organizing committees testified to the deprivation they face and to the lack of response they have received from local, state, and federal governments. They were particularly vocal in their condemnation of Hidalgo County Judge Santos Saldana, who had initially announced that he would not authorize Hidalgo County soup lines because it would present a bad image for the tourist and Winter Texan trade. “We were standing in line and we were an embarrassment to him,” a worker testified. A farmworker demonstration in January had forced Saldana to change his tune. According to a state official attending the convention \(who did not want to be respond effectively to the Valley freeze can be traced to the federal Reconciliation Act of 1981. This act established the block-grant program, wherein the states were given the responsibility for social programs but, according to the official, were not given the power to decide how the money for these programs could be used. The federal blockgrant funds are strictly regulated and, at the same time, have been cut back over the three-year period. The freeze damaged more than crops and wages. It set back plans by the UFW to launch a collective-bargaining initiative for farmworkers in the state. UFW President Cesar Chavez told the convention that this was to have been the year to push for the right of farmworkers to bargain collectively, but the freeze had changed all that. There was nothing to negotiate, no power to wield except the power of the ballot. Chavez called for 100,000 Mexican American voters to write “candidate” Reagan, asking why he hasn’t helped in the Valley. Letters and petitions should, he said, call for the immediate establishment of a public works program to employ disasterstricken workers. In addition, Chavez called on the convention to tell Governor White to introduce a state general assistance program in the next legislative session that is similar to programs operating in most other states, which pay for food, rent, and utilities brought on by major disasters. Chavez also said disaster unemployment insurance coverage should last for a 52-week period. “People who go north for work,” he said, “should not lose eligibility here when they come back.” But while Chavez was calling for letters and petitions, Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower told the convention how to deal with Ronald Reagan: “If the door’s not open, kick it open. Liberty is not given, it is taken.” Reagan, Hightower said, “loves poor people so much he wants to create more poor people. Ya basta! Enough with Ronald Reagan. El presidente de los estados unidos es muy loco!” Hightower told the UFW delegates that, following the elections of 1982, they are on the inside in state politics. He is likely to find farmworker representatives in his office pushing the fourth resolution passed by the convention, which calls on the Agriculture Commissioner to establish stricter pesticide regulations and to ask for legislation giving farmworkers the right to private cause of action in pesticide cases and funding pesticide reporting, penalty, and registration procedures. The convention passed other resolutions, including those calling for increased minimum wage for farmworkers and the abolition of the There wasn’t much to cheer about two months after the freeze on a sunny day with temperatures in the 80s. But there had been a major victory: “We are in disbelief of what has happened with regard to workers’ compensation due to the work of Jim Harrington,” Chavez announced. “The significance will be felt when farmworkers start to use the law.” On February 23, state District Judge Harley Clark issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the Industrial Accident Board from refusing an injury claim based on fact that the claim was filed by a farm or ranch worker. The exclusion of farm and ranch workers, he ruled, is unconstitutional. The legal victory achieved by Harrington, representing the UFW and the Texas Civil Liberties Union, came while final agreement on a workers’ compensation compromise bill still hung in the balance. At a press conference the day after the ruling, Governor Mark White said that he preferred a legislative to a judicial solution and that the farmers’ interests had to be considered. “It doesn’t please me,” state Rep. delegates, “that he [White] said we have to consider the interests of the farmers and ranchers. Until this court ruling, the rights of farmworkers were never considered.” Hinojosa also took exception to a statement by White that farmers and farmworkers suffered equally. He presented a figure in the hundreds of thousands of dollars earned annually by a large Valley grower and asked, “Which campesino earned that much? . . . What we want is what is just. We want what we deserve.” Without a legislative compromise finalized on workers’ compensation, there was some question as to whether Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby would appear at the convention as scheduled. Hobby did show up and praised the work of Jim and Rebecca Harrington on the issue of workers’ compensation and then reiterated a theme heard throughout the convention. “Vote as if your life depended on it,” Hobby said, “because it does.” The convention endorsed several candidates in upcoming elections, including state Representatives Alejandro Commission candidate Samuel Sanchez. The convention also endorsed Homer Salinas in his bid to unseat Judge Horace Young of the 13th District Court of Appeals. Young had ruled against the family of Juan Torrez, who had been killed while working for Donna Fruit Company. Then state Senator Lloyd the convention’s endorsement for U.S. Senator. He told the convention that he was proud to be an attorney of record in the workers’ compensation suit. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13