Civil rights activist and labor leader Dolores Huerta was arrested Tuesday in Fresno while protesting with union representatives seeking a living wage for home care workers.
Hundreds of demonstrators with the Service Employees International Union, many of whom have gone without a pay increase for more than 10 years, gathered outside the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting. The SEIU represents home care, skilled nursing facility and assisted living center workers.
Huerta, 89, was one of eight people arrested for allegedly failing to disperse after being ordered to do so. According to Fresno County sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti, six of those arrested — including Huerta — were released after receiving a citation for a misdemeanor charge. Two others were booked into Fresno County Jail for allegedly obstructing the doorway of a public business establishment and resisting arrest.
Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez and coined the iconic phrase, “Si, se puede” (“Yes, we can”), has been jailed and beaten dozens of times over the course of her life. After her arrest, Huerta told reporters that she plans to continue protesting and hopes other leaders will stand up for workers.
“These supervisors who make over $100,000 a year should think about these workers who do the terrible, difficult hard work that they do,” she said. “What would the disabled and the seniors do without the home care workers who take care of them? None of those supervisors could do that job. Home care workers deserve to be treated better.”
Caregivers in California currently make a minimum wage of $12. At SEIU’s last bargaining session with the Board of Supervisors in July, workers were offered a 10-cent pay increase. SEIU wants at least a dollar more.
The next bargaining session is slated for Thursday.
According to the Fresno Bee, more than 17,000 people in Fresno County rely on caregivers.