Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jesus Salas Resigns

Apparently Governor Jim Doyle’s signature on the replacement Wisconsin budget has angered one University of Wisconsin Regent to the point of quitting. In his resignation letter, Jesus Salas includes a blistering condemnation of the Governors abandonment of the migrant community. Jessica McBride has an excellent break down of the accusations and refutes them, easily, one by one.

Mr. Salas was appointed to the UW Board of Regents by Governor Doyle in 2003 as a reward for years of work in the labor union movement. The Wikipedia history covers his early activism in the 1960’s. Yes – those 1960’s.

Wikipedia: Obreros Unidos (1966-1971) was an independent agricultural labor union founded in Wisconsin in 1966 by Mexican American civil rights activists Jesus Salas, Francisco Rodriguez and many more, originally Texas-based farm workers from the small town of Crystal City. The union took root after a march from Wautoma, Wisconsin, to Madison, Wisconsin that state's capitol to protest the working conditions of the thousands of annual Mexican-American migrant workers who traveled from Texas to Wisconsin each year.

Wisconsin Labor History links to Struggle for Justice, a photo-pamphlet with images from 40 years ago. The Oshkosh lady on page 7 holding TWO boycott grapes signs may very well still be showing up for protests. Such was the life changing power of the 60’s. Salas is now an old man and may be taking this latest deflation of his hopes as a sign it is time to step away from the struggle. It is also a reminder that the issues of immigration are nothing new and justice requires both a foundation in and adherence to the rule of law.