OCTOBER 5, 2016 8:05 AM

United Farm Workers back Harris over Sanchez for U.S. Senate

Dolores Huerta attends a party with Attorney General Kamala Harris at the Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016. Hector Amezcua hamezcua@sacbee.com



Democrat Kamala Harris, who early in her U.S. Senate campaign won the support of labor leader Dolores Huerta, on Wednesday picked up the endorsement of the iconic organization she co-founded, the United Farm Workers.

UFW President Arturo Rodriguez acknowledged in a statement announcing the endorsement that Californians have two strong candidates, making for a “difficult choice.” But after interviewing Harris and fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez, a 20-year congresswoman from Orange, Rodriguez said UFW leaders were swayed by the results Harris produced as the state attorney general.

Rodriguez pointed to Harris’ opposition to the Secure Communities deportation program and a law limiting the state’s cooperation. Harris has consistently protected collective-bargaining rights for farm workers, he said.

“Additionally, Harris said a key factor in her decision to run for the Senate was the need to pass immigration reform, which honors farm workers and other new Americans,” he said. “As an organization we also appreciate Kamala Harris' vigorous and effective advocacy of justice for all, including advocating for farm workers receiving equal overtime pay protections.”

Rodriguez only briefly mentioned Sanchez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, who has sought to appeal to Latinos in her Senate run.

Harris campaigned at the UFW’s convention this spring in Bakersfield, where she was trailed by flag-carrying farm workers while chanting “Sí se puede!” Sanchez had planned to attend the convention but canceled, citing a family matter.