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How farmworkers vote to unionize

 March 31, 2022 at 8:26 PM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Matt Hoffman, in for Anica Colbert. it’s Friday, April 1st>>>>

How farmworkers vote to unionize

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

Eviction protections are being extended through June for hundreds of thousands of Californians who have applied for rent relief but haven’t received it yet. On the final day of Women’s History month, California’s lieutenant governor signed the legislation into law.. In doing so she became the first woman in state history to sign a bill into law.


The San Diego Housing Commission is looking at extending operations for the downtown homeless shelter. Board members are voting today whether to approve having the nonprofit Alpha Project continue operating the tent shelter along Imperial avenue. The contract is for a year, with three options to renew. The housing commission would pay Alpha Project just under three million dollars per year to continue overseeing the 139 bed facility.


Experts are predicting an increase in cases with the more contagious BA2 variant now the dominant strain in the U-S.. but federal pandemic funding is running out. Federal officials are already cutting state allocations for potentially life saving monoclonal antibody treatments. The availability of COVID testing and vaccinations will start dwindling if no action is taken.

Dr. Eric Topol is director of the Scripps research translational institute in la Jolla..

12:05.417 Dr. Eric Topol, Scripps Research Translational Institute

This is the last time in the world to cut funding, essential funding. Whether it’s testing, vaccines monoclonal antibodies, treatments, this is crazy and shouldn’t be tolerated and this is ridiculous complacency, not acknowledging what’s going on right now

State health officials say their priority remains ensuring that everyone, regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status, has access to testing and vaccines..

The Jacobs center has been delivering COVID-19 vaccines for nearly a year in SouthEast San Diego but that’s ending Thursday.. Officials have been looking at closing their vaccination sites with low volume. The County’s Chief of Nursing Denise Foster says in some areas efforts are being shifted to mobile teams and local clinics.

VAXCLOSE 2A :15 "Versus a static site which aren’t bringing in the numbers we’ve had initially. Definitely have dropped off an in some situations, particularly the Jacobs Center we’re seeing well below 20 vaccines a day"

Foster says currently only about 10 percent of the region's vaccinations are happening at county sites. The bulk of them are given at pharmacies, hospitals and clinics.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.Stay with me for more of the local news you need.





On the day California honored the late labor leader Cesar Chavez…members of the union he co-founded …took to the streets in protest in 13 cities – including San Diego.

Leaders of United Farm Workers are demanding to meet with Governor Newsom about pending legislation that would allow farmworkers to vote to unionize by mail.

U-F-W Foundation Executive Director Diana tell-EFF-son Torres says farmworkers are being intimidated by supervisors and owners…

FARMWORKERS 2A :14 “the fact that other voters who voted for the Governer in the previous election had the opportunity to vote from home…why can’t farmer workers have the same opportunity?”

Newsom vetoed similar legislation last year because of “inconsistencies and procedural issues with collecting and reviewing ballot cards” he said.


In honor of Chavez, some volunteers chose to spend yesterday serving their community. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us more.


NCCHAVEZ 1 (0:48)

There were No classes at Cal State San Marcos in honor of Cesar Chavez Day.

But rather than sleep in, more than 200 volunteers showed up bright and early for a day of service.

Ethnic studies professor Marcelo Garzo Montalvo joined volunteers at one of the 7 service sites. He says the day also serves as a reminder of the fight that continues.

We still have a lot of exploitation and problems that are happening in our food system. So I hope today’s also a reminder that everytime we eat food we have to give thanks to a farm worker.”

Sites included the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, San Pasqual Academy, the Boys and Girls Club in Vista and Community Roots Farm in Oceanside.

Volunteers helped with different projects—whatever was needed at each site.



A class of Navy ships with a long history in San Diego are now on the chopping block. KPBS Military Reporter steve walsh says the Vessels never worked the way the Navy expected.



The Littoral Combat Ship was designed to be small and fast. Critics say it was also overly ambitious. The Navy announced this week it wants to decommission 9 LCS’s early, one less than two years old. All from the ship’s mechanically troubled Freedom Class says Bryan Clark, a former Naval officer with the Hudson Institute.

GMT20220329-190339_recording.mp4 1:55“The ships had lots of problems. Ships have had to be towed back to port. Ships have been unable to go on deployment. Ships have been stranded in places where they had to be repaired in place so those have all been really problems of the freedom class.”

Most LCS’s are less than 10 years old. San Diego will still become the home to all 16 of the Independence class ships, after the last of the LCS’s are delivered. If Congress agrees with the Navy, a few remaining Freedom class ships will be based in Florida. Steve Walsh KPBS News.


The American digital divide is nothing new. But the COVID pandemic shined a bright new light on the gap between those who could use the Internet and those who couldn’t. KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge tells of the effort to get seniors and other people digitally connected…. to protect their health and reduce their isolation.

DIGDIVIDE (tf) 4:05 …SOQ.


Tish Fleming lives in San Diego’s Gaslamp district and she remembers the beginning of the pandemic, when everything seemed to be closing down. And the only companions you had were the people who lived with you at home, if there was anyone there at all.

(20-08-04) ”I couldn’t see my family, my granddaughter… Everybody was separated. It was very, very difficult for me not to be able to be with them, not to be able to go to church.”

Fleming, age 78, says that social isolation ultimately forced her to learn to go online.

The health risk of the pandemic may have been the greatest concern for isolated seniors. They were among the people most likely to suffer hospitalization or death, as a result of a COVID infection. Many of them didn’t know how to get the things they needed as retail stores and other services closed down.

(19-43-52)“And the pandemic was just dragging on and on and on. And it became very difficult to do the basic daily tasks. Getting your medication refilled.”

Simona Valanciute is president of San Diego Oasis, which helps seniors stay engaged in healthy activities.

(19-44-02)“Seniors are not so technology-oriented. They like to come in and say, ‘I would like to make an appointment.’ They love to come in and make a joke, and talk about the weather with their banker or their pharmacist.”

San Diego Oasis created online versions of their classes and programs. The next steps were to get their clients computer tablets and teach them how to use them.

(19-47-21) “We got grants. We purchased brand new tablets. We were very intentional with the software, since you give this tablet to someone who has never had Internet or a smartphone. There are not 200 icons on it. We made it very simple and we designated one full-time staff member to do nothing but deliver these tablets and do one-on-one training.”

The situation was similar for San Diego County administration, which was responsible for reaching people who needed COVID-19 tests and, later, vaccinations. Nick Macchione, director of the San Diego County health and human services agency, said the digital divide was a primary concern.

(10-9-30) “In terms of our COVID response, there were two groups when we started. Those that had the ability with technology and knew how to use that, and the other groups that did not.”

The state and the county provided information about COVID testing and vaccination online. But the situation required an additional effort to reach people who weren’t digitally connected.

(10-14-41) “The key thing was connecting with people where they’re at. Where they were living. So literally the old fashioned knocking on doors. Or going to markets and going to different civic organizations. Places of worship.”

Like Oasis, San Diego County took steps to try to connect people to the Internet. It created “how-to” videos to teach seniors to order groceries online or set up a Facebook account.

Today, Macchione said he thinks San Diego has a much more sophisticated elderly population when it comes to technology. Valanciute agreed, and added that social realities today demand that old folks work to join the digital realm.

(19-50-50) “Human to human connection is diminishing over time. But the good news is… seniors are smart people. With the right support and the right rhythm to the learning, they will be life-long technology users,” Valanciute said.

One of those seniors who had to learn to use a computer tablet, provided by San Diego Oasis, is Bernadette Kubacki, who said using the Internet has opened up her world.

(20-15-29) “I started taking a language class, which I never had the time for before. But there we are online. Art classes. The teacher is talking about some part of a painting and I’m able to spread it out and take a look at it.”

Still, life with a computer only gets you so far.

(20-15-58) “ I wouldn’t be someone who would be sitting in front of it all day, There are a lot of other things to do in life.”

Thomas Fudge, KPBS news.

Coming up.... In the Southbay, Russian migrants are organizing a special concert for Ukrainian Refugees.. Who’s behind it, next.




This Sunday, Musicians from the Baja California Orchestra will be in Chula Vista for a charity concert for Ukrainian refugees. The orchestra was founded by Russian migrants after the fall of the Soviet Union. KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis says it still has a close connection to Eastern Europe.



Pavlo Getman was born in Ukraine and joined the Baja California Orchestra in 1993. There weren’t many opportunities for classical musicians back then.


“Claro que si. El pesimo situacion fue en Ukrainia. Apenas nos separamos de Russia. Todas las institusiones economicas y finacieras se rompiero a quell tiempo. Fue como los estados Unidos en los 30s por decir.”

Ukraine had just separated from Russia. The economy had collapsed, Getman says. It was like living in the United States during the 1930s.

So, he went to Tijuana. His wife, a pianist named Oxana Bulgakova, joined him in 2004.

Both have family in Ukraine. Right now their families are living in underground bunkers to protect themselves from Russian missile attacks.

Being so far away has left Getman feeling impotent. So they are organizing a concert for Ukrainian war refugees.


“La musica que nos une es lo unico que nos queda no? Como el Titanic y la orchestra que estaba tocando hasta el ultimo.”

Music unites us, he says. It is all we have right now. Like the orchestra that played as the Titanic sank.

The concert will be this Sunday at Mater Dei Catholic High School in Chula Vista. It will feature musicians from Ukraine, Russia, the United States and Mexico.

Gustavo Solis, KPBS News


WonderCon is Comic-Con International's sister convention and serves up a smaller, less crowded pop culture event. Comic-Con had a scaled back Special Edition last November. So this weekend's WonderCon marks the non-profit organization's first full show since the pandemic hit. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has this preview.

WONDERCON (ba) 4:10


Nathan Seekerman is a kind of superhero. For one he’s cosplayed as Steampunk Han Solo and Captain America. And while he might be disguised as a mild-mannered programmer he does display superpowers in fabricating spectacular costumes out of thin air.

NATHAN SEEKERMAN I'm a programmer as a day job, but programming background lent itself immediately to being a 3d modeler so that you start to draw your own stuff, you start to print it out, and then you finish it. and I've got a plan to do something new, unusual. We'll call it a Clone Mando.

Doing a mashup of Star Wars characters will also be the topic of a Friday panel he is on.

NATHAN SEEKERMAN The Star Wars Samurai Universe. And we're going to be talking about the impact of Samurai armor culture on the Star Wars universe. And in fact, one of the things that I'm going to get to talk about specifically is a Samurai Captain Phasma armor.

Seekerman was commissioned by Bandai to build a life sized version of its toy inspired by the character from The Force Awakens. The stunning creation Seekerman made mixes Japanese armor techniques with do it yourself ingenuity and modern materials. The result looks exactly like the toy mash up but can also be worn eight hours at a convention. Each project represents a journey for Seekerman.

NATHAN SEEKERMAN It's like I’ve learned how to do something. I've gone and presented it. I received appreciation for the work and the storytelling and then an invitation to doing charity events and then maybe do some commissions.

Like many cosplayers he does a lot of charity work often with kids, which means a costume has to allow you to do one thing.

NATHAN SEEKERMAN You got to find a way that you can get down and actually be on eye level with kids, especially sometimes the kids are in wheelchairs and you get down to their level and now you can make a connection. So, yeah, gotta be able to kneel.

Although Comic-Con has a reputation for cosplay, WonderCon may actually outdo its sister convention. Comic-Con International spokesperson David Glanzer says the WonderCon cosplay community is great.

DAVID GLANZER Typically on Sunday when the doors close at 5:00 and everybody's going to be ushered out, the cosplayers stay in the courtyard area, take pictures, mingle with each other. Nobody wants to leave and I don't blame them.

Now that WonderCon is finally back in person, it is not just cosplayers celebrating that sense of community. Glanzer says that’s one of the lessons learned from putting on the scaled back Comic-Con Special Edition in November.

DAVID GLANZER People really did want to get together again. People wanted to see their friends in person as opposed to a computer screen.

This weekend’s WonderCon is the non-profit organization’s first full fledged show since the pandemic hit in 2020. It has always been a smaller show than Comic-Con so you might even be able to buy passes at the show. Plus the Anaheim Convention Center affords WonderCon room to expand.

DAVID GLANZER We have enough space to be able to accommodate a lot more people if need be. There's a lot of programming space, a lot of exhibit space, so people can be a little less frantic about that.

That means less waiting in massive lines and more time to walk the exhibit floor and attend panels. There will be a couple Hollywood panels most notably one on the Bob’s Burgers Movie. Plus the usual diverse range of panels covering everything from queer creators to the science and history of Doctor Who to monsters for everyone. You can also learn how to paint miniatures, build an R2, and learn to do cosplay makeup.

Masks have always been popular at WonderCon but this year there will be a mandatory COVID mask requirement as well as proof of vaccination. With WonderCon back people are also looking forward to Comic-Con’s return this summer but the show’s essentially sold out because tickets purchased in 2019 have been rolled over.

DAVID GLANZER As we wrap WonderCon we will look more fully into Comic-Con and decide if there's something that we can do.

What we need is a convention TARDIS that’s bigger on the inside and can fit more people. Where’s that Doctor when we need him or her.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

TAG: Wondercon runs today through Sunday at the Anaheim Convention Center


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. This week the podcast was produced by yours truly, Matt Hoffman, and Brooke Ruth. Annica Colbert is back on Monday.. Thanks for listening… and have a great weekend

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On the day California honored the late labor leader Cesar Chavez, members of the union he co-founded rallied across the state, including here in San Diego. A class of Navy ships with a long history in San Diego are now on the chopping block. The ongoing effort to get seniors and others digitally connected.