Keene, CA – In the same week that hundreds of farmworkers came to Washington, DC to push for immigration reform, the United Farm Workers and farm worker groups from across the country celebrate a historic compromise with the nation’s largest grower associations to provide a special route to legal status for the nation’s farm workers. This compromise was brokered by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The proposal will be included as part of the comprehensive bill which will now include both a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants and a separate process towards legalization and citizenship for farm workers. The UFW has been working towards this goal for over a decade with partners in the faith, labor and non-profit communities.
United Farm Workers endorse bipartisan immigration reform plan with critical protections for U.S. agricultural workers
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Tonight, working families across the country celebrate the re-election of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden – and breathe a sigh of relief that our country will move forward on the path of sanity and shared prosperity. Nothing about the last four years has been easy, from the Great Recession to Hurricane Sandy, from unrelenting partisan obstruction by Republicans to the greatest onslaught of negative ads ever unleashed against an American president.
Throughout the tumult, President Obama and Vice President Biden have been steadfast allies of working men and women and the values we cherish, focused on repairing the economy, rebuilding the ladder to the middle class and investing in our shared future. That’s why workers and their unions made an historic effort on their behalf, bringing home the vote for the President from Nevada to Ohio, from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania.
With “Osama dead and GM alive” and the economy beginning to pick up steam, we are ready to work together with the President and all willing parties to win greater equality and economic opportunity for all – starting with ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and opposing any cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.
Ace Tomato workers are close to getting a contract after waiting 23 yrs. Will you sign the petition?
United Farm Workers
Workers at Ace Tomato are tired of waiting. They are tired of dirty bathrooms, the lack of fresh water and decades of low pay. You might ask, why don’t they vote for a union? They did—back in 1989! But, more than two decades later they still are waiting for their contract.
The UFW fought for and passed a law in California requiring employers to negotiate in good faith or face mandatory mediation. The way this works is a mediator speaks to both sides and neutrally sifts through both sides’ documents and recommendations and at the end submits a report of terms to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) which is essentially a contract. After several months of discussion, the mediator submitted his report to the ALRB on June 28. The company objected, but on July 25 the ALRB ruled against the company and ordered Ace Tomato to implement the final mediator’s report as the contract. Instead Ace decided to follow their normal delaying tactics and ignored the Board order. Now the ALRB is saying, while the contract should be in effect, the Board has no basis at this time to seek enforcement.
The UFW is planning on following up through every avenue possible. But in the meantime we ask you to join us in helping the workers keep up the pressure. The first way you can help is sign a petition workers will deliver to the company on Tuesday.
United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez and Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez issued the following joint statement from the farm worker movement’s Keene, Calif. headquarters on the announcement that President Obama will present Dolores Huerta with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Cesar Chavez once described Dolores Huerta as “completely fearless, both mentally and physically.”
Over six decades, Dolores Huerta put the nonviolent fight for civil and labor rights ahead of her personal interests, and sometimes before her personal safety. Like all the farm worker strikers and boycotters, she accepted a life of voluntary poverty for many decades. Her dynamic and inspiring leadership through the most difficult and turbulent times in the farm worker movement’s history established her not only as a leader of farm workers but as a role model for women and men across this nation and beyond.
We congratulate Dolores on receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor. No one is more deserving after a lifetime of self-sacrifice and deep dedication to defending the poorest and most abused people in our country.
Dolores Huerta is an Honorary Chair of DSA
By Niesha Lofing
Managing Editor, Sacramento Labor Bulletin
Thousands of workers, union members, labor advocates and elected officials braved torrential downpours on March 31 to pay tribute to the life and work of César Chávez during the 12th annual march and rally in Sacramento.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the United Farm Workers, and Chávez’s hard work continues today, noted Bill Camp, executive secretary of the Sacramento Central Labor Council.
Farm workers have recently won new protections through contracts with the largest strawberry grower and winery in the country, the biggest vegetable growers in the state and one of the largest dairies in the nation.
But the work isn’t yet done, he said. (more…)
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Labor History, Organizing, Politics | Tagged: California, Cesar Chavez, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Sacramento California, Trade union, UFW, United Farm Workers, United States | 2 Comments »
by Duane E. Campbell
Cesar Chavez Day is a state holiday in California – one of eight states to recognize the date, and one of the few holidays in the nation dedicated to a labor leader. Sacramento and dozens of cities, counties and labor federations will celebrate the life of Cesar Chavez on March 31, 2012,
On March 26, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis honored Cesar Chavez and the UFW founders by dedicating the auditorium at the Department of Labor in Chavez’s name.
Mexican labor leader Jose Humberto Montes de Oca of the SME, electrical workers union will lead the Sacramento march on March 31. Montes do Oca and the SME in Mexico are fighting for survival against a repressive government. In central Mexico 44,000 Electrical Power Workers (SME) were fired to privatize the industry and destroy the union.
This year, 2012 is the 50th. anniversary of the founding of the U.F.W. The Cesar Chavez celebrations focus on the struggle for union rights and justice in the fields of California. Along with Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and others, César created the United Farm Workers (UFW) the first successful union of farm workers in U.S. history. There had been more than ten prior attempts to build a farm workers union. (more…)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Immigrant Workers, Labor History, Politics, Solidarity | Tagged: California, California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, UFW, United Farm Workers | Leave a Comment »
Review of Frank Bardacke, Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers (New York: Verso), 742pp, hardcover, $54.95.*
Frank Bardacke labored over this book for fifteen years. We can be grateful that he didn’t give up. This is the best history ever written of the United Farm Workers (UFW) and Cesar Chavez. It explains better than any other book how the UFW under Chavez’s leadership became in the 1960s and 1970s one of the most remarkable and successful unions in U.S. history but then crashed and burned so breathtakingly fast that by the end of the 1980s it had pretty much disappeared from the fields. Bardacke relies on primary sources—letters, interviews, personal papers, archives, newspaper accounts, court and police records, his own considerable experiences as a farm laborer (He spent six seasons in the fields between 1971 and 1979. A minor political conflict with the union during the 1979 lettuce strike led to his blacklisting by both the growers and the union, and this forced him to take up other employment). In the main, he lets the record speak for itself, avoiding the apologetics or the rancor we typically find in books, articles, and reviews about the UFW and Chavez.
Several things set Bardacke’s history apart from everything that preceded it. First, he pays attention to the farm workers themselves, to their organizing history, the nature of their work, and the changes that have taken place in their industry. His descriptions of the skilled, difficult, and body-destroying work of harvesting lettuce, celery, broccoli, asparagus, and lemons are among the most moving and beautifully written parts of the book. They help to foreground the author’s demonstration that the organization of farm workers did not spring suddenly from the will of Cesar Chavez. As Bardacke shows with scores of examples, agricultural workers have been doing battle with their employers for nearly one hundred years. Their skills, the short time the growers have to get crops harvested, and the self-organization of the workers, especially those who toiled as part of tightly-knit teams, all combined to create a sense of potential power, power that became reality when conditions were propitious.
Trampling Out the Vintage ?
by Duane Campbell
A dissident’s view of the rise and the fall of the United Farm Workers union.
Frank Bardacke’s Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers. (2011, Verso). is the view of a well- informed observer who worked in the lettuce fields near Salinas for six seasons, then spent another 25 years teaching English to farm workers in the Watsonville, Cal. area. His views on the growth and decline of the United Farm Workers union – some of which I do not share– offer important points of history and reflection for unionists today, particularly those working with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Trampling Out the Vintage, provides several insights not previously developed in well informed books on the UFW including important differences between grape workers and workers in row crops such as lettuce; the length of time workers were in the UFW, the more settled family nature of grape workers, the strength of each type of ranch committees, the leadership of ranch crews ( and thus the potential differences in creating democratic accountability), and the differing histories of worker militancy in different crops. The author correctly argues that each of these led to somewhat different organizing environment in building the union. He also details problems of administrative mismanagement in the hiring halls in the grape areas and alleged mismanagement of organizing within the union sponsored health care insurance and clinic systems .
Based upon his own experiences and the histories of workers in the Salinas valley, Bardacke makes the case that farm workers- not Cesar Chavez – created the union. They built their union on a long history of previous collective work stoppages and strikes. The union was created on the ground in Delano, Salinas, Watsonville, and surrounding towns- not in the union headquarters of La Paz. The author reveals his strong viewpoint in the title apparently referring to Chavez “Trampling out the Vintage” where a union had been created. (more…)
by Randy Shaw
For all of his lurches to the right, disdain for public input, and refusal to work collaboratively, California Governor Jerry Brown has always been defended by those who appreciated his support for Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers movement. Brown signed the landmark Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, and only Robert Kennedy rivals him as the UFW’s greatest political ally. Brown admired Cesar Chavez and sought his approval; the UFW responded by providing key staff support for his 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns, and by building Latino support for all of his California races. Despite this legacy, on June 28 Brown vetoed a farmworker organizing bill that his Republican predecessor had vetoed four times, and which had broad Democratic Party support. Brown’s alignment with wealthy growers against indigent workers picking crops in the fields surely has Chavez turning over in his grave, and shows that the Governor views the UFW as just another group he is willing to betray.
The UFW has taken its share of hits in recent years, with many arguing that the union has long foregone the grassroots organizing once critical to its success. But former California Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed UFW bills allowing workers to unionize by signing cards rather than requiring an election four times, and most assumed that the measure would be signed by new Governor Jerry Brown.
This assumption was wrong.