Filipino Americans and the Farm Labor Movement

by Angelo Lopez

Recently a movie about Cesar Chavez came out that documents the life of Cesar Chavez and his role in the Delano Grape Strike of 1965. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve read that it’s a good movie. One of the things that the movie does is bring out the important but largely forgotten contributions of Filipino Americans to the farm labor movement. Since the 1920s, when Filipinos first learned to organize into unions in Hawaii, Filipinos were important leaders in organizing farmworkers to fight against unfair working conditions. Here is a cartoon I did for the April 16 edition of the Philippines Today to commemorate those forgotten Filipino leaders.

Alex S. Fabros, Jr. and Daniel P. Gonzales wrote a good article about some of the history of Filipino Americans in farm labor organizing.
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Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta recognized for their labor leadership

Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta recognized for their life long contributions to organized labor and social justice.

Cesar Chavez at the Delano UFW rally.

Cesar Chavez at the Delano UFW rally. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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, 2013.

The  year  2012 was the 50th. anniversary of the founding of the U.F.W.  by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz and others.  The   celebrations focused  on  the struggle for union rights and justice in the fields of California.

The United Farm Workers  (UFW) was 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.   Each of the prior attempts  were destroyed by racism and corporate power. Chávez and Huerta  chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and community organizing  and allied itself  with the churches, students,  and organized labor.  The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing  in the Southwest  and contributed significantly to the birth of Latino politics in the U.S. Continue reading

Cesar Chavez Day marks 50th. Anniversary of the UFW

by Duane E.  Campbell

Cesar Chavez at the Delano UFW rally.

Cesar Chavez at the Delano UFW rally. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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. Continue reading

The legacy of Cesar Chavez and the budget crises of today

Cesar Chavez and Duane Campbell

By  Duane E. Campbell

On March 31, 2011, California and ten  other states will celebrate the life and work of labor organizer Cesar Chavez.  State workers will have the day off.  Ironically, however, farm workers will not.  It is interesting that these states take a day off to recognize the contributions of a labor leader while cutting vital services for poor people.   Meanwhile the spirit of Cesar Chavez lives on in the struggle for union rights and justice in the fields of California, Ohio, and Florida as well as  in the struggles for union rights and workers dignity in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.  What can we learn from the creation of the UFW that is useful today?

Along with Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cr,uz, 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.

Each of the prior attempts to organize farm worker unions were destroyed by racism and corporate power. Chávez chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and community organizing  and allied itself  with the churches, students,  and organized labor.  The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing  in the Southwest  and contributed significantly to the growth  of Latino politics in the U.S. The UFW has shown unions that immigrants can  and must be organized.

César Chavez, Dolores Huerta,  Philip Vera Cruz, and others deliberately created a multiracial organization, Mexican immigrants,  Mexican American, Filipino, African-American, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Arab workers, among others, have been part of the UFW.  This cross racial organizing  was necessary in order to combat the  prior divisions and exploitations of workers based upon race and language. Dividing the workers on racial, language lines and immigration status  always left the corporations the winners. Continue reading

Why David Sometimes Wins: Marshall Ganz Looks at the UFW

Why David Sometimes Wins; Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement. Marshall Ganz. 2009. Oxford University Press.

reviewed by Duane Campbell

9780195162011

To most people, even to union activists, the struggle to create the United Farmworkers Union (now part of the Change to Win Federation) is a tale from long ago and far away. Even to those of us who participated in these events, the memories of the great battles of the 60’s and 70’s are passing in importance. Now, along comes the just published book, Why David Sometimes Wins, to offer new insights into some of the complex history of building this particular social movement.

Marshall Ganz retells the important story of the creation of the first successful farm workers union for important analysis. The author was Director of Organizing for the United Farmworkers and served in a variety of positions including Executive Board Member between 1973 and 1982; his writing is that of a well-informed insider of one of the critical battles in union and Chicano history. The questions considered are important and relevant to union building, movement building and the interaction of the two today.

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