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United Farm Workers

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Title: United Farm Workers  
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Subject: Mexican American, Change to Win Federation, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Chicano Movement, Barbara Carrasco
Collection: Agricultural Labor, Agriculture and Forestry Trade Unions, Agriculture in California, Asian-American Organizations, Boycott Organizers, Central Valley (California), Change to Win Federation, History of Labor Relations in the United States, History of the United States (1964–80), Labor Relations in California, Mexican-American Organizations, Organizations Based in California, San Joaquin Valley, Trade Unions Established in 1962, Trade Unions in the United States, United Farm Workers, United States Agriculture and Forestry Trade Unions
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United Farm Workers

Full name United Farm Workers of America
Founded 1962 (1962)
Members 10,278 (2013)[1]
Affiliation Change to Win Federation
Key people Arturo Rodriguez, president
Office location Keene, California
Country United States
Website .org.ufwwww

The United Farm Workers of America, or more commonly just United Farm Workers (UFW), is a labor union for AFL-CIO in 1972 and changed its name to the United Farmworkers Union.[3]


  • History 1
    • Founding of the UFW 1.1
    • Historic Complications in Organizing Farm Workers Prior to UFW Formation 1.2
    • Texas Strike 1.3
    • Texas Campaign 1.4
    • 1970s 1.5
    • 1980s 1.6
    • Recent developments 1.7
  • Roles 2
  • Archival collections 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6
    • Other 6.1


Founding of the UFW

  • Official website
  • Collected papers of the UFW and related organizations are held at the Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University. The website also has an image gallery with 400 photographs.
  • Farmworker Movement Documentation Project
  • United Farm Workers Union: 1965 Grape Boycott Case Study - University of California, Berkeley
  • California UFW collective bargaining agreements - A searchable and browseable collection from the UC Davis Library.
  • United Farm Workers Union entry, Encyclopedia of Texas Online Edition
  • Farm Workers in Washington State History Project, a multimedia section of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project on UFW and pre-UFW farm worker organizing, including interviews with organizers, historical photographs, digitized newspaper articles and a ten-part essay on farm worker struggles in the State.
  • University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections - Vietnam War Era Ephemera This collection contains leaflets and newspapers that were distributed on the University of Washington campus during the decades of the 1960s and 1970s. Includes ephemera from the United Farm Workers.
  • Cal Poly Pomona University Library UFW Collection
  • The Rise and Fall of the United Farm Workers by Michael D. Yates, Monthly Review
  • Cesar Chavez, The biographical movie, released in 2014 and featuring archival footage and chronicle of the first decade of the UFW.


External links

  • Araiza, Lauren. To March for Others: The Black Freedom Struggle and the United Farm Workers. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
  • Bardacke, Frank. "Cesar's Ghost: Rise and Fall of the UFW." The Nation. July 26, 1993. [7]
  • Bardacke, Frank. Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers. London and New York: Verso, 2011.
  • Ferriss, Susan; Sandoval, Ricardo; and Hembree, Diana. The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1998. ISBN 0-15-600598-0
  • Ganz, Marshall. Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement. Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-516201-1
  • Gutierrez, David G. Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. ISBN 0-520-20219-8
  • Nelson, Eugene. Huelga! The First One Hundred Days of the Delano Grape Strike. Delano, Calif.: Farm Worker Press, 1966.
  • Pawel, Miriam. "Farmworkers Reap Little as Union Strays From Its Roots." Los Angeles Times. January 8, 2006. [8]
  • Pawel, Miriam. The Union of Their Dreams. Bloomsbury Press, 2009.
  • Pawel, Miriam. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography. Bloomsbury Press, 2014.
  • Shaw, Randy. Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-520-25107-6

Further reading

  1. ^ US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-323. Report submitted April 22, 2014.
  2. ^ UFW: The Official Web Page of the United Farm Workers of America
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tejada-Flores, Rick. "The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle". Independent Television Service (ITVS). Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Shaw, Randy. Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Print.
  6. ^ Levy, Jacques E. Cesar Chavez: Autobiography of La Causa. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1975. Print.
  7. ^ Quinones, Sam (2011-07-28). "Richard Chavez dies at 81; brother of Cesar Chavez (He helped Cesar Chavez build the United Farm Workers into a political and agricultural force. He organized the California grape boycott in the late 1960s.)".  
  8. ^ Nevarez, Griselda (2011-07-28). "United Farm Workers co-founder Richard Chavez dies".  
  9. ^ a b US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-323. (Search)
  10. ^ a b Brazil, Eric (12 April 2014). "(Review of) 'The Crusades of Cesar Chavez,' by Miriam Pawel". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Pawel, Miriam (January 10, 2006). "Decisions of Long Ago Shape the Union Today". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 26, 2015. 
  12. ^ "UFW at 50: A history of Cesar Chavez and the UFW". The Bakersfield Californian. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Take Action: Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez was the fourth farm worker in the last two weeks to die of heat stroke
  14. ^ New Regulations Help Protect Workers From Heat,
  15. ^ [5]
  16. ^ García, Juan R. ["Beyond The Fields: Cesar Chavez, The UFW, And The Struggle For Justice In The 21St Century."] Journal Of American Ethnic History 31.4 (2012): 100-102.Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.
  17. ^ [6]
  18. ^ "AFL Discriminates Against UFW." Working Life. February 22, 2006.


  • The Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University is the official repository of the United Farm Workers Union. Collections include the papers of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta as well as numerous administrative records and personal papers. Visit the United Farm Workers Collections at the Reuther Library.
  • Jerry Cohen Papers in the Archives & Special Collections at Amherst College. Cohen was General Counsel of the United Farm Workers of America and personal attorney of César Chávez from 1967-1979.
  • United Farm Workers Records. 1968-1976. circa 0.1 Cubic Ft. At the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.
  • King County Labor Council of Washington Records. 1889-2008. 41.26 cubic ft. (61 boxes). At the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.
  • Guide to the United Farm Workers Information Fair Collection. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.
  • Rosalinda Guillen and Joseph Moore Papers. - Court Case Documents, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery Picket, Joseph Moore Speeding Ticket

Archival collections

On July 22, 2005, the UFW announced that it was joining the Change to Win Federation, a coalition of labor unions functioning as an alternative to the AFL-CIO. On January 13, 2006, the union officially disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO. In contrast to other Change to Win-affiliated unions, the AFL-CIO neglected to offer the right of affiliation to regional bodies to the UFW.[18]

The union publicly adopted the principles of non-violence championed by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The United Farm Workers allows farmworkers to help improve their working conditions and wages. The UFW embraces nonviolence in its attempt to cultivate members on political and social issues.[17]

The role of Cesar Chavez, the founder of UFW, was to frame his campaigns in terms of consumer safety and involving social justice, bringing benefits to the farmworker unions. One of UFW’s, along with Cesar Chavez’s, important aspects that has been overlooked is building coalitions.[16]

The United Farm Workers, a working class movement, had incurred substantial support from the middle class, causing problems of power and control within the union. The UFW gave no structural power to farm workers, as there were no locals elected as staff and because the survival of the staff wasn't linked directly to membership since they made more money from outside sources than union dues. Today, the UFW only consists of five thousand members who work in very similar low conditions as they did 40 years ago.[15]


César Chávez is a film released in March, 2014, directed by Diego Luna about the life of the Mexican-American labor leader who co-founded the United Farm Workers. The film stars Michael Peña as Chávez. Co-producer John Malkovich also co-stars in the role of an owner of a large industrial grape farm who leads the sometimes violent opposition to Chávez's organizing efforts.

In July 2008 the farm worker Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez, 48, died of a heat stroke. According to United Farm Workers, he was the "13th farm worker heat death since CA Governor Schwarzenegger took office"[13] in 2003. In 2006 California's first permanent heat regulations were enacted[14] but these regulations were not strictly enforced, the union contended.

Recent developments

In the 1980s, the UFW joined with the AFL-CIO and other organizations for the national Wrath of Grapes campaign, re-instituting the grape boycott.

[10] In 1983, Republican Gov. [3] In the 1980s, the membership of the UFW shrank, as did its national prominence.


The battles in the fields became violent, with a number of UFW members killed on the picket line. The violence led the state in 1975 to enact the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, creating an administrative agency, the ALRB, that oversaw secret ballot elections and resolved charges of unfair labor practices, like failing to bargain in good faith, or discrimination against activists. In the late 1970s, the leadership of the UFW was wracked by a series of conflicts, as differences emerged between Chavez and some of his former colleagues.[11]

The UFW responded with strikes, lawsuits and boycotts, including secondary boycotts in the retail grocery industry. The union struggled to regain the members it had lost in the lettuce fields; it never fully recovered its strength in grapes, due in some part to incompetent management of the hiring halls it had established that seemed to favor some workers over others.

The union was poised to launch its next major campaign in the lettuce fields in 1970 when a deal between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the growers nearly destroyed it. Initially the Teamsters signed contracts with lettuce growers in the Salinas Valley, who wanted to avoid recognizing the UFW. Then in 1973, when the three-year UFW grape contracts expired, the grape growers signed contracts giving the Teamsters the right to represent the workers who had been members of the UFW.

In 1970, Chavez decided to move the union's headquarters from Delano to La Paz, California into a former sanatorium in the Tehachapi Mountains. Whereas Chavez thought this change would aid the creation of "a national union of the poor ... serving the needs of all who suffer," other union members objected to this distancing of the leadership away from the farmworkers.[10]

Membership (US records)[9]

Finances (US records; ×$1000)[9]
     Assets      Liabilities      Receipts      Disbursements


In mid-1973 the San Antonio office of the UFOC was taken over by the Brown Berets. This radicalization of the San Antonio UFOC office led to the eventual collapse of the San Antonio UFOC organizing campaign.

TJ worked for UFOC for about 2 years and his responsibilities included organizing the Grape Boycott in San Antonio. His primary target was the H.E.B grocery store chain. In addition, he attempted to organize Hispanic farm workers working the farmers market in San Antonio — an institution at that time controlled by the corporate farms. Among his many organizing activities included an early 1972 episode where he and several other UFOC staff members who were attempting to organize warehouse workers in San Antonio were fired upon by security agents of the corporate farm owners.

By mid-1971 the Texas campaign was well underway. In Sept. 1971, Thomas John Wakely, recent discharge from the United States Air Force joined the San Antonio office of the Texas campaign. His pay was room and board, $5.00 a week plus all of the menudo he could eat. The menudo was provided to the UFOC staff by the families of migrant workers working the Texas fields.

Texas Campaign

At the end of June as the harvest was ending, members of the Senate Subcommittee on Migratory Labor, including Senators Harrison Williams and San Juan, Texas, independent of César Chávez.

Protestors arrived in Austin in time for a Labor Day rally, but no changes in law resulted. Strikes and arrests continued in Rio Grande City through 1966 into 1967. Violence increased as the spring melon crop ripened and time neared for the May harvest. In June, when beatings of two UFWOC supporters by Texas rangers surfaced, tempers flared.

On July 4, members of UFWOC, strikers, and members of the clergy set out on a march to Austin to demand the $1.25 minimum wage and other improvements for farm workers. Press coverage intensified as the marchers made their way north in the summer heat. Politicians, members of the AFL-CIO, and the Texas Council of Churches accompanied the protestors. Gov. John Connally, who had refused to meet them in Austin, traveled to New Braunfels with then House Speaker Ben Barnes, and Attorney General Waggoner Carr to intercept the march and inform strikers that their efforts would have no effect.

On June 1, Nelson led workers to strike demanding $1.25 as a minimum hourly wage, protesting La Casita Farms and others packing sheds. The activists also protested the hiring of "scab" labor, mostly those with green card visas from Mexico, who were allowed to cross the border as day workers. In the dispute, reports and allegations of vandalism to equipment, produce, and public property caused Starr County officials, along with the support of the growers, to call for additional law enforcement, which arrived in the form of the Texas Rangers. Both county officials and rangers arrested protestors for secondary picketing, standing within 50 feet of one another, a practice illegal at the time. Allegations of brutality and questions of jurisdictional limits created national headlines in what came to be known as "La Huelga."

In May 1966, California farm worker activist Antonio Orendain, and Bill Chandler.

Texas Strike

In 1941, the United States Government and the Mexican Government enacted the Bracero Program. Initially, this joint project between the United States and Mexico was established during the Second World War in order to address labor shortages by allowing "guest workers" from Mexico to work in the American agricultural industry until the end of the crop harvest. Thousands of Mexican Nationals were brought north to work in the fields in the United States and growers used this opportunity to undercut domestic wages, and the Braceros were also utilized in breaking strikes from resident farm workers. This program was extended until 1964.[3]

In 1936, the National Labor Relations Act was put into effect. This legislation provided most American workers the right to join unions and bargain collectively. Agricultural workers were exempt from the protection of this law. Some believe that this labor category was excluded as a result of a political tactic to gain the support of Southern politicians in the passing of this law.[3]

In the later teens and 1920s in the United States, further attempts to organize farm laborers were undertaken by spontaneous local efforts, and some which were led by communist unions. These attempts also resulted in failure because during that time employers were not required by law to involve themselves with negotiations with their workers. During this time period, Employers could also legally fire their employees if they chose to join a union.[3]

[5] In 1913, the

In the early history of American agriculture, farm workers experienced many failed attempts to organize agricultural laborers. In 1903, Japanese and Mexican farm workers attempted to come together to fight for better wages and better working conditions. This attempt to organize agricultural laborers was ignored and disbanded when organizations, such as the American Federation of Labor, neglected to support their efforts, many of which withheld assistance on the basis of race.[5]

Historic Complications in Organizing Farm Workers Prior to UFW Formation

Although still in its infant stages, the organization lent its support to a strike by workers in the rose industry in 1965. This initial protest by the young organization resulted in a failed attempt to strike against the rose industry. That same year the farm workers who worked in the Delano fields of California wanted to strike against the growers in response to the grower’s refusal to raise wages from $1.20 to $1.40 an hour, and they sought out Chávez and the National Farm Workers Association for support. The Delano agricultural workers were majority Filipino workers who were affiliated with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee which was a charter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. The unification of these two organizations, in an attempt to boycott table grapes which were grown in the Delano fields, resulted in the creation of the United Farm Workers of America.[5]

[8] Also in 1962, [5] By 1965 the National Farm Workers Association had acquired twelve hundred members through Chávez’s person-to-person recruitment efforts which he learned from Fred Ross just a decade earlier. Out of those twelve hundred, only about two hundred paid dues.

UFW Flag

In March 1962 at the Community Service Organization convention, Chávez proposed a pilot project for organizing farm workers which was rejected by the organization’s members. Chávez’s reaction to this led him to resign from the organization in order to pursue his goal of creating a farm workers union which would later come to be known as the National Farm Workers Association.[5]

César Chávez’s ultimate goal in his participation with the Community Service Organization and the [5]

[6][5] During Chávez’s participation in the Community Service Organization, Fred Ross trained César Chávez in the grassroots, door-to-door,

To further her cause, Huerta created the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA) in 1960. Through the AWA, she lobbied politicians on many issues, including allowing migrant workers without U.S. citizenship to receive public assistance and pensions and creating Spanish-language voting ballots and driver's tests. In 1962, she co-founded a workers' union with César Chávez, which was later known as the United Farm Workers (UFW). The two made a great team. Chávez was the dynamic leader and speaker and Huerta was a skilled organizer and tough negotiator. Huerta was instrumental in the union's many successes, including the strikes against California grape growers in the 1960s and 1970s.[4]

By 1959, César Chávez had already established professional relationships with local community organizations that aimed to empower the working class population by encouraging them to become more politically active. In 1952, Chávez met Saul Alinsky.[5]


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