Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta recognized for their life long contributions to organized labor and social justice.
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.
Today, under the leadership of UFW president Arturo Rodriguez, only about 25,000 farm workers enjoy benefits on the job. Wages and benefit in farm labor have again been reduced to the pre union levels. The UFW has shown unions that immigrants can and must be organized.
Both Chavez and DSA Honorary Chair Dolores Huerta have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor and in the California Hall of Fame for their work.
The UFW is known for helping to create California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975 under then Governor Jerry Brown which gives farm workers collective bargaining rights. The law was made necessary by the assault on the UFW of the Teamsters Union. While farm workers are often able to win elections under the ALRB, they seldom can win a contract. Growers stall and delay until the workers leave the area.
Dolores Huerta remains active as a staunch advocate for women’s rights and reproductive freedom. Huerta is a founding board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation and serves on the board of Ms. Magazine as well as her service as an Honorary DSA Chair. She is active in the Democratic Party Conventions and campaigns and she frequently speaks at universities and organizational forums and union halls on issues of social justice and public policy. Dolores continues working to develop community leaders and advocating for the working poor, immigrants, women and youth as President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.