Chavez and the Farm Workers

By Ronald B. Taylor | Go to book overview

until one woman, Rosa Parks, walked to the front of the bus and touched off a revolution.Then men and women began freedom rides, and thousands of students came to help, and many people were needlessly maimed and slaughtered."

Under the leadership of Cesar Chavez, the California grape pickers had stood up and started moving toward the front of agriculture's economic bus in September of 1965.


CHAPTER TWO : THE UNION

In the spring of 1972 the United Farm Workers of America was at the crest of its power.Its president, Cesar Chavez, was a nationally recognized labor leader and the most prominent ethnic radical in the United States. What had been a ragtag coalition of Mexican and Filipino farm workers in 1965 was now a bona fide union within the AFL-CIO.

The UFWA had 147 contracts covering 50,000 to 60,ooo jobs on farms in California, Arizona, and Florida, contracts with farms that ranged in size from 50-acre family operations to 50,000- and 100,000-acre corporate ventures by such conglomerates as Coca-Cola, Purex, Tenneco, United Fruit, and Hueblein.The union had a stable membership of 30,000 farm workers, and this number increased each spring as migrants from Texas and Mexico moved into the fruit and vegetable harvests covered by the UFWA contracts.

Chavez located the union's national headquarters in an old, abandoned tuberculosis sanitarium thirty miles east of Bakersfield in the Tehachapi Mountains.The rambling administrative buildings, hospital wings, and cottages house the 130 people who live in this place Chavez calls La Paz.In addition to the headquarters complex in the mountains, the UFWA had 26 field offices operating both hiring halls and farm

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