Magazine article Americas Quarterly

3 QUESTIONS FOR Dolores Huerta

Magazine article Americas Quarterly

3 QUESTIONS FOR Dolores Huerta

Article excerpt

Cofounder of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO.

Career community organizer and advocate for civil rights.

Founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

1When you cofounded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 (which later became the United Farm Workers), would you have predicted the impact it would have on labor rights? The United Farm Workers (UFW) infl uenced the labor movement and gave birth to the Chicano Movement by engaging the public in their strikes and boycotts. UFW union agreements that were established with agriculture employers contained health plans, pension plans and procedures for airing and addressing grievances.

In 1975, we secured passage of unemployment insurance for farm workers, allowing them to settle in communities, keep their children in school and become voters. Later, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act gave farm workers the right to organize into unions. (And as a result, farm workers in California today have some of the highest wages in the United States.)

But employers continue to resist unions. To avoid complying with labor laws, agricultural employers are using labor contractors and recruiting undocumented workers from Mexico and Central America. These workers are not covered by unemployment insurance and cannot receive public assistance. They are, however, protected by minimum wage and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

2How would you describe the current climate of Mexico's relationship to the U. …

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