How the United Farm Workers Made Workplaces Safer

Jan 13, 2021 | Labor and Employment, Work Accidents

The United Farm Workers demanded long term policy changes. Through boycotts and other forms of activism, farmworkers succeeded in passing the California Agriculture Labor Relations Act of 1975, which established collective-bargaining power for farmworkers statewide.

Who are the United Farm Workers?

The National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) was the forerunner of the United Farm workers. They are well known for the grape boycott in the late 1960s which forced producers to improve working conditions for migrant farm workers. The union merged with the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFO-CIO) in 1966. The union achieved collective bargaining rights for farmworkers across the United States.

Cesar Chavez, a Mexican-American civil-rights activist, and Doloras Huerta, a civil rights activist, spearheaded the boycott of popular California fruit because of the poor pay and work conditions for agricultural workers. They created the United Farm Workers focus specifically on improving wages and working conditions for migrant farmworkers. They promoted using nonviolent tactics like marches and hunger strikes to draw national attention to the civil-rights conversation.

Chavez worked first to gain the trust and loyalty of the workers in central California. He set up a credit union so members could participate in cooperative food and drug store, service stations, a newspaper, and to receive insurance programs. The program also provided civic help to their members. They bailed members out of jail, provided legal help, assisted with filing income taxes, gave laborers a forum to gather, state their grievances, and exercise their freedom of speech. These programs proved to be great help to the already low income status of majority of the farmer workers.

United Farm Worker’s Movement of Today

Today, the United Farm Workers continue promote non-violence and seek to educate their members on political and social issues. Mostly, they are organized in major agricultural sectors like berry, winery, tomatoes, dairy, and mushrooms.

Five years after the Delano grape strike, growers agreed to a contract that made significant improvements for farmworkers. Workers saw pay raises, healthcare benefits, and safety protections from pesticides. These important workplace rights were hard-fought, and modern employers are obligated to follow the laws and policies that protect workers. Even so, some companies refuse to provide workers with the rights that they deserve.

If you believe your employment rights have been violated by unfair workplace policies, contact an attorney. A workplace lawyer can advise you of your rights and help ensure you receive the just treatment you’re entitled to in the workplace.



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