CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 28, 2011 |
Richard Chavez, who helped his older brother, legendary labor organizer Cesar Chavez, build the United Farm Workers into a force in state politics and agriculture, died Wednesday. He was 81. Chavez died from complications following surgery in a Bakersfield hospital, the UFW announced. "He was one of those little-known giants within the movement. He was extremely effective," Arturo Rodriguez, the union's president, said Wednesday in an interview with The Times. Born on his family's farm near Yuma, Ariz., in November 1929, Chavez was a migrant worker as a child growing up in the Great Depression.
June 23, 2011
California's agricultural laborers work hard and lead difficult lives. Wages are low, making it nearly impossible to save enough money to secure better lives for their children. Work is seasonal, leaving long gaps in pay. Affordable housing is scarce. Laborers whose work is badly needed by growers and consumers often come to the U.S. in violation of immigration laws, making them subject to employer exploitation. For years, workers have helped tilt the balance of power in fields and factory farms incrementally by organizing themselves into labor unions.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 16, 2011 |
Forty-one years ago, Cesar Chavez and local table grape growers gathered in a squat white building surrounded by vineyards and weeds on the western edge of this Central Valley community to sign contracts that brought large-scale unionization to agriculture for the first time in history. Back then, it was the hub of a United Farm Workers complex known as 40 Acres, and "Huelga! Huelga!" — the Spanish word for "strike" — was the familiar battle cry of fieldworkers and their supporters around the world.
June 3, 2010 |
Three decades ago, Dean Florez landed the perfect summer job in this sun-baked, Kern County farm town: filling burlap sacks with 50 pounds of potatoes, then sewing them shut with a steel needle and three loops of twine. It may not sound glamorous, but it was better than his previous job hauling irrigation pipe around rose and vegetable fields for 10 and 12 hours a day in triple-digit heat. Plus, the teenage Florez got to work under a roof, eat lunch in a refrigerated rail car and put in for overtime on long days.
April 7, 2010
Chavez's legacy Re "Not just to praise Cesar," Opinion, March 31 Thank you for this nuanced article. Indeed, all heroes are human, with real flaws -- and our history books should take note, because that is how we learn how challenging it is to bring about "change," work with others and be aware of our own flaws. I have not read Miriam Pawel's book, but she might have added in the article that even the first part of Chavez's work as a labor organizer should be told with shades of gray.
November 1, 2009 |
The Union of Their Dreams Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement Miriam Pawel Bloomsbury Press: 372 pp., $28 It's hard to challenge a saint. And so, the story of the United Farm Workers union tends to start and stop with CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez, the audacious Mexican American who built the UFW. So great is his accomplishment and so dramatic his story that few writers have ventured beyond hagiography. Accounts glow with a familiar refrain: ChÃ¡vez patiently waiting for his chance, taking on the Delano table grape growers and emerging as an innovator who injected civil-rights tactics into the farmworker struggle, a modern Gandhi who induced 17 million Americans, and millions more worldwide, to stop eating grapes.