Hispanic Heritage Month provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to Cesar Chavez. who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association and helped to organize the Delano Grape Strike—one of the most successful strikes in labor history. Like thousands of others, Chavez’s family lost its land in the Great Depression and headed to work in the fields of California Central Valley, where he would spend the rest of his life fighting for the rights of migrant farmworkers. On September 8, 1965, Filipino farm workers in Delano, California, who were members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, walked off the job at table grape farms to protest the low pay and poor working conditions. The leaders of AWOC reached out to Chavez to join them in their fight. Chavez insisted that the Filipino and Latino strikers work together and take a vow to remain nonviolent and expanded the goals of the strikers to include the right to Unionize and engage in collective bargaining. Realizing their common goals, the NFWA and AWOC merged to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee in 1966. After 5 years of nonviolent strikes, boycotts, marches and fasts, the UFWOC succeeded in reaching a collective bargaining agreement with table grape growers in California in 1970, resulting in better pay, benefits, and workplace conditions for thousands of workers. In 1972, The United Farm Workers Organizing Committee was accepted into the AFL-CIO and changed its name to the United Farmworkers Union.
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