pushing new organizing and legislative agendas
Bakersfield, Calif.—More than two thousand farm worker delegates and supporters will attend the United Farm Workers’ 50th anniversary convention on May 18-20, in Bakersfield five decades after Cesar Chavez began organizing one of the most important movements for social change in American history. It forever changed the lives of farm workers and continues to involve— and inspire — millions of Americans from all walks of life who never worked on a farm.
Chavez’s March 31 birthday is now an official holiday in eight states with thousands of communities naming public places in his honor and holding annual observances. The UFW began five decades ago when Chavez drove to dozens of impoverished Central Valley farm towns, talking with thousands of farm workers in hundreds of small barrio houses while laboring in the fields himself to support his family. That led to the famed 1965-1970 Delano grape strike—and boycotts of grapes and other products supported by millions of Americans. They established the UFW as the first successful, and largest, farm workers union in U.S. history.
Since, California farm workers have won union contracts with previously unimaginable benefits plus historic legislative victories. Recent UFW contracts protect farm workers at some of the largest strawberry, vegetable, winery and dairy employers in America, most of the state’s fresh mushroom industry and Washington state’s biggest winery. UFW bills heading for California Gov. Jerry Brown this year would prevent more farm worker deaths from extreme heat and grant farm workers overtime pay.
Delegates from union contract ranches and farm workers presently organizing with the UFW will chart new organizing among tomato and melon workers; honor 1960s pioneers who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds by defeating one of California’s richest industries, with songs and skits performed by Luis Valdez and the Teatro Campesino; travel 28 miles to the 187-acre National Chavez Center at the Tehachapi Mountain hamlet of Keene, which hosts Chavez’s gravesite and Memorial Garden, a Visitor Center and sprawling educational center; and hear from state and local officials, top Obama administration figures, and major media celebrities. Learn more about the UFW Convention at www.ufw.org/convention.
WHO: Thousands of farm worker delegates, supporters, UFW 1960s pioneers
WHAT: UFW 50th Anniversary Convention
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 18-20, 2012
WHERE: Rabobank Convention Center, 1001 Truxton Ave., Bakersfield, CA 93301