One of Cesar Chavez’s dreams was that farm workers would some day enjoy security in their retirement in exchange for their many years of hard labor and sacrifice. Today’s ceremony helps fulfill that dream.
So first, our hearty congratulations go out to Francisco Valenzuela and his family from everyone with his union, the United Farm Workers of America. Workers at Francisco’s company, HMS, were among the first farm workers who voted to be represented by the UFW after the historic state Agricultural Labor Relations Act was enacted in 1975, giving them the right to organize and negotiate union contracts with their employers.
Francisco is also one of the first farm workers to begin earning pension credits under the union’s Juan De La Cruz Pension Plan after the initial union contract with the company was signed in 1976. HMS workers are still earning pension credits under their UFW contract that continues in place.
Fewer and fewer private-sector workers in America still enjoy coverage under defined-benefit pension plans such as this one. The kind of pension Francisco is now receiving is almost unheard of among America’s farm workers—except for those workers who receive pension benefits because they are protected by UFW contracts.
The Juan De La Cruz Pension Plan has paid out pension benefits of more than $135 million since it began. This plan is in strong financial shape and does not face the problems some other plans confront.
During contract bargaining we encourage employers to consider including contributions to the plan for their workers. The plan’s contribution rates are far lower than the rates for most other plans.
We are using today’s ceremony to congratulate Francisco for his well-earned union pension. We are also here to help spread the word to other farm workers who may have qualified for pension benefits but don’t realize it or haven’t applied.
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