Arturo dedicated 45 years to the UFW, the last 25 as president—helping it survive and make real progress for farm workers after Cesar Chavez’s passing.
• One achievement was pulling farm worker pay up above the minimum wage in many of California’s large farming regions—including passage of the historic law granting farm workers overtime after eight hours a day.
He also boosted farm worker pay with dozens of negotiated and re-negotiated union contracts for vegetable, berry, mushroom, wine grape, tomato, dairy, citrus and poultry workers in three states. Unionized mushroom pickers now average $45,000 a year—plus many benefits. The UFW contract with giant D’Arrigo Brothers pays 100 percent of vegetable workers’ costly complete family health coverage.
Five hundred million dollars in health and pension benefits have gone to farm workers and their families under UFW contracts—mostly during Arturo’s tenure.
• Landmark union legislative and regulatory victories under Arturo protect both union and non-union farm workers.
For example, the UFW got Republican Governor Schwarzenegger to issue the first regulations in the nation preventing death and illness from extreme heat for California farm workers—and strengthened them under Governor Jerry Brown.
• Arturo made the UFW a national leader for immigration reform. Most recently, he negotiated with grower groups and bipartisan lawmakers to create the first farm worker immigration bill passed by the House in more than 30 years—with 34 GOP votes.
• Under Arturo, the union pioneered bold new initiatives:
—The UFW Foundation, now the largest provider of immigration legal services in rural California.
—The Equitable Food Initiative, a consortium of unions, consumer and environmental groups, growers and major retailers—collaborating to produce safer food while meaningfully improving wages and protections nationally and internationally.
—Plus the CIERTO program to remedy abuses of H-2A guest workers.
• Finally, I owe the honor of serving as the first Latina immigrant president of a national to the mentoring Arturo generously provided.
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