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Retired farm worker getting $176,723 UFW pension check; union pension plan using event to find others who qualify

Coachella, Calif.—Frank Valenzuela, 83, a retired Coachella Valley date worker, will be presented with a blown-up, giant-sized pension check for $176,723.72 by United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez and pension plan administrators during a ceremony also attended by his family members and farm workers at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 16 in Coachella. He will also receive a monthly pension of $452.98 for the rest of his life.

Fewer and fewer private sector workers receive defined-benefit pensions, and they are unheard of in agriculture, except for retired farm workers who worked under UFW contracts. The Juan De La Cruz Pension Plan has to date paid out more than $135 million in benefits to farm workers.

Date workers at the HMS company voted for the UFW in one of the first elections held after the state’s historic Agricultural Labor Relations Act took affect in 1975. The first union contract with that company was negotiated and went into place in 1976. That is also the year the company started making contributions for Frank Valenzuela’s pension.

Including those vested but still working or those who are younger than the minimum retirement age of 55, there are about 10,000 workers eligible to draw benefits under the pension plan today. There are also around 390 potential farm worker beneficiaries who have not applied for benefits or their whereabouts are unknown. Cases such as Frank Valenzuela, who didn’t apply for his benefits until recently, are not uncommon for pension plans. That is why the Juan De La Cruz Pension Plan is using Friday’s check presentation to get out the word to others who are also entitled to benefits.

Who: Retired unionized date worker Frank Valenzuela, UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez, Juan De La Cruz Pension Plan Administrator Patrick J. Pine, Valenzuela family members, farm workers.

What: Presenting the retired date worker a check for retroactive pension benefits of $176,723.72, in addition to the $452.98 a month he will receive for the rest of his life.

When: 11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.

Where: CRLA office, 1460 – 6th St., Coachella, CA 92336.

For more about the Juan De La Cruz Pension Plan, see: http://ufw.org/jdlc/ (It includes toll free phone numbers and an inquiry form to be used by farm workers who believe they may have qualified for pensions.)

For more on Juan De La Cruz, an original UFW member who at age 60 was gunned down south of Bakersfield during the 1973 grape strike, for whom the pension plan was named, see: http://ufw.org/UFW-honors-Latino-grape-striker-killed-on-1973-picket-line/

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