Labor Union

United Farm Workers of America

Location:

KEENE, CA

Tax ID:

94-1448579

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $7,011,699
Expenses: $6,943,503
Assets: $4,880,974

President:

Teresa Romero

The United Farm Workers of America (UFW) is a labor union representing agricultural workers, mostly in the state of California. Cesar Chavez, a Mexican-American organizer and leader of the Chicano movement, founded the union; Chavez would become one of the best-known leaders of labor unionism in the 20th century through leading large-scale farm worker strikes in California and organizing national boycotts of grapes and lettuce. [1]

The union is based in California and principally represents workers under California’s state-level farm-worker collective bargaining procedures. [2] It is a member union of the Change to Win labor federation and is associated with a number of left-leaning labor organizations and causes such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Fight for $15 campaign, and Black Lives Matter. [3]

History

Formation

The United Farmworkers of America was founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, a Mexican-American organizer who had previously worked as a national director of the Community Service Organization (CSO). Frustrated by the lack of focus on aiding farmworkers from the CSO, Chavez left the organization to start the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). In the beginning the union mostly consisted of Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans at a time when agreements between the U.S. and Mexico allowed California growers to hire Mexican nationals as workers as long as they were not paid more than domestic workers. In 1965 the upstart union led its first strike against California grape growers, which led to a wage increase but no formal union recognition. [4]

Later in 1965, the NFWA was asked to join a strike led by an older farmworkers union, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), which had smaller membership of both Filipino and Mexican migrant workers. In 1996, the two unions merged into the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and gain an affiliation with the AFL-CIO. [5]

As the unions began to merge into one entity and conduct strikes against more farms across California, Chavez also organized national boycotts with organizers sent into big cities to encourage consumers to refrain from buying lettuce and grapes from California growers due to working conditions and pay of farmworkers. [6] Through the boycotts, Chavez became solidified as a national figure and as a leader of the Chicano Movement, which fought against anti-Mexican-American discrimination in the 1960s and 1970s. [7]

Cesar Chavez

Following the rise of the United Farm Workers, its founder Cesar Chavez became a national figure of the labor movement and was seen as a hero to many in the Latino community. While Chavez was successful in many of his goals around bringing attention to farmworkers movement, he has been criticized by many in the labor movement for not embracing illegal immigrant workers and bringing them into the fold of the UFW. Chavez was said to have viewed illegal immigrants with antipathy and viewed them as strikebreakers and a hindrance to the work of the union. He also was reported to have often wrangled with union members who wanted more of a say in the union’s operations, insisting on maintaining a firm grasp on union operations. When Chavez died in 1993, his son-in-law, Arturo Rodriguez, took over as president of UFW. [8]

When President Joe Biden took office in 2021, he redecorated the oval office with a bust of Cesar Chavez positioned behind the resolute desk. Left-leaning immigration activists praised Biden for displaying the bust and pointed to it as a symbol of the Biden Administration taking action regarding liberal expansionist immigration policies. [9]

Activities

In recent years, the United Farm Workers of America has been faced with many organizational challenges and has seen its influence and membership dwindle. The organization’s membership peaked at between 30,000 and 40,000 in the 1970s, but as of early 2021 stands at just around 6,200. The union’s health insurance plan has only remained functioning due to subsidies provided by the California State Legislature, and its pension fund has been designated as at “critical status”[10] by the U.S. Department of Labor. One labor activist conceded that the union is only successful as an education organization and no longer is helpful as an operating labor union. [11]

The UFW has increasingly had to deal with decertification votes, where employees at a particular location vote to disaffiliate with the union. One lopsided vote to throw out the UFW from a poultry plant came in response to the union’s efforts to have employers enforce restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. [12]

The organization is a member of the left-leaning Change to Win labor federation, which was formed in 2005 when several unions broke away from the AFL-CIO, the nation’s major labor union federation. [13] Change to Win currently only has four unions in its federation including the large national Service Employees International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as well as the smaller United Farm Workers of America and the Communications Workers of America. [14]

Strike for Black Lives

On July 20, 2020, United Farm Workers of America participated in the “Strike for Black Lives,” [15] a labor protest aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement. The event was a mass strike or walk out in 25 different cities in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody. [16]

The strike included UFW members as well as union members in the fast food, ride-share, nursing home, and airport industries. Other unions and left-leaning groups taking part in the event were the SEIU, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers, the SEIU-funded Fight for $15 campaign, March On, the Center for Popular Democracy, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Movement for Black Lives. [17]

Rather than racial issues, the protest was mostly centered around traditional union demands and sought to press elected officials in state and federal offices to pass laws that would require employers to raise wages. [18][19]

References

  1. Flores, Lori. “How the United Farm Workers can regain their influence.” Washington Post. September 15, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/16/how-united-farm-workers-can-regain-their-influence/ ^
  2. Martin, Philip. “Why Didn’t Collective Bargaining Transform California’s Farm Labor Market?” Center for Immigration Studies. January 1, 2004. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://cis.org/Report/Why-Didnt-Collective-Bargaining-Transform-Californias-Farm-Labor-Market ^
  3. Morrison, Aaron. “AP Exclusive: ‘Strike for Black Lives’ to highlight racism”. Associated Press. July 8, 2020. https://apnews.com/d33b36c415f5dde25f64e49ccc35ac43 ^
  4. “UFW History.” United Farm Workers. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://ufw.org/research/history/ufw-history/ ^
  5. ^
  6. Flores, Lori. “How the United Farm Workers can regain their influence.” Washington Post. September 15, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/16/how-united-farm-workers-can-regain-their-influence/ ^
  7. Flores, Lori. “How the United Farm Workers can regain their influence.” Washington Post. September 15, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/16/how-united-farm-workers-can-regain-their-influence/ ^
  8. Flores, Lori. “How the United Farm Workers can regain their influence.” Washington Post. September 15, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/16/how-united-farm-workers-can-regain-their-influence/ ^
  9. Salcedo, Andrea. “Biden’s Cesar Chavez bust in the Oval Office signals a new era for Latinos, activists hope: ‘It shows that he’s authentic.” Washington Post. January 21, 2021. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/01/21/cesar-chavez-biden-bust-ovaloffice/ ^
  10. Kasler, Dale. “How pandemic delivered humbling defeat for California’s struggling farmworkers union.” Sacramento Bee. April 22, 2021. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article250507059.html ^
  11. Kasler, Dale. “How pandemic delivered humbling defeat for California’s struggling farmworkers union.” Sacramento Bee. April 22, 2021. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article250507059.html ^
  12. Kasler, Dale. “How pandemic delivered humbling defeat for California’s struggling farmworkers union.” Sacramento Bee. April 22, 2021. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article250507059.html ^
  13. Early, Steve. “Whither Change to Win?” In These Times. Accessed May 7, 2021. http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/12074/whither_change_to_win ^
  14. “Affiliates.” Change to Win. Accessed May 7, 2021. http://www.changetowin.org/about-us/#affiliates ^
  15. ^
  16. Morrison, Aaron. “AP Exclusive: ‘Strike for Black Lives’ to highlight racism”. Associated Press. July 8, 2020. https://apnews.com/d33b36c415f5dde25f64e49ccc35ac43 ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 1975

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990 $7,011,699 $6,943,503 $4,880,974 $1,065,901 N $6,458,237 $376,261 $55,300 $655,981
    2018 Dec Form 990 $7,562,975 $6,954,634 $5,220,187 $1,621,660 N $6,509,313 $900,494 $56,011 $664,130 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $7,893,574 $6,297,751 $5,105,878 $1,916,431 N $6,760,223 $984,839 $46,387 $538,044 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $8,023,331 $8,949,757 $4,423,780 $2,754,690 N $2,382,265 $5,529,607 $43,198 $517,123 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $7,243,883 $7,047,397 $3,642,292 $1,074,404 N $2,149,720 $4,975,838 $48,319 $512,236 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $6,548,597 $6,597,120 $3,670,045 $1,200,010 N $2,691,967 $3,777,588 $50,165 $431,166 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $7,037,506 $7,226,934 $3,724,973 $1,167,315 N $2,682,858 $4,320,974 $43,188 $429,802 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $7,385,412 $8,242,609 $3,081,458 $365,706 N $2,826,601 $4,410,188 $43,052 $503,116 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $7,113,181 $6,412,917 $3,866,031 $364,007 N $2,764,938 $4,272,955 $30,869 $533,595 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    United Farm Workers of America

    PO BOX 62
    KEENE, CA 93531-0062