National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  April 18, 2003

A flagship of organizing

The United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO, is not so much a union as a movement, said current president Arturo Rodriguez, himself a member of the AFL-CIO’s governing executive council.

“The UFW is the flagship organization that deals with collective bargaining issues,” he said. There is also the National Farmworkers Service Center. This is a 501(c)(3) (tax exempt) corporation headed by Paul Chávez that builds low-income housing and owns a chain of radio stations, primarily in the Southwest.

LUPE, La Union del Pueblo Entero (the Union of All the People), focuses on community organizing and civic action programs, especially educating Latinos to the importance of participating in the electoral process. It reflects the early roots of UFW co-founders César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, both of whom worked with the Community Service Organization.

Chávez helped organize 22 CSO chapters across California that worked with Latinos to help them become citizens, helped them register to vote, battled police brutality and pressed for improvements in barrios, ranging from paved streets to street lighting.

The Farmworker Institute for Education and Leadership Development, FIELD, provides leadership skills training for workers. More than 1,500 went through the program in 2002.

The César Chávez Foundation focuses on service learning projects in schools and with youth. In late March, for example, a “gleaning” project had students from the fourth grade through college in the fields picking broccoli, carrots, cauliflowers and lettuce for the hungry and homeless.

-- Arthur Jones

National Catholic Reporter, April 18, 2003

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