Blog post

Frank Bardacke on the origins of the United Farm Workers

Molly Osberg 8 October 2012

Today, President Obama designated Cesar Chavez's home a national monument. The 187-acre site, known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, acted as the United Farm Worker's central planning and coordination hub starting in 1971.

Frank Bardacke, whose book Trampling out the Vintage has been widely considered the defining history of Chavez and the iconic union he led, is interviewed today by The Take Away

"The political clout that Chavez managed to mobilize for farm workers came from linking up the farm worker movement...with the national boycott movement." Before that time, the farm workers had really been "without allies in the United States," says Bardacke.

"The guest worker program, which had been in place for 25 years — a whole generation of people — brought contracted Mexican farm workers — to California and Texas primarily — to work on farms, and was designed to prevent them from building unions, and to keep wages artificially low." When the program ended in 1964, there was a new space to build a union for farm workers.

Visit The Take Away to hear the interview in full.