Author Archive | miriam pawel

An Historic Day for Labor

Labor Day falls this year on the anniversary of a truly historic labor victory. Forty-eight years ago today, workers gathered in a hall in Delano, California, nervously awaiting the results of the first election in the fields: The fight to represent farmworkers who picked grapes at giant DiGiorgio Company. It was an election, Cesar Chavez later said, that […]

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Health Care for Farmworkers, or an infusion for an ailing union?

  The Robert F. Kennedy health insurance plan illustrates two extremes of Cesar Chavez’s legacy for farmworkers. In the early 1970s, the UFW-sponsored plan provided much-needed health care for farmworkers and epitomized the audacious triumphs that grew from Chavez’s soaring vision. But within a decade, the insurance program came crashing to earth in a bureaucratic mess. Staffed […]

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The Drought and Farmworkers

With the entire state of California now on a severe drought watch, there’s lots of attention and hand-wringing about the impact on consumers, what the drought means for lawns and golf courses, and the increased fire danger. But in California’s San Joaquin Valley, home to several of the highest-producing agricultural counties in the country, the […]

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Braceros, redux

A California strawberry grower illegally employed guest workers without offering jobs to locals, required kickbacks, housed the workers in substandard conditions, and cheated them of wages. Sounds like the stories from the 1950s, when labor, religious and civic groups fought to end the Mexican guest worker program, which enabled growers to bypass local workers in […]

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Crusades of Cesar Chavez, Week One

It’s been a whirlwind first week! I’ve done about 25 interviews with local and national print, radio and television media — in studio, skype podcasts, and phone interviews. The conversations have been thoughtful and thought-provoking, touching on issues including immigration, movement-building, and of course, details of Chavez’s life. I’ve also written a couple of pieces, […]

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A terrific movie

Sometimes truth is more dramatic than fiction. If you want to watch the best movie made about Cesar Chavez and the farmworker movement, all you need is an internet connection. Several old movies now online capture the spirit and action of the times — not to mention the vintage cars, hairstyles, dress, and music – […]

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An Iconic Image

  Forty-six years ago today, Cesar Chavez broke a 25-day fast in Delano, California, with Senator Robert F. Kennedy by his side. The picture of the rising political star and the weakened but equally charismatic farmworker leader became probably the most famous and enduring image of the movement. The photo has been used repeatedly throughout […]

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