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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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United Farm Workers, Cesar Chavez, Labor History, Agricultural History, Civil Rights Movement


Since the system of industrial agriculture first emerged in mid-nineteenth century California, farm workers have been among the lowest-paid and ill treated workers in America’s labor force. Racism, nativism, and the entrenched political power of large-scale growers have combined to ensure that the predominantly non-white, largely foreign-born farm labor force has had little voice in the workplace. The United Farm Worker movement of the 1960s and the 1970s was the largest and most successful effort to alter the dynamics of farm worker power in the United States, giving farm workers greater autonomy in the workplace and resulting in concrete gains in terms of wages and working conditions. The UFW’s efforts culminated in the 1975 passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA), the nation’s first ever law to guarantee farm workers the right to collectively bargain and form unions.

But with the passage of the ALRA, the dynamics of power in farm labor relations changed once again; the future of the union would depend upon its ability to adapt to these new realities.


First Advisor

Jennifer Fronc

Second Advisor

Rick Lopez