Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Dolores C. Huerta (born April 10, 1930) is the co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW)

Her parents divorced when she was three years old. Her mother, Alicia Chavez, raised Dolores, along with her two brothers, and two sisters, in the central San Joaquin Valley farmworker community of Stockton, California. Her mother was a businesswoman who owned a restaurant and a 70-room hotel that often put up farmworker families for free.

In 1955, Huerta co-founded the Sacramento chapter of the Community Service Organization, and in 1960 co-founded the Agricultural Workers Association. In 1962, she co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chávez, which would later become the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and still later, the UFW. In 1966, she negotiated a contract between the UFWOC and Schenley Wine Company, marking the first time that farmworkers were able to successfully collectively bargain with an agricultural enterprise.

Huerta directed the UFW’s national grape boycott, taking the plight of the farm workers to the consumers. The boycott resulted in the entire California table grape industry signing a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the United Farm Workers.

She has been highly politically active, lobbying in favor of (and against) numerous California and federal laws. The laws that she supported included:

A 1960 bill to permit people to take the California driver's examination in Spanish

1962 legislation repealing the Bracero Program

1963 legislation to extend Aid to Families with Dependent Children to California farmworkers

The 1973 Agricultural Labor Relations Act

As an advocate for farmworkers' rights, Huerta has been arrested twenty-two times for participating in non-violent civil disobedience activities and strikes. Huerta's organizing and lobbying efforts are often overshadowed by those of Cesar Chávez, who is revered by many (especially Chicanos) as the primary figure of the Chicano civil rights movement. She remains active in progressive causes, and serves on the boards of People For the American Way and Feminist Majority Foundation.

In September of 1988 in front of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, Huerta was severely beaten by San Francisco Police officers during a peaceful and lawful protest of the policies/platform of then-candidate for president George H.W. Bush. The baton-beating caused significant internal injuries to her torso, resulting in several broken ribs and necessitating the removal of her spleen in emergency surgery. The beating was caught on videotape and broadcast widely on local television news, including the clear ramming of the butt end of a baton into Huerta's torso by one of the helmeted officers. Later, Huerta won a large judgment against the SFPD and the City of San Francisco, the proceeds of which were used in benefit of farm workers. The assault is credited with starting yet another movement to change SFPD crowd-control policies, as well as the manner in which officer discipline is handled.

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