United Farm Workers

United Farm Workers - 1960s

During the early 1960s, the migrant farm workers still faced several injustices while working in the fields. Many of these Mexican workers worked under deplorable conditions such as not having water nor bathrooms available during the workday, no job security, low wages, and most harmful no benefits. These conditions plagued the farm worker and his family on a daily basis. Rarely did the workers receive the wages they deserved for their hard work. At this point in time, no organized union existed to assist the worker. The migrant farm workers, in turn, sought the leadership of a young farm worker by the name of César Chávez. Chávez decided that it was time to organize agricultural workers in the California area and demand comfortable wages and working conditions from their employers. Soon enough, the migrant farm workers of the Southwest and the rest of the country banned together to become active members of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). Had Chávez not had the support of the farm workers, then all of his efforts would have gone down in defeat.

In this time of organized unions and protests, the Mexican corridista took advantage of the issue at hand. It is evident in the corridos sung by the workers that César Chávez helped create a unity among the workers and their families. The workers protested against the rich companies and their unjust ways. This is best illustrated in the corrido: Corrido de la causa. The corrido begins with the llamada inicial which is the beckoning of ears to come listen to the story of the farm worker. In this introductory stanza, the migrant worker says he will explain why they were sent to jail and the reasons behind their protest. Throughout this corrido, the principles of the farm workers' cause is highlighted. The worker demands a better standard of living for him and his family. In the following stanzas, the personaje recalls the date of the protest and the unjust laws the companies constantly throw at them. Regardless of the consequences the farm worker faces, he still demands an improved life for his family before giving in to the unjust employer. At the head of this struggle is César Chávez. Chávez leads his fellow farm worker into the protest with the black and red flag of freedom. This (UFW) flag stands as a symbol of hope for the children of the United Farm Workers. Through this struggle, the personaje will either protest by striking or boycotting. The migrant worker is willing to die in his struggle for a decent workplace.

Cathy A. Vasquez
UT History student

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