Faith and justice: Bishops note UFW’s 50th anniversary
June 6th, 2012
The Catholic bishops of California commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Farm Workers and recalled union founder Cesar Chavez’s faith and vision of justice.
“We offer our congratulations on the 50th anniversary of the 1962 founding of the United Farm Workers by Cesar Chavez, who attributed his passion for improving conditions for migrant workers to the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church,” the California Catholic Conference said in a statement May 22. “Today, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers are the embodiment of Catholic teachings on the dignity of work and the rights of workers.”
In the early part of the 20th century, farmworkers – including young children – were subjected to long hours, terrible working conditions and low wages.
“In the 1960s and ‘70s, Chavez and his associate, Dolores Huerta – as well as many other courageous leaders—who together founded the United Farm Workers, brought the nation’s attention to the situation of California’s migrant workers,” the statement said. “As a result, in 1975, the union won passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which gave collective bargaining rights to farmworkers and a guarantee of freedom from interference or coercion by employers.”
The legislation also established the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board to oversee elections and adjudicate disputes.
“Religious faith has long compelled Americans to seek the path of freedom,” the statement continued. “Time and again, faith has helped this nation move closer to the founding vision of liberty and justice for all. Cesar Chavez’s faith, his efforts in working for farmworkers, the teachings of the Catholic Church and the goodwill of all Californians have contributed to this remarkable occasion.
“Today, we celebrate with the United Farm Workers their 50 years of promoting liberty and justice in our state.”
From June 8, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.