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October 2002, Volume 8, Number 4

UFW: 40 Year Anniversary

The UFW held its 16th Constitutional Convention in Fresno in September 2002, marking the fortieth anniversary of its founding in 1962 in the city of Delano, which paid $100,000 to name its new high school for Cesar Chavez in July 2002, becoming the first US comprehensive high school named for Chavez. Grape grower Walter "Bud" Gamboni sold 55 acres of land on the east end of the city for the new school, but with the condition that the board pay $100,000 in damages if it gave the school any name that causes "extreme embarrassment and emotional stress." Latinos are 70 percent of Delano's 38,800 residents; Delano has a park named for Chavez.

Arturo S. Rodriguez, Chavez's son-in-law who became the UFW's president in 1993, reported that the UFW won 21 union elections and signed 25 new or first-time contracts since he took over. The UFW's radio network, which began with KUFW in Visalia in 1983, in 2002 had operations in Bakersfield, Fresno and Salinas, two stations in Arizona and another in Washington. The UFW's Juan De La Cruz Farm Workers Pension Plan, established in the early 1970s, has 9,700 participants and assets of $100 million.

Many of the most ardent UFW supporters are the children and grandchildren of farm workers. Addressing the UFW convention, Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante said "The footprints left on the road along Highway 99, 36 years ago, left a path that others have followed to be here today."

The US Postal Service announced a new Cesar Chavez stamp, to be issued in April 2003. The new stamp is one of 20 to 25 commemorative stamps issued each year to honor "events and themes of widespread national appeal and significance." California and four other states have established official holidays honoring Chavez.

The UFW reportedly received a $200,000 grant in 2002 from the Kellogg Foundation for its Fair Trade Apple Campaign, aimed at raising apple prices and pickers' wages.

Elections. Workers at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in Windsor voted 62-37 to be represented by the UFW in March 2002. Sonoma-Cutrer insisted that winery workers vote as well as vineyard workers, since they sometimes work in the vineyards. The 28 winery workers voted, and their ballots were challenged. In July 2002, the winery dropped its insistence on including winery workers in the bargaining unit, and the UFW was certified to represent Sonoma-Cutrer workers. Sergio Guzman, UFW regional manager in Santa Rosa, said the UFW has about 1,100 members in Sonoma and Napa counties, including 350 workers at Gallo-Sonoma in Healdsburg and 50 workers at Balletto Ranch in Santa Rosa.

On May 24, 2002, workers at the Saralee's Vineyard in the Russian River Valley voted 47-10 to be represented by the UFW. Saralee's Vineyard said that newly hired workers earned $7.50 an hour, and could earn as much as $10.50, with 100 percent employer-paid medical insurance, vacation and a leave of absence program.

UFCW. The Salinas-based United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1096 won an election 63-2 at Hess Collection Winery in Napa in March 1999 to represent vineyard workers. UFCW Local 1096 president Pete Maturino said that negotiations were proceeding very slowly.

UFCW Local 186D represents winery workers at the Charles Krug Winery, the oldest winery in Napa, founded in 1861. The UFCW's contract with Krug, the only Napa winery with a union contract, expired on March 31, 2001. On July 3, 2001, Krug locked out its UFCW employees, and on February 16, 2002, workers approved a new contract 16-12.

Marcello Salcido, who was president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 126, from 1980 until 1996, died in July 2002.

Tim Tesconi, "UFW Vote At Sonoma-Cutrer Certified," Santa Rosa Press Democrat, July 23, 2002.

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