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An unflinching look at the legacy of Cesar Chavez

George Birch
Associated Press
Cesar Chavez, 1965

This story aired most recently in the May 1, 2023 episode of Crosscurrents.

The story of the United Farm Workers’ dwindling ranks is a lot bigger than the latest election at Gerawan Farming, where it was decertified. The union has been shrinking for decades. They’re not alone. Most unions have been shrinking since the ‘80s. But the details of the UFW’s rise and fall are not well known.

"I think the union never was a democratic institution from the beginning, but he was able to maintain the sort of fiction that it was democratic for a long time. And then that began to unravel."

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Miriam Pawel spent hundreds of hours interviewing former UFW members and wrote a book called "The Union of their Dreams: Power, Hope and Struggle in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement," as well as the very first biography of Cesar Chavez.