Arturo S. Rodriguez, President of United Farm Workers
As president of the United Farm Workers, Arturo S. Rodriguez is continuing to build the union Cesar Chavez founded into a powerful voice for immigrant workers by increasing its membership and pushing historic legislation on immigration reform and worker rights.
Rodriguez is leading the UFW in bringing about meaningful change for farm workers by making it easier for them to organize and negotiate union contracts. He seeks to fundamentally transform American agriculture by creating jobs offering workers decent pay, comprehensive health coverage, retirement security, protections against toxic poisons, job security and guarantees against discrimination and sexual harassment. Under Rodriguez, the UFW is working to offer innovative alternative representation through benefits and services, and to extend innovative representation to workers temporarily brought to work in U.S. agriculture. His goal is also preserving America's food supply through a strong and viable agricultural industry.
Since the Texas native took over the helm of the UFW upon the passing of
its legendary founder in 1993, Rodriguez has increased union membership
with an aggressive organizing and negotiating campaign. Among recent
UFW victories under Rodriguez's leadership are agreements with one of
the nation's top five largest vegetable growers, the biggest strawberry
employer in the United States, the top U.S. rose producer, the country's
largest winery, the biggest dairy in the U.S. as well as winery workers
in Washington state.
Recent historic UFW legislative achievements include a
2011 law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown helping farm worker organize when
growers deny them the right to have a union; a 2002 California law
signed by then-Gov. Gray Davis letting farm workers call in neutral
arbitrators to hammer out union contracts when growers refuse to
negotiate agreements; a 2005 regulation the UFW convinced then-Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger to issue, the first state regulation in the nation to
help prevent farm and other outdoor workers from dying or becoming ill
because of extreme heat. Rodriguez negotiated with growers to fashion the agricultural provisions in the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate in June 2013; they would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented farm workers in this country.
The veteran farm labor organizer was first introduced to
Cesar Chavez through his parish priest in his hometown of San Antonio in
1966. He became active with the UFW's grape boycott as a student at St.
Mary's University in 1969. At the University of Michigan in 1971, where
he earned an M.A. degree in social work, Rodriguez organized support
for farm worker boycotts. He began serving full time with the UFW in
1973, when he first met Chavez, who became his mentor for 20 years.
Rodriguez has more than 35 years experience organizing farm workers,
negotiating UFW contracts and leading numerous farm worker boycott and
political drives across North America.
Rodriguez and his wife Sonia live near the UFW's headquarters at Keene, in California Tehachapi Mountains.