The United Farm Workers and the Delano Grape Strike

On September 8, 1965, Filipino farm workers organized as the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) decided to strike against grape growers in Delano, California, to protest years of poor pay and working conditions. The Delano Grape Strike grew from a long history of labor organizing and protest by Filipino workers in agriculture and canning on the West Coast. AWOC leaders asked the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), a mostly Latino farm workers union led by Cesar Chavez, to join their strike. The Delano Grape Strike was the first major collaboration between Filipino and Mexican workers, who had traditionally been recruited to work during the other group’s protest actions. In August 1966, the two organizations merged to form the United Farm Workers (UFW), a union committed to nonviolent protest that sought to organize migrant farm laborers to improve their wages, education, housing, and legal protections.

The protest that began in the fields in Delano grew into a broader boycott that asked for help from consumers in urban areas. By 1970, the UFW grape boycott was a success. Table grape growers signed their first union contracts, granting workers better pay, benefits, and protections. In the decades that followed, Chavez and the UFW continued to use nonviolent strikes, boycotts, marches, and fasts to help farm workers stand up for their rights and gather support from ordinary Americans to aid them in their efforts. This primary source set uses documents, photographs, and promotional materials to explore the events of the Delano Grape Strike and the formation of the United Farm Workers.