Cesar E. Chavez founded and led the first successful farm worker's union in U.S. history. In 1952, Cesar was laboring in apricot orchards outside San Jose when he met Fred Ross, an organizer for the community Service Organization, a barrio-based self-help group sponsored by Chicago-based Saul Alinksey's Industrial areas foundation. Within several months Cesar was a full-time organizer with CSO, coordinating voter registration drives, battling racial and economic discrimination against Chicano residents and organizing new CSO chapters. In 1962, after failing to convince the CSO to commit itself to farm workers organizing, he resigned his paid CSO job. He moved to Delano, California where he founded the first National Farm Worker's Association (NFWA). In September 1965, Cesar's NFWA, with 1200 member families, joined in AFL-CIO sponsored union in a strike against major Delano area table and wine grape growers.
Against great odds, Cesar led a successful five-year strike-boycott the rallied millions of supporters to the United Farm Workers. He forged a national support coalition of unions, church groups, students, minorities and consumers. The two unions merged in 1966 to form the UFW, and it became affiliated with the AFL-CIO. By 1970, the boycott convinced most grape growers to sign contract with UFW. That year to limit the UFW's success to the vineyards, growers in the vegetable industry signed "sweetheart" pacts with the Teamsters Union.
When the UFW's table grape agreements came up for renegotiation in 1973, growers signed with Teamsters, Prompting 10,000 farm workers in California's coastal valleys to walk out of the fields to protest. Cesar called for a nationwide boycott on grapes. Millions of Americans honored the boycott. In 1975, The UFW won most of the union elections in which it participated. By the 1980's farm workers numbered in the ten of thousands were working under UFW contracts They enjoyed higher pay, family health coverage, pension benefits and other contract protections. All thanks to a guy who goes by the name Cesar Chavez.