Cesar Chavez was one of the first influential individuals to spend his whole life advocating for rights in the workplace and helping to make sure that all working class families received the benefits that they should have. This is particularly true for individuals who worked on the farms as they weren’t receiving the fairest treatment and had extremely harsh working conditions. Here is a look at some of Cesar Chavez’s largest accomplishments.
1. The Creation of the National Farm Workers Association
In 1962 Cesar Chavez created the National Farm Workers Association that ended up joining with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to fight back against the California grape growing companies. After the two organizations had merged they went on to boycott the grape farmers stating that their workers deserved fairer wages and working conditions.
2. Implementing Non-Violent Protests
Another important achievement that Cesar Chavez had in terms of protesting the rights of migrant workers was the fact that he refused to employ any methods of protesting that were outside of peaceful. He only relied on marches, boycotts, and hunger strikes to get his point across. This seemed to be the best (and safest) option for all parties involved so that protestors weren’t tempted to escalate their purpose by becoming angry and intolerant. These methods of protesting gathered the attention of Jesse Jackson and Robert Kennedy, along with Bill Clinton who awarded his family with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.
3. Creating Union Contracts
With each of his protests Chavez wanted to make sure that their accomplishments and agreements were in writing so that the labor unions and the protestors would have legal paperwork to fall back on. Each time that they reached a point of agreement with employers, he would create a union contract that stated that workers would receive better compensation and safer working conditions. This undoubtedly occurred several times throughout his career as a civil rights leader.
4. The Rights in the Contracts
Cesar Chavez didn’t want to go above and beyond for the requirements he believed farm workers deserved. Instead, he focused on the necessities to ensure that they would be treated properly like any other type of employed professional. Some of the most renowned items he brought to the attention of employers included: clean drinking water, protective clothing for exposure to pesticides, rest periods, and hand washing stations. All of these essential items were known as the first health benefits that farm families and independent workers received while in the fields.