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By Sneed B Collard III
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Extra resources for Cesar Chavez: The Farm Workers' Best Friend
Great Depression A time in America during the 1930s when many businesses failed and many people lost their jobs. Hispanics People who have roots in Spain or the Spanish-speaking countries of America, including Mexico. irrigation Supplying land with water, usually through canals or pipes, to grow crops. justice Fair or right treatment. labor contractors Men who find workers to perform a particular job. They are usually paid by an employer such as a grower. They also demand money from workers. laborers People who do hard, physical work.
In 1965, Cesar and the NFWA took on California’s powerful grape growers. In 1965, workers at a company that grew roses went on strike for better wages. The NFWA was able to help them. The union got the workers better pay, although it did not get them a contract that protected their jobs. Later that year, the NFWA took on California’s powerful grape growers. Grape workers were paid as little as one dollar an hour. They worked long days under the brutal sun. They breathed in dangerous poisons used to protect the grapes from pests.
Cesar refused to use the “dirty” tactics that growers used. Instead, he and the union used only peaceful tools. They marched to tell people about their cause. To publicize their efforts, Cesar fasted, or stopped eating, for twenty-five days in a row. The union’s most effective tool, however, was something called a boycott. AMERICAN HEROES 26 To let people know about their cause, hundreds of farm workers marched from Delano to Sacramento, California. The boycott of California grapes finally forced growers to give farm workers better wages and working conditions.