Farm Workers in Washington State History Project

Timeline: Farm Worker Organizing in Washington State

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By Oscar Rosales Castañeda and Maria Quintana

Washington State
1870- 1880 Hops becomes the Puget Sound region's first major cash crop.    

1886 Northern Pacific Railroad connects Washington to the rest of the U.S.    

1890 Big farming operations spread across Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon    

1900-1919 1902: U.S. reclamation service begins irrigation projects in Washington's Yakima, Wenatchee, and Okanogan Valleys.   1903: More than one 1200 Japanese and Mexican laborers organize the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association (JMLA) in Oxnard, CA. The event marks the formation of the first farm worker union of its kind in the United States.
      June 27, 1905: The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is founded in Chicago by a group of socialists and dissident union organizers wishing to establish an alternative to the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
  1910: IWW or “Wobbly” membership extended to Eastern Washington, from Spokane, Walla Walla, and the Palouse Region to Yakima   November 1910: Insurgents in Mexico take up arms against Gen. Porfirio Diaz. The Mexican Revolution and subsequent civil war is one of the bloodiest wars in North American history, with over 1 million casualties, and a mass migration of approximately ten percent of the Mexican population to the U.S.
  1916: farm worker campaign to establish the Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO) in the Yakima Valley. With several hundred Wobblies in the region, AWO leadership sends job delegates to Central Washington to organize agricultural workers.   1912: IWW members join ‘Magonistas’ in armed struggle in Baja California, briefly proclaiming the “Baja Commune.” U.S. troops then invade Mexico and aid pro-government elements in crushing the rebellion.
      1913: Wheatland Riot led by IWW in hop fields of northern California
  Sept. 25 1916: 46 members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) are jailed for attempting to organize apple pickers in Yakima.   1915: the Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO-IWW), is created in Kansas City, Missouri.
  March 1917: State legislature passes Criminal Syndicalism Act, making IWW advocacy illegal.   June 1917: Congress passes the Espionage Act, making hampering wartime industrial production, military operations, and recruitment in the armed forces illegal.
  July 9, 1917: Federal troops raid the IWW Hall in Yakima, arresting twenty-four ‘Wobblies’ and confiscating literature found at the hall.   1918: U.S. Congress enacts the Sedition Act, makng it illegal to express ‘any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language’ concerning the United States government, the Constitution, the flag, or any armed services uniform.
  January 29, 1918: Secret Service agents, federal officials, and local police raid an ‘underground’ IWW hall in Yakima.    

1930-1939 Aug. 24 1933: 100 strikers picketing in Yakima clash with 250 armed farmers in what would be commonly referred to as the ‘"Battle at Congdon Orchards.’" While tensions between workers and farmers continued, all public meetings of workers were outlawed within the city.   1929-1937: Approximately 500,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans are repatriated to Mexico by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). This largely forced migration included many U.S. Citizens who were ‘encouraged’ to voluntarily leave the U.S.

1940-1949     Aug. 4, 1942: The governments of the United States and Mexico initiate the ‘Bracero Program’ to address the lack of farm labor in the U.S. during WWII. The agreement brings Mexican Nationals to the United States to do agricultural work. The program remained until it was removed in 1964.
  Oct. 5, 1942: Mexican nationals arrive in the Yakima Valley under the Bracero Program. The program, existing at the national level from 1942 to 1964, lasted only until 1947 in the Pacific Northwest.   1945: Mexican ‘Braceros’ and transient workers from California refuse to pick potatoes in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The work stoppage is a result of dispute over low established wages.
  Spring 1945: Mexican ‘Braceros’ strike over low wages and long hours in Walla Walla, WA.   June 17, 1946: Four hundred Mexican ‘Braceros’ from three labor camps near Nampa, Idaho, go on strike. Over six hundred additional workers from Marsing, Franklin, Upper Deer Flat and the Amalgamated Sugar Company camps soon joined in.
      Oct. 1, 1947: farmworkers associated with the National Farm Labor Union (NFLU) commence a strike against the giant DiGiorgio Corporation in California. Over 1000 pickets left the job, along with over 130 braceros who halted work in solidarity with the strikers.

1950-1959     1950: Ernesto Galarza leads a strike of farmworkers in the tomato fields in Tracy, California. Galarza, who had previously resigned from the Pan-American Union (a group in Washington D.C. formed by the Latin American Republics which sought to promote peace and understanding) in protest over the group’s acquiescence in the exploitation of Latin American workers by U.S. interests.
      1951: Galarza helps lead a strike of cantaloupe pickers in California’s Imperial Valley
      1954: ‘Operation Wetback’ is initiated by the INS under the supervision of Gen. Joseph Swing. Swing coordinates the border patrol, state and local officials as well as police in an operation that captures over one million people, many of them U.S. citizens. Though intended to return ‘illegal aliens’ to their place of origin, tactics used included massive police operations in swarming the barrios in the southwestern states in which all ‘Mexican-looking’ people were detained . Fearing potential violence resulting from the increased militarized police presence, many ‘voluntarily’ repatriated. Opponents of the operation on both sides of the border condemned the ‘police-state’ methods used by agents, leading the program to be abandoned.

1960-1964     1962: the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) is formalized at a convention in Fresno, California. Cesar Chavez is elected director and Dolores Huerta, Julio Hernandez and Gilberto Padilla are elected vice-presidents.
      1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson declares the 'War on Poverty' and proposes the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which lays the ground for projects through the Office of Economic Opportunity.
      1964: the FWA becomes the National Farm Workers Association. By this time, the organization has over 1000 member families in seven counties, providing enough funding to make the group self-sufficient.
      Dec. 1964: the underground farm worker newspaper, “El Malcriado” makes its debut. Originally published in Spanish, the paper’s editorials called for living wages, lambasted indignities on the job, and took on growers for complaining about losing the Mexican braceros.

1965 1965: The Yakima Valley Council for Community Action (YVCCA) is organized to coordinate the War on Poverty efforts in the Valley.   1965: the FBI starts surveillance of the farm workers’ movement upon the invitation of irate townsfolk in Delano. With the farm workers initially unaware of this activity, the FBI investigates Cesar Chavez’s background and opens a file entitled, “COMINFIL: Communist Infiltration of the National Farm Workers Association.”
      1965: Luis Valdez founds ‘El Teatro Campesino’ in Delano, CA. The activist theatre group would produce skits while workers were on strike as a way of informing people of their rights in the workplace. The group would inspire the formation of other activist theatre collectives, including ‘El Teatro del Piojo’ in Washington State.
      Sept. 8, 1965: the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) led by Larry Itliong, initiates a grape strike in Delano, CA.
      Sept. 16, 1965: The National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) , led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, join a strike initiated by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) in Delano, CA. This action would be an attempt to unionize workers in Delano and would spawn a National Table Grape Boycott.
      Late Nov.-Dec. 1965: The United Farm Workers Organizing Committee initiates a national table grape boycott.
      Dec. 1965: the farmworker strike earns the support of Walter Reuther, head of the United Auto Workers Union. Reuther marches through Delano at the head of a cheering column of strikers, alongside Chavez, Itliong and journalists from throughout the country.

1966 1966: Two students from Yakima Valley College, Tomas Villanueva and Guadalupe Gamboa travel to California to  meet Cesar Chavez. The meeting serves to spawn organizational efforts to unionize farm workers in Central Washington.   1966: The NFWA and the AWOC merge to become the United Farm Workers and soon affiliate with the AFL-CIO. Striking workers with the DiGiorgio Fruit Corp. elect the UFW to represent them.
      1966: two dozen NFWA strikers and staff members are dispatched to thirteen major cities across the country.
      Mar. 17-Apr. 11, 1966: Cesar Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association march from Delano to the California state Capitol in Sacramento.

1967 1967: The Cursillo Movement within the Catholic Church emerges in the Yakima Valley. The purpose is to engage in social action and encourage participation in church life.   1967: The Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) is formed on college campuses in Texas after the first chapter is born at St. Mary's College in San Antonio.
  1967: Tomas Villanueva co-founds the United Farm worker Co-operative in Toppenish Washington. The Co-op would serve as a place for organizing and as a cultural center. The UFW Co-op is credited as being the first Activist Chicano organization in the State   1967: Farm Workers in the state of Ohio form the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) to address the question of workers rights in the agricultural fields in the Midwest. FLOC officially organized itself as a union in 1979 and subsequently strike at Campbell Soup Company’s tomato operations in northwestern Ohio.
  1967: The Mexican American Federation is organized in Yakima, Washington, to advocate for community development and political empowerment in the Yakima Valley.   Mar. 13, 1967: 250 students representing seven Los Angeles colleges and universities meet to form the United Mexican American Students (UMAS).
  Oct. 1967: The United Farm Workers picket Associated Grocers in Seattle   Dec., 1967: David Sanchez takes control of the Young Citizens for Community Action and restructures it into the Young Chicanos for Community Action. The group, which was often harassed by the L.A. County Sheriffs, takes a more militant stance against discrimination and police brutality, evolving into the Brown Berets by early 1968. The Brown Berets would become one of the largest non-student organizations in the country, having chapters as far north as Seattle, Washington, Eugene, Oregon, Denver, Colorado, Detroit, Michigan and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  1967: The Progressive League of United Mexican Americans (PLUMA) is formed in Washington States’s North Central Region. The organization develops chapters in Moses Lake, Othello, Quincy, and Warden.    

1968 1968: La Sociedad Mutualista is founded in Granger, Washington. The group focuses on self-help for its members and sponsorship of social and cultural events.    Feb. 15, 1968: Response to violent repression on Farm workers leads Cesar Chavez to begin a 25-day fast to keep the farm worker movement non-violent.
  1968: Yakima County Commissioners take control of the YVCCA, effectively neutralizing any potential for the creation of any real changes in the economic situation of Chicanos in the Yakima Valley through the use of this program.    
  Mar., 1968: On request of the United Farm Workers, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington goes to the Yakima Valley to help organize a legal assistance program. The report that emerges after the end of the project underlines the societal conditions present that maintained Chicanos in a state of subjugation.   Mar. 10-11, 1968: Cesar Chavez breaks his fast at a mass at a park in Delano. 
  May 20, 1968: The UW Black Student Union occupies the administration building, demanding the implementation of recruitment programming and the establishment of black studies courses. As a result, the UW BSU helps recruit students of color from throughout the state, including the Yakima Valley.    
  Summer, 1968: The BSU at the UW travels to the Yakima Valley and recruits the first major group of Chicanos to the University of Washington.    
  Oct. 1, 1968: Chicano students at the University of Washington found a chapter of the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) which is modeled after the UMAS at the University of Southern California. The UW UMAS Chapter was the first in the Pacific Northwest.    
  1968-69: The Brown Berets, a more militant group is formed simultaneously with the student organizations, creating two chapters, one in Yakima and the other at the University of Washington in Seattle.   1968: Soledad Alatorre and Bert Corona set up the Center for Autonomous Social Action (CASA). The group is one of the first to spearhead a move toward organizing both legal and undocumented workers under the banner of 'sin fronteras' or 'without borders.' 

1969 1969: Active Mexicano is established in Seattle. The organization works toward providing individuals social services including job placement and legal assistance.    1969: Chicano Artists in Sacramento, CA, form the ‘Rebel Chicano Art Front’ as a means of using visual art in educating people on the goals of the Chicano Movement, to provide a space for the creation of culturally-relevant education, as well as to provide support for the United Farm Workers Union in their struggle in the agricultural fields. As a play on words, the art collective changes its name to the ‘Royal Chicano Air Force,’ as a reference to the ‘RCAF’ acronym they shared with the ‘Royal Canadian Air Force.’ Throughout its existence, the group would have great reach throughout the west coast, producing murals as far south as San Diego’s Chicano Park and as far north as Seattle’s El Centro de La Raza.
  1969: "La Escuelita" is founded in Granger through the efforts of students and UW faculty.    
  1969: UW UMAS organizes a Chicano student conference in Toppenish. The ultimate goal is to go into the community and establish student organizations at the high school level.   Mar. 27-31 1969: The first National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference is sponsored by Crusade for Justice in Denver, CO.
  1969: The Granger School Board refuses to allow use of a gym for a presentation by Cesar Chavez.   Apr. 1969: A three day conference is organized at Santa Barbara by the Chicano Coordinating Council of Higher Education to create a plan for curricular changes and provide service to Chicano students. The conference also yields the formation of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), which the various participating organizations change their name to.
  Jan. 29, 1969: About 100 people begin picketing the Husky Union Building (HUB) at the University of Washington. The goal is to convince the university to stop selling non-union grapes. The grape boycott committee that emerges is chaired by UMAS and supported by the BSU, the ASUW Board of Control, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and the Young Socialist Alliances (YSA), among others.   May 13, 1969: The Brown Berets begin publication of a monthly paper called 'La Causa' which soon becomes a medium for recruitment. Following the lead of the Black Panthers, they also institute programming that deals with food, housing, unemployment, and education within the barrios.
  Feb., 1969: Following the lead of UW UMAS, Chicano students organize themselves to form a chapter of the Mexican American Student Association (MASA) at Yakima Valley College.     
  Feb. 17, 1969: The UW Grape Boycott Committee is victorious as the HUB officially halts the sale of grapes. The boycott makes the University of Washington the first campus in the United States to remove grapes entirely from its eating facilities.     
  Feb. 24, 1969: Over 350 students force out a United Fruit Company representative from Loew Hall in an action organized by UMAS and SDS on the UW Campus.    
  1969: The first MASA chapter is formed by Chicano students at Washington State University.    
  April 1969: UMAS and the University Grape Boycott Committee usher in the next phase against the sale of California table grapes by organizing a petition-signing campaign directed against Safeway stores selling non-union grapes.    
  May 5, 1969: UW UMAS submits a proposal to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences for the creation of a Chicano Educational Development Project which would be a precursor to El Centro De Estudios Chicanos at UW    
  Fall, 1969: UW UMAS changes its name to Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.    

1970 Spring 1970: El Teatro del Piojo is formed at the University of Washington. This group is modeled after El Teatro Campesino in California and is the first activist theatre group of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.    Apr. 1970: La Raza Unida Party emerges out of Texas and dominates the local elections in Crystal City, TX.
  1970: The Seattle and Yakima Brown Beret Chapters attract over 200 members.   Summer 1970: In an effort to keep the UFW out of the lettuce fields, most growers in the Salinas Valley in California sign ‘sweetheart’ deals with the Teamsters Union. The action results in some 10,000 Central Coast farm workers walking out on strike. Chavez soon calls a National non-union Lettuce Boycott.
  1970: The Farm Workers Family Health Center is founded in Toppenish through the acquisition of federal funding by the UFW Co-op.     
  1970: The UFW Co-op organizes an official union organizing committee in response to  wildcat strikes in the hop fields of Central Washington. Despite the efforts, the union remains unrecognized until it becomes the United Farm Workers of Washington State   July 29, 1970: The National Grape Boycott organized by the UFWOC yields contracts with most California growers.
  1970: The UW Brown Berets mobilize to garner support throughout the state for their 'Food for Peace' campaign which distributes food, clothing and money to needy families in the Yakima Valley. They also attempt to develop a legal defense fund on behalf of activists.   Aug. 29, 1970: The third Moratorium Protest against the Viet-Nam War takes place in Laguna Park in L.A., attracting over 10,000-30,000 people. Police breakup the peaceful gathering and use force against the demonstrators. Ruben Salazar, a writer for the L.A. Times is killed when he is hit in the head by a tear-gas canister shot by the L.A.P.D.
  1968-70: Brown Berets in the Yakima Valley organized marches to protest the racist and insensitive practices of staff at the welfare office in Yakima.    
  1970: 'El Año del Mexicano' is formed through several organizations interested in the political development of the Chicano Community.     
  1970: Women form 'Chicanas de Aztlan' at WSU.    
  1970: The University of Washington implements a Chicano Studies Program.    
  1970: A subgroup within MEChA, 'Las Chicanas' forms at UW     
  1970: Hop Strikes spread throughout the Yakima Valley    
  1970: The Brown Beret Chapter in the in the Yakima Valley becomes inactive after a key leader loses credibility in the Chicano Community. Despite severing ties to the former leader, the group loses credibility because of past association and disbands.    

1971 1971: YVCC MASA changes its name to MEChA   1971: The FBI Counter Intelligence Program infiltrates and provokes Chicano Organizations. COINTELPRO is unveiled as files are retreived from an FBI office. 
  1971: The 'Aztlan' mural is painted at the University of Washington's Ethnic Cultural Center complex by UW Chicano art student, Emilio Aguayo. Upon completion, it is one of the first murals to emerge out of the Chicano Muralist Movement in the Pacific Northwest    
  Nov. 1971: YVCC Approves first Chicano Studies courses.    

1972 1972: The Ethnic Cultural Center and Theatre opens its doors at the University of Washington. When it opens, the ECC/T is the first center of its kind in the nation, making it the first building owned by a university to serve primarily people of color and one of the first to be a hub for cross-cultural exchange.    
  1972: The Brown Berets help coordinate La Raza Unida Party efforts in the Yakima Valley and in Seattle.    
  Apr. 28-30, 1972: Students organize the first statewide MEChA Conference in Washington at Yakima Valley College. The outcome of the conference then results in the creation of a statewide board authorized to inform all MEChA Chapters in Washington about activity at the state level.    
  May 2, 1972: Over 40 UW MEChA Members attend a reception by the Rainier Brewing company and read a statement declaring a boycott or Rainier Beer products and its subsidiaries for labor violations.    
  Oct. 11, 1972: El Centro de La Raza is founded in Seattle by activists and Beacon Hill community members who occupy an abandoned school. The participants refuse to leave the building until the Seattle School District leases them the space for the creation of a community center.   Sep. 1-4, 1972: La Raza Unida Party holds its national convention. Gutierrez beats Gonzalez for the national chair in a  campaign that leads to the division of LRUP into 2 camps
  Fall, 1972: UW Art student, Daniel DeSiga begins production of his mural, 'Explosion of Chicano Creativity' at the Old Beacon Hill School as students and community members occupy the building. Though the mural's first phase ends, the final product would not be completed until DeSiga returns and restores the mural in 1997. The mural is perhaps the first of its kind as it makes direct refference to the plight of farmworkers in Central Washington through use of its imagery depicting the geography of the region.    

1973 January 1973: Chicanos in the Yakima Valley initiate a new phase in the “Boycott Safeway” campaign that had seen sporadic action since 1969.   1973: CASA's ideology takes a turn farther toward the left in the early 1970's, making it the first Marxist-Leninist Organization based inside the Chicano Community. 
  Jan. 23, 1973: African American and Chicano students occupy a building and present a list of demands to Yakima Valley College. Demands include the establishment of an Ethnic Studies program and the hiring of Black and Chicano counselors.   Sep 11, 1973: A CIA-backed coup succeeds in overthrowing the democratically elected Marxist government in Chile. This marks the start of U.S.-backed Gen. Augusto Pinochet's 17 year stint as the head of Chile, which is notoriously known for massive human rights violations.

1974     Jun 1974: A group of students from Los Angeles and Orange County form El Comite Estudiantil del Pueblo. The group, made up primarily of Chicano Marxists, seeks "anti-imperialist solidarity with national and international student struggles, university reform, self-determination against the 'imperial system,' and student-worker unity." The group later merges with CASA.
      1974: Farah signs a contract with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union of America, ending a nationwide boycott which lasted two years. By 1976, Farah moves its operations south of the border.

1975 1975: The Concilio for the Spanish Speaking is established in Seattle. The purpose is in uniting organizations and groups that serve Spanish speaking communities and are organized for charitable, health and welfare purposes.     
  January, 1975: Proyecto Saber is implemented within the Seattle School District. The program adds cultural and curriculum aspects that were not found in the schools and aids with the desegregation efforts and in opening lines of communication between the Chicano/Latino Community and Seattle Schools.   1975: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is extended to 'Hispanic Americans'
  September 1975: “Northwest Chicano Consilio” contacts FM radio stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho with the intent of creating a Tri-state Subsidiary Communications Authority. They construct a small radio studio in Lynden, Washington and design informational campaigns by taping Spanish-language public service announcements, public affairs programs, and educational services for migrants and seasonal agricultural workers.    

1977 1977: A Chicano group is established at Eastern Washington University. It later aligns itself with other MEChA chapters and changes its name in 1978.   1977: Jose Angel Gutierrez and the Raza Unida Party hold a conference in San Antonio attracting over 2000 activists. The gathering is in response to Jimmy Carter's immigration reform legislation which ignores labor and human rights violations at the hands of employers and the INS.
  1977: After much controversy, a mural painted by world renowned Irish Mexican Muralist, Pablo O’Higgins, is installed in the second floor of Kane Hall at the University of Washington, upon suggestion of El Centro de La Raza and UW MEChA. Originally painted in 1945 by O’Higgins for the Union Hall of the Shipscalers, Dry-dock and Miscellaneous Boatyard Workers Union, Local 541 in Seattle, the painting is removed after the Union Hall is razed in 1955 and would remain in storage at the UW until its restoration two decades later.    

1978-1979 1978: SEA MAR Community Health Center is founded by Chicano community leaders and health activists in the Southpark neighborhood south of downtown Seattle.   Jun 28, 1978: The Supreme Court upholds the decision in favor of Bakke v. the UC Board of Regents by a vote of 5-4.
  1978: Consejo a private, not for profit organization, is founded in Seattle to provide culturally competent mental health and family support services that target the Chicano/Latino community in Western Washington.    
  October 29, 1979: RADIO KDNA is established as a Spanish language public radio station in Granger. The station works to provide music, information, and other radio based initiatives and has long been recognized nationally for its progressive programming.     

1980-1984 1980s: In response to INS raids in the Yakima Valley, the staff of Radio KDNA, out of its concern for the well-being of farm workers and their families, devises a subtle yet effective way of alerting workers of INS roundups. This is done by airing a song about ‘la migra’ upon hearing of INS presence and dedicating it to the town that was being raided.   1980: The Reagan Administration comes to power, accelerating the dismantling of most social programs initiated in the 1960's.
      1980's: US. Latin American Policy under the Reagan administration intensifies "low intensity" proxy warfare against leftist movements in Latin America. The civil wars that result from U.S. backing of counter-insurgency militaries lead to an increased migration of Central American political refugees to the United States.
  1983: El Centro de La Raza sends a delegation and a crew from KING-TV on a fact-finding mission to Nicaragua. The Sandinista government hosts the delegation for a week as the group talks to people in the towns affected by attacks by counterrevolutionary groups.    

1985-1986     1985: About eighty farm workers form ‘Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste’ (PCUN) or Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United, establishing its headquarters in the city of Woodburn in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the agricultural hub of the state. The organization would soon become the main entity organizing around farm workers’ rights in Oregon with over 5000 members, ninety-eight percent of which were of Mexican or Central American descent.
  Apr. 1986: Over 2000 people participate in a march for Farmworker rights in Yakima. The event, which was led by Cesar Chavez, President of the United Farmworkers of America AFL-CIO, parted from Yakima, with the march concluding in Granger in the Lower Yakima Valley.   1986: The UFW initiates a campaign called the ‘Wrath of Grapes’ to draw attention to the use of dangerous pesticides on farms and their affect on the health of farm workers and their children.
  Sep. 21 1986: The United Farmworkers of Washington State are officially organized as an independent union, with Tomas Villanueva as organizational leader.    

1987-1988 February 10, 1987: The first strike of the Washington State UFW occurs at Pyramid Orchards in the Yakima Valley. Overwhelming support for the strike makes it a success.    
  1987: Farmworkers picket and subsequently occupy the Office of Employment and Security in Yakima, in an attempt to set up a meeting with Washington Governor, Booth Gardner.    
  1987: WA State UFW campaign against Chateau Saint Michelle winery commences with the leadership assistance of Rosalinda Guillen.   July 1988: Cesar Chavez begins the longest of his public fasts, lasting thirty-six days. The fast was intended to publicize the effects of poisonous chemical pesticides on the health of children and farm workers who were often exposed to these toxins.

1993     April 23, 1993: Cesar Chavez dies in San Luis, Arizona while organizing against a multi-million lawsuit filed by a large grower against the union. Over 40,000 mourners marched behind Chavez’s casket during the funeral service held in Delano, CA.

1994     Jan 1, 1994: On the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, is to take effect, an indigenous, Libertarian-Marxist revolutionary organization known as the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional, or "EZLN"), based out of the State of Chiapas in Mexico, takes up arms and declares war against the Mexican Government, siezing towns and municipalities in Chiapas. Though confronted by a massive Mexican military, the group uses new technology to shift the terrain of struggle from the military battlefield, to the hearts and minds of people all over the world by releasing the "First declaration of the Lacandon Jungle," making what the New York Times called the "first post-modern revolution in the world." The EZLN uprising and subsequent work was articulated as a call to consciousness, with indigenous Mexicans declaring "ya basta" as a way to adress five centuries of opression and denial of basic human rights.
      April 14-17, 1994: MEChA Chapters from throughout the U.S. converge for the first time as a national autonomous organization at Arizona State University. The National MEChA Coordinating Council (NMCC) would be organized in 1997 as a council to facillitate communication amongst the various chapters. The organization would grow to become one of the largest student-led youth organizations in the country with chapters from Seattle to San Diego, Portland to New York City (approximately 400 chapters nationwide).
  1994: The United Farmworkers of Washington State affilliate with the UFW of America and officially join the AFL-CIO.   Aug. 8, 1994: President Clinton presents the ‘Medal of Freedom’ posthumously to Cesar Chavez in a ceremony attended by his wife, Helen, who accepts the honor in his memory.
      Oct 1, 1994: Operation Gatekeeper is launched under the Clinton Administration as a border enforcement operation along the U.S.-Mexico border entrance at Tijuana-San Diego, the busiest entry point in the world. The increased militarized presence forces forces many to venture out to the desert. The operation itself doesn't decrease migration north and leads to nearly 2000 deaths between 1998-2004.

1995 Dec. 5, 1995: The UFW secures an agreement and signs a contract to unionize the workers at the Chataeu Ste. Michelle Winery in the Yakima Valley, the first such victory in farmworker organizing in Washington State.    

1997 May, 1997: Washington State Governor, Gary Locke, vetoes a bill that is passed by the state legislature that would have provided state sanctioning of substandard housing for farm workers. The veto, pushed by various Latino groups was considered ‘courageous,’ while disapproval from State Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-Renton) as well as the state’s growers whom were backed by a strong agribusiness interest was voiced throughout the process. According to a Seattle Times article, the agribusiness lobby contended that “housing without electricity, running water, toilet facilities, or insulation ‘was better than nothing.’”    
  Sept. 1, 1997: More than 150 migrant workers strike against Auvil Fruit Co. in Vantage, WA to protest unfair working conditions as well as the flawed bonus-pay system. As time progresses, the workers also issue a press release to complain about the role Washington State Patrol and Kittitas County Sheriff officials’ played in escorting strike breakers onto the work site, and to draw attention to intimidation tactics used by law enforcement officials. The workers note that there were twenty-six law enforcement vehicles and that officers displayed rifles and shotguns at peaceful protesters. The allegations eventually lead to an investigation initiated by the head of the Washington State Patrol, into the aforementioned set of events that took place .    

1998 May 27, 1998: A Coalition of five Mexican unions, with the aid of the Washington D.C.-based International Labor Rights Fund, files a complaint in Mexico City against the Washington State Apple Industry, alleging that the industry had failed to protect the right of workers to organize, in addition to failing to protect the health and safety of laborers, leaving them at risk of exposure to pesticides and other carcinogenic chemicals    
  May 30, 1998: The UFW and Teamsters union picket outside an historic hearing on the Food Quality Protection Act held at the Yakima Convention Center. The picketers carried signs urging the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce laws in place to safeguard farm workers’ health. The action also comes after the workers’ support of a complaint filed May 27th against Washington’s apple industry by a coalition of five Mexican unions under a side provision within the NAFTA agreement.    

1999 November 1999: The UFW participates in the World Trade Organization (WTO) demonstrations in Seattle. The UFW’s new focus on global justice for workers was essential during the union’s participation in the WTO demonstrations.    
  December 1999: Comite Pro-Amnistia General Y Justicia Social (most commonly refered to as "El Comite") is organized as a grassroots coalition in Seattle to draw attention to the plight of immigrant laborers in Western Washington. The group comes together immediately following the massive protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) that occurred in Seattle in late November 1999. Initial organizers include members of CASA Latina, LELO (Legacy of Equality, Leadership, and Organizing), the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the Carpenters' Union. One of the organizers' key considerations is lack of representation within the WTO protests of Latinos, Chicanos, and the immigrant community in general.    

2000 April 2000: El Comite is formalized as an official organization. The group will further ally itself with faith-based organizations, organized labor, and civil rights groups to give a marginalized Latino immigrant community a voice in organizing for social justice.    
  May 1, 2000: El Comite holds its first "May Day March" in Bellevue, WA. The event draws over 700 participants. This new tradition would go largely unnoticed in larger discourse until the immigrant rights movement brings the event to a larger audience.    
  Sep. 2000: Fifty Apple pickers, aided by the UFW win a strike against MarJon orchards near Sunnyside. Despite a job contractor’s attempt at breaking the strike by bringing an additional fourteen workers from a separate ranch, the failure to meet a certain predetermined production amount forces the contractor to give in to workers’ demands.    
  Sep. 2000: Workers frustrated over low wages, discrimination and poor working conditions at Mid-Columbia farms in Central Washington, take their cause to Mexico. The striking apple pickers at Flat Top Orchards in Prescott led by the United Farm Workers Union of America organize a campaign to inform the Mexican populace about the plight of ethnic Mexican workers in Washington State by placing ads in two of Mexico’s largest newspapers, ‘La Jornada’ and La Reforma.’ At this time, Mexico was the top export destination for Washington apples.    
  Sep. 20, 2000: The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, sends out a press release to all media outlets announcing the end of a five-week strike by workers at Flat Top Orchards, a mid-Columbia apple grower owned by the Yakima-based Borton & Sons Company. The strike, in response to wage rollbacks, was the largest organized work stoppage during harvest season in Washington State history. The settlement at Flat Top Orchards is also the last of over a dozen wage dispute settlements throughout Eastern Washington, where the number of wildcat farm worker strikes reached an unprecedented level up to that point.    

2001 Spring-Summer 2001: Daniel DeSiga paints the mural “El Sarape” in Toppenish. Upon completion, the mural is the first of the Toppenish Mural Society’s works that references the Latino community. It also becomes one of the first to depict the Latino presence in Washington State’s labor history by way of depiction of braceros in the Yakima Valley.    
  Aug. 2, 2001: The United Farm Workers Union of America unveils its Fair Trade Apple Campaign at an 11 a.m. news conference at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The press conference would serve as a prelude to a three-mile march and rally in Yakima. The plan called for cooperation between retailers, growers and workers in supporting farmers who sign contracts with workers specifying fair wages and benefits as well as spearheading an educational campaign to inform consumers on why they should purchase apples labeled as belonging to the fair trade alliance.    

2003 Sept 20, 2003: Immigrant Rights activists depart from Seattle and make stops in Yakima, Pasco, and Walla Walla on their way to Washington D.C. and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. The larger "Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride" sought social justice for immigrant workers throughout the country.   Sept 20-Oct 4, 2003: Drawing on inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement, thousands of workers, activists, and community members initiate the "Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride of 2003," with participants starting out on the west coast and riding cross-country to converge on Washington D.C. and then rally at Liberty State Park, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New Jersey. The trip ends with a day-long celebration that draws over 125,000 participants who join the 1000 riders at the last stop.

2005 Oct 2005: The Minutemen Project initiates patrols along the northern border with Canada. Soon after, the group shifts tactics and begins a campaign against day laborers in the urban centers, including Seattle and Yakima.   April 2005: The Minutemen Project starts patrolling the U.S.-Mexican Border along Arizona. The project, supported by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Conservative Radio Personalities Sean Hannity and Michael Savage, as well as the ultra-right-wing Council of Conservative Citizens, drew criticisms from many sectors, including former President George W. Bush. Though having a "moderate" central core, the project is notorious for having individual chapters listed as "extreme nativist" groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, including the chapters in San Diego, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Conneticut, Seattle and Yakima, among others.
      Dec 16, 2005: The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437, also known as the Sensenbrenner Bill, after Wisconsin Rep Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican) is passed by the United States House of Representatives with a vote of 239 to 182.The bill included provisions calling for extending the border fence by 700 miles, fining unauthorized residents $3000, made U.S. citizens under the age of 18 wards of the state, and most controversial, made assisting undocumented people a federal crime, instantly criminalizing churches, schools, and community organizations nationally. The massive response in opposition to the legislation led the bill to die on the Senate floor and helped spark a social movement that led to rolling strikes and work stoppages by millions of people throughout the country. In political terms, it led to the loss of Republican control of Congress as well as the Republican alienation of millions of Latino voters.

2006 March 18, 2006: El Comite helps organize a march from White Center to the South Park Neighborhood in Seattle. Despite attracting nearly 3000 participants, the event would go largely unnoticed until after the mass march in Los Angeles.   March-April 2006: Immigrant Rights Movement leads to a wave of activist demonstrations in Washington State. The UFW continues to upheld that labor rights are inspeperable from immigrant rights. The Movement begins with a massive march with 300,000 participants in Chicago on March 10, 2006, followed by an even larger demonstration of 500-750,000 in the streets of Los Angeles on March 25, 2006. Soon after, cities across the country organized massive work stoppages on April 10th (National Day of Action). In addition, there are rolling student strikes and walkouts throughout the country, surpassing activity in the 1960s as the largest student demonstrations in U.S. History.
  April 2, 2006: the Immigrant Rights Movement arrives in Yakima. Spontaneous mass student strikes and walkouts also occurred in Yakima, with students at Eisenhower and A.C. Davis High Schools walking out of classes and onto the streets.    
  April 5, 2006: MEChA Chapters across the State of Washington organize simultaneous actions in support of high school students and to voice opposition to H.R. 4437. The Pacific Northwest MEChA Region would pass a resolution in support of Immigrant and Human Rights with individual chapters working to pass resolutions at the student government level. The Associated Students of the University of Washington pass MEChA's Resolution in late May 2006, after a tense, 3-hour session.    
  April 10, 2006: As one of the cities taking part in the "National Day of Action," Seattle helps draw an estimated 30-45,000 demonstrators to the streets in support of immigrant rights. The event, spearheaded by "El Comite" is organized in collaboration with Washington State Jobs With Justice, the Northwest American Indian Movement, Hatefree Zone, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and many others.    
  May 1, 2006: Thousands of people march the streets of Seattle (an estimated 50-65,000) and Yakima (approximately 15,000) in support of immigrants' rights in some of the largest marches in recent history. The march, characterized as "the day without immigrants" was coordinated by immigrants' rights proponents from various sectors of the community, including faith-based organizations, organized labor, human rights groups, and students at college and high school levels. The event coincided with International Worker’s Day as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with immigrant workers and their families throughout the United States.   May 1, 2006: National "Day Without Immigrants." To protest anti-immigrant legislation, large numbers of immigrants and their supporters flexed their economic muscles by refusing to go to work or school on this day, instead taking to the streets. This expression of unity and solidarity among Latino/as living in the U.S. demonstrates the continuing struggle of laborers to defend their rights in this country. 
      May 26, 2006: "Operation Return to Sender" is initiated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The massive sweep coincides with a rise in workplace raids throughout the country. Seen as retalliation for the Immigrant Rights Movement, many organizations denounced ICE tactics which included indefinite detention and racial profiling. The ACLU of Northern California filed a FOIA request, noting that raids continued well into march of 2007, several months after ICE Spokespersons claimed the operation had ended.



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