University Archives


Cesar Chavez signed National Farm Workers Membership Card, Origin of the United Farmworkers Union, PSA slabbed Mint 9

Small card 3.5" x 2.5", for the Professors Academic Membership 1966 NATIONAL FARM WORKERS ASSOCIATION /Delano, California. Small red insignia to upper left and signed by Director Cesar Chavez as "Cesar Chavez". PSA slabbed MINT 9. Slab size 5.25" x 3". Accompanied by a copy of a form letter from the NATIONAL FARM WORKERS ASSOCIATION. 8.5" x 11". Fine condition. 

A wonderful piece of agricultural history, the National Farm Workers Association was founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, a migrant farm laborer. It originated from the merger of two workers' rights organizations, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) led by organizer Larry Itliong, and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. They became allied and transformed from workers' rights organizations into a union as a result of a series of strikes in 1965, when the mostly Filipino farmworkers of the AWOC in Delano California initiated a grape strike, and the NFWA went on strike in support. As a result of the commonality in goals and methods, the NFWA and the AWOC formed the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee on August 22, 1966. (This organization was later accepted into the AFL-CIO in 1972 and changed its name to the United Farmworkers Union)

The NFWA originated as a grassroots organization on the premise that farm workers can be organized by providing services that transform their day to day lives. Functioning somewhat like a co-op, the intent was to unify the farming communities common needs which would lower costs, save time and allow for higher quality of services. Some of the features including a discount store for tires and oil, a staff for job grievances, a newspaper, a life insurance program, a parts store and service station for the equipment where families can bring their cards to fix under the direction and supervision of a master mechanic. And ultimately even a pharmacy.

The NFWA was also appealing to the assistance of the academic community with the belief that farm workers themselves were not able to raise all the capital necessary to provide these services, the intent was to solicit support from professors who would understand the need for a democratic society to eradicate social injustice. At the time Farm Workers were making only about $2000 to $3000 a year, an equivalent in todays terms of about $15,000, an absurd amount for a family to live on.

The form letter requested a donation of $10 as a contribution to an academic membership to bring a measure of social justice in California agriculture "one step closer". A great piece of history of the grass roots beginning of the United Farmworkers Union.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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