Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

The  Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers's Struggle

    Presented by

Cesar Chavez and the UFW


On Starting a Union for Farmworkers

Cesar Chavez and his desk"I had a dream that the only reason the employers were so powerful was not because they in fact had that much power, in terms of dealing with the lives of their workers at will, but what made them truly powerful was that we were weak. And if we could somehow begin to develop some strength among ourselves, I felt that we could begin to equal that, balancing their power in agriculture."

What the Union Means
From the film Bitter Harvest

"The whole idea of the union, it’s not only the union, but it represents, together with you and me, all our brothers, Chicano and white and black and everything, represents an idea that poor people can get together and win. Because they, if we build a union in agriculture today, the balance of power is going to turn around, because, in the rural areas, the growers have undisputed power, and the fight is to keep the workers from organizing so they could equal that. If we could organize the workers, without interruptions from the Teamsters Union, I bet you in 5, 6 years, we will be electing state legislators from the rural area, we’ll be electing judges, we’ll be electing city councilmen, and those workers will be taking hold of governmental agencies through their organization. That’s the fight. Because the moment the worker gets a union and feels secure with his job and his income, what is the next step that he thinks of? Automatically he thinks about politics."

On Nonviolence

"We maintain that you cannot really be effective in anything you are doing if you are so loaded with violence that you cannot think rationally about what you have to do. We know that violence works. I’m not going to say it doesn’t work. Total violence still works and is working many places. I disagree that it has long-lasting good results. I disagree with that. But violence works only when it’s total violence, and non-violence works only when it’s total non-violence. And you can’t have anything in between."

The UFW | Cesar Chavez Elegy | His Own Words | Timeline

Home | The Film | Chavez & UFW | Timeline | The Book | For Sale | Resources | Talkback

© Copyright 2004. Paradigm Productions and Independent Television Service (ITVS). All Rights Reserved.

talkbackresourcesHow to buy the book and videothe booktimelineCesar Chavez & the UFWthe film