This week in 1965, Filipino grape pickers walked off vineyards in a coordinated attempt to get higher wages. The Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee was led by Philip Vera Cruz, Larry Itliong, Benjamin Gines and Pete Valasco. One week later, the predominantly Mexican-American National Farmworkers Association, led by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Richard Chavez joined the strike.
The two unions eventually merged to create the United Farm Workers of America and the strike spread to more than 2,000 workers. It took five years, but the movement gained national attention for the plight of farmworkers and led to a collective bargaining agreement that affected more than 10,000 farm workers. On the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the strike, we learn more about the role Filipino Americans played in the movement.