Abused mushroom workers demand new UFW leadership

Mushroom workers, feeling abused by their employer and the UFW, demand new leadership at the flailing union.

“Some 300 workers went on strike against the UFW and Monterey Mushroom” on May 25, “demanding a pay raise, just treatment from their managers, and new leadership in the UFW,” KION-TV reported.

This is the first time in memory that UFW members have protested in large numbers to demand an end to the UFW’s ineffective – and what some allege to be morally corrupt – leadership.

UFW’s president has been on the payroll for 45 years. As he schmoozed with the political establishment and rode around in stretch limousines, he drove the UFW into the ground.

ALRB Chairman Emeritus William Gould lamented, without mentioning UFW by name, that the UFW has ceased to organize farmworkers in the fields. The union, he said, “has absolutely no interest in organizing the unorganized.”

Cronyism and nepotism plague UFW

Being a UFW boss is a job-for-life. The UFW has come under intense criticism from supporters for bitter infighting, cronyism, and nepotism.

UFW President Arturo Rodriguez has been on the UFW payroll since 1972. He is the son-in-law of UFW founder César Chávez.

Rodriguez has presided over the collapse of the UFW from 70,000 paid members to fewer than 7,000. That’s a 90% drop in membership, yet he’s still in control.

Permanent employment for Chávez family members and cronies

We reported two years ago that the UFW leadership has given itself permanent employment, despite disastrous job performance.

While UFW leaders pay themselves well, a court recently ruled that they paid their own employees poorly and unfairly. The court ordered UFW to pay $2 million in damages and restitution.

UFW’s own numbers show that it represents only 1 percent of farmworkers.

Here’s a look at how long the UFW crony leadership has been on the union payroll. The salaries and benefits come from the few dues-paying members left who pay 3% of their salaries and wages to the UFW.

  • Arturo S. Rodriguez, UFW President. On the payroll for 45 years, since 1972.
  • Sergio Guzman, UFW Secretary-Treasurer. On the payroll for 21 years, since 1996.
  • Irv Hershenbaum, UFW First Vice President. On the payroll for 42 years, since 1975.
  • Efren Barajas, UFW Second Vice President. On the payroll for 32 years, since 1985.
  • Giev Kashkooli, UFW Third Vice President. On the payroll for 16 years, since 2001.
  • Armando Elenes, UFW National Vice President. On the payroll for 20 years, since 1997.