UFW profits before UFW people: Radio Campesino busted again for illegal ads

Everything Arturo Rodriguez touches – from the UFW that he leads, to the Cesar Chavez Foundation & Radio Campesina – look tainted with sleaze.

Once again, the UFW conglomerate has broken the law. This time, it’s a repeat offender.


KUFW, the union’s “non-profit” radio station that broadcasts in the Visalia area, is illegally running paid commercials promoting for-profit entities – a violation of its broadcasting license.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, DC, has been alerted about the repeat violations.

“The FCC knows a lot about KUFW’s revenue-generating activities,” attorney David A. Schwarz writes in the Weekly Standard. “Over the last two decades, KUFW and its parent network, Radio Campesina, have been admonished or fined five times by the FCC for airing advertisements ‘that were clearly aimed at inducing the purchase of goods or services from several for-profit entities,’ as distinguished from the public service announcements that noncommercial stations can run,” he said.

KUFW/Radio Campesina had to repay $400,000 for violating federally-funded grants

“Five years ago, the inspector general for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which funds KUFW) found the station in material noncompliance with the CPB’s grant terms,” said Schwarz. “In April 2013, Radio Campesina agreed to repay nearly $400,000 in CPB community service grants. The source of repayment? Future grants by the CPB.”

KUFW continued illegal ads as it asked FCC for a favor

The Obama Administration continued to fine KUFW for violating the rules, but approved Radio Campesina’s request to change KUFW’s public radio license to a for-profit license which would allow the UFW’s broadcasts to continue to run ads.

“The proposed swap remains pending before the FCC,” according to Schwarz, an attorney for Gerawan Farming. “Meanwhile, KUFW continued to broadcast ads illegally (and profitably), a point acknowledged by the FCC but apparently overlooked by the CPB, which doled out nearly $1.2 million to the station while KUFW’s license was under review. (In its order imposing the fine, the FCC noted the station’s ‘acknowledgment that it did—as Gerawan alleges—violate the law and rules governing underwriting announcements.’)”

UFW is still a business for Chavez family cronies

The UFW talks a good game about helping farmworkers, but as it distances itself from the plight of workers who truly need collective bargaining, the UFW looks sleazier and sleazier. Some critics call the UFW and its constellation of companies, radios, and foundations, a business empire of César Chávez’s heirs and their cronies.

“How could Radio Campesina hope to turn its history of violations into the grant of another valuable commercial broadcast license?” asked Schwarz in his article.

“One clue might be in the name of the station and the president of the entity that owns KUFW. Paul Chavez—son of the famed labor leader César Chávez who founded the UFW—is the president and chairman of the foundation that holds the FCC license for KUFW and 10 other stations, the Cesar Chavez Foundation. The foundation oversees one of the largest Spanish-language radio networks in the western United States. Its other nine stations are for-profit, commercial entities,” said Schwarz.

For-profit businesses caused UFW to lose interest in organizing farmworkers

“While the Chavez Foundation was acquiring radio stations and government-subsidized ‘farmworker’ housing projects (including one located in San Francisco), the UFW apparently lost interest in organizing farmworkers. Today, the union has one-tenth the dues-paying members it attracted in its salad days in the late 1970s,” Schwarz wrote.

Indeed, today the UFW represents less than one percent of California farmworkers.