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Theresa Romero Breaks Barriers and Faces Challenges as New President of the United Farm Workers

Reporting for the Palm Springs Desert Sun, Rebecca Plevin writes that the United Farm Workers have selected Theresa Romero as their next president. When she takes over in December for current president Arturo Rodríguez—who’s decided to retire after a 25 year tenure—Romero will become the first immigrant woman to lead a national union.

Continuing the Legacy

Previn delineates the legacy of Rodríguez—the brother-in-law of legendary UFW founder Cesar Chavez who took over the union in 1993 after Chavez’s death—as a leader who sought to make pragmatic gains for farmworkers in California, Oregon and Washington. During his tenure Rodríguez was able to help increase farmworker wages to an average of $13.18 an hour, with guarantees for overtime pay, stricter workplace protections from heat-related illness, and health insurance coverage for workers.

She continues:

But there’s one goal Rodríguez failed to achieve during his tenure as union president: The passage of immigration reform. In 2013, the union negotiated with national grower groups to craft an immigration bill, which would have included a provision allowing workers to earn permanent legal status by continuing to work in the fields. The legislation passed the U.S. Senate but died in the House of Representatives.

Challenges Ahead

Previn outlines the challenges faced by Romero, a born-and-raised Mexican who emigrated to the U.S. in the early ‘80s and later managed an immigration and workers compensation law firm before joining the union nine years ago:

Romero is taking the reins of the organization at a time when the union wields influence in some agricultural fields in California, Oregon and Washington and boasts significant clout in the California legislature. But she will also face the challenge of leading an organization that advocates for immigrant workers and immigration reform, amid a political climate that’s proven harsh for both unions and immigrants.

Previn notes that Romero said fighting for immigration legislation would be one of her priorities as UFW president. We at the Accident Recovery Legal Center stand squarely behind the UFW and the legacy of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, as well as the legendary work of Arturo Rodríguez.

If you work in California agriculture and you need help protecting your rights, Accident Recovery Legal Center is here to help. We offer free initial consultations to help you with any questions about how to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Call us today at 1-888-931-WORK (9675) to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.