This chronology offers a list of selected dates related to the Chavez-Higgins site


George Gilmary Higgins born in Chicago


Cesar Estrada Chavez born near Yuma, Arizona


Chavez family moves to San Jose, California, after loss of family farm


Higgins ordained in Archdiocese of Chicago; begins study at the Catholic  University of America in Washington, DC


Higgins begins work with the Social Action  Department (SAD) of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC)

Chavez joins the U.S. Navy


SAD director Father Raymond McGowan relinquishes authorship of his syndicated The Yardstick column to Higgins, which he would use to address numerous labor issues


Chavez returns to California to work in the fields


Community organizer Fred Ross, on the recommendation of Father Donald McDonnell, convinces Chavez to join the Community Service Organization as a volunteer organizer; by 1958, Chavez would be director of CSO


Higgins named director of SAD


Secretary of Labor James Mitchell names Higgins to commission to investigate bracero program, recommending that it be phased out. The program ended in 1964


Chavez resigns from CSO after being unable to convince colleagues to allow him to unionize farmworkers; he and former CSO colleague Dolores Huerta found National Farm Workers Association


Filipino-led Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) begins strike of grape growers in Delano, California, in protest of braceros being used for the harvest; the NFWA joins the strike days later


Chavez embarks on march from Delano to Sacramento to bring attention to the plight of the farmworkers and the grape strike

U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare’s Subcommittee on Migratory Labor hold hearings in California on the grape strike; Sen. Robert Kennedy, a committee member, voices his support the workers

DiGiorgio Fruit Company and Perelli-Minetti Winery workers vote to be represented by UFWOC

NFWA and AWOC join to form United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC)


Higgins and Chavez meet for the first time at the National Catholic Social Action  Conference convention in Boston; Higgins lauds Chavez in Yardstick column of September 4

UFWOC and Teamsters reach jurisdictional agreement


Chavez engages in first fast as a means of continuing the UFWOC’s commitment  to non-violence. He would end his fast March 10 after 24 days by eating with Kennedy

National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) issues Statement on Farm Labor, which urges legislation to assist farmworkers but does not endorse the grape strike


Higgins endorses grape strike in his Yardstick column

NCCB creates Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee for Farm Labor to act as a mediator in negotiations between the UFWOC and growers


Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee assists in negotiating contracts between remaining grape growers and UFWOC, signaling the end of the grape boycott

Teamsters negotiate contracts with lettuce growers to be sole labor representative of its workers; UFWOC initiates lettuce strike and boycott

Chavez is jailed for 20 days in December for defying a court order prohibiting the use of strikes and boycotts


UFWOC shortens its name to United Farm Workers of America (UFW) after its acceptance into the AFL-CIO.

Chavez holds 25-day fast in Phoenix to protest Arizona law that essentially outlawed union organization, strikes, and boycott

California Proposition 22, which would have guaranteed the right to unionization, but severely restricted strikes and boycotts, was opposed by the UFW and defeated by California voters.


Teamsters negotiate new contracts with grape growers as those originally signed with UFW in 1970 expire; UFW reinstitutes grape boycott.

U.S. Catholic Church officially endorses UFW and its boycotts


Chavez granted an audience with Pope Paul VI in Rome.


The California State Legislature passes, and new Gov. Jerry Brown signs, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act (CALRA), which allows for secret ballot elections among workers to decide whether they want union representation, and if so, what organization will represent them. The act also sets up a commission that will hear labor disputes.


Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee begins to pull back from the California struggle due to the passage of CALRA


Teamsters and UFW reach long-term agreement respecting jurisdictional boundaries


UFW wins numerous unionization elections


Higgins retires from the NCCB (now United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)


Chavez continues to lead the UFW with varying degrees of success


Chavez dies on April 23 in Arizona


Higgins dies on May 1 in Illinois

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