Home > About Us > Who We Are


Many UFW staff members hail from the fields. They bring their knowledge and experience in farm work to help organize their brothers and sisters. They've experienced first-hand the low wages, back breaking conditions and slum living and know how hard it is to organize a union.

Below are the biographies of some of our organizers.

Jorge Antonio Valenzuela

Jorge Antonio Valenzuela was raised in the Coachella Valley, CA and is the son of farm workers. He began his career with the UFW as a volunteer and participated in UFW marches and events throughout the course of his college career at UCLA. After graduating college Jorge moved to Salinas, CA for his first full time job with the UFW. He served as Project Coordinator in a project with the Cesar Chavez Education Institute at $10/hr. He was then promoted to executive assistant to the Secretary Treasurer and currently serves as Regional Director for the Pacific Northwest in our Hermiston, OR office. Jorge tells us, “I can still remember the first march I had as a volunteer, the first time I raised a red UFW flag into the air as the instrument of justice that it has always been. I can still remember the power that I felt as a son of a farm worker, as a Latino, as a human being on this earth. I can still remember marching with all of those folk whom society was intending to trample over and forget. I remember them with their heads and their flags held high, and the sound of the soles of their shoes and their “¡Si Se Puede!” continues to resonate in me-It was definitely a moment of pure liberation. I obtained a college education to better be able to help farm workers but I have to admit that deep down, it just feels incredible to fight for what’s right. To me the UFW is the child who goes to school with a dream, the activist who works tirelessly with a hope for a better tomorrow, and the farm worker who nourishes us all.”

Lauro Barajas

Born in Jalisco Mexico, came to the USA at the age of 16 years old. He started working in the agriculture at Montpilier Orchard after coming to California. In 1993 he started attending Modesto Junior College in Modesto California. In 1996 he started working as an organizer with the UFW, in the Strawberry Industry Campaign in Watsonville CA. He then moved to Oxnard in 1998 where the union won the first big election in Coastal Berry and after the contract. Lauro tells us, "For me it’s very important for people to have a voice at work, to be respected, to feel proud of the work they do and for farm workers to have medical plan, paid holidays, vacations and better wages than the rest of the workers not represented. I feel very good when I see that for 2000 workers working under contract, we provide medical benefits to more than 8000 people that include their dependents spouses, daughters and sons that are covered. It’s also good to know that by every contract we have in one industry we help other workers to be respected; I also know that by every Union office the worker’s conditions are better.  This is what keeps me motivated and moving".

Oscar Mejia

Oscar Mejia joined the UFW in 2006 as a volunteer during the freeze that affected the citrus and was later hired as an external organizer in 2007. Oscar came from Oaxaca in 1996, working in the citrus, grape, asparagus and wheat fields upon his arrival  here. Oscar is married and the proud father of two boys and is expecting another child in the fall. Oscar says his inspiration is Cesar Chavez and his ultimate goal in life is for all workers to know their rights and be represented by a union, because ‘la union es la solucion’!

Nancy Oropeza

Nancy Oropeza has been with the UFW since the 2005 Giumarra campaign where she was a student volunteer. Nancy was then hired as staff  in 2006 . Nancy is originally from Tangancicuaro, Michoacan but now calls Delano home with her husband and 3 year old daughter. Nancy is currently focused on organizing  workers in the San Joaquin Valley and says “ I hope to continue fighting for farm workers as they struggle for justice.

 

Casimiro Alvarez
Casimiro has been working with the union since 1997. He is originally from Michoacan, Mexico where he studied to become a veterinarian. In 1978 he moved to the U.S. and began working the fields. He worked in several different industries including roses and mushrooms. By 1997 he was recruited by the union to work as an organizer. He became a full time employee the same year.

"We are focusing all our time in the battle of the immigrant. I take the job very seriously because it is a very personal battle. I was also in their shoes at one time... I get very angry when my people are taken advantage of."

Casimiro feels that the toughest part of the job is to keep a level head and not let his emotions get on the way. A true believer in la causa, Casimiro has endeavored non-stop since 1997.

Vianey Torres
Vianey is originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. For the past 26 years she has lived in the U.S. During that time span she spent 15 years working as a farm worker. In 1985 she became aware of the UFW when the company she was working for settled for a contract.

By the year 2000 she began her stint as an organizer after first being a volunteer.
"I have to say that the toughest part of being an organizer is that you have to appeal to the interest of all types of workers. They are all different, so you must know what all their needs are."

Vianey is a current organizer in Delano, California.

Juan Manuel Moran
Juan Manuel Moran is originally from Jalisco, Mexico. In March of 1974 he arrived to the U.S. He spent the following 23 years working for the General Vineyard Service. By 1979, the employees at his company decided to organize and join the UFW.

Juan was immediately impressed by the better treatment they received. In 1981 Juan became involved in the Ranch Committee where he volunteered for several years before becoming a full time union employee. Juan is currently a contract administrator, a duty he has performed for the past eight years in the central California coast.

"I am very glad to have the opportunity to work for the UFW because I get to make a difference in the lives of the most exploited workers in America. Helping the less fortunate is the best part of the job."

Everardo Vidales
Everardo is originally from Guanajuato, Mexico. He first arrived to California back in 1974 where he worked as a farm worker in the melon harvest. After a brief stint he began working the rose fields where the pay was better.

Everardo got his first taste of organizing in 1976 where his company went on strike demanding higher wages and successfully accomplishing that. Ever since, Everardo wanted to be part of the union and la causa.

He finally joined the UFW team in 1994 as a volunteer and was given a full-time position the following year.

"Helping our people is the best feeling because there are a lot of injustices," he added.