||Arturo S. Rodríguez, President
As president of the United Farm Workers, Arturo S. Rodriguez is continuing to build the union Cesar Chavez founded into a powerful voice for immigrant workers by increasing its membership and pushing historic legislation on immigration reform and worker rights.
Rodriguez is leading the UFW in bringing about meaningful change for farm workers by making it easier for them to organize and negotiate union contracts. He seeks to fundamentally transform American agriculture by creating jobs offering workers decent pay, comprehensive health coverage, retirement security, protections against toxic poisons, job security and guarantees against discrimination and sexual harassment. Under Rodriguez, the UFW is working to offer innovative alternative representation through benefits and services, and to extend innovative representation to workers temporarily brought to work in U.S. agriculture. His goal is also preserving America’s food supply through a strong and viable agricultural industry.
Since the Texas native took over the helm of the UFW upon the passing of its legendary founder in 1993, Rodriguez has increased union membership with an aggressive organizing and negotiating campaign. Among recent UFW victories under Rodriguez’s leadership are agreements with one of the nation’s top five largest vegetable growers, the biggest strawberry employer in the United States, the top U.S. rose producer, the country’s largest winery, the biggest dairy in the U.S. as well as winery workers in Washington state and mushroom workers in Florida.
Recent historic UFW legislative achievements include a 2011 law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown helping farm worker organize when growers deny them the right to have a union; a 2002 California law signed by then-Gov. Gray Davis letting farm workers call in neutral arbitrators to hammer out union contracts when growers refuse to negotiate agreements; a 2005 regulation the UFW convinced Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue, the first state regulation in the nation to help prevent farm and other outdoor workers from dying or becoming ill because of extreme heat; and the bipartisan broadly backed AgJobs bill before Congress negotiated with the nation’s growers to allow undocumented farm workers the permanent legal right to stay in this country by continuing to work in agriculture.
The veteran farm labor organizer was first introduced to Cesar Chavez through his parish priest in his hometown of San Antonio in 1966. He became active with the UFW's grape boycott as a student at St. Mary’s University in 1969. At the University of Michigan in 1971, where he earned an M.A. degree in social work, Rodriguez organized support for farm worker boycotts. He began serving full time with the UFW in 1973, when he first met Chavez, who became his mentor for 20 years. Rodriguez has more than 35 years experience organizing farm workers, negotiating UFW contracts and leading numerous farm worker boycott and political drives across North America.
Rodriguez and his wife Sonia live near the UFW’s headquarters at Keene, in California Tehachapi Mountains.
For event information contact Teresa Romero at (661) 823-6105, firstname.lastname@example.org.
||Sergio Guzman, Secretary Treasurer
Sergio Guzman was born
in Oaxaca, Mexico. At the age of five his mother and
eight siblings moved to Mexico City, from where he immigrated
to the United States in 1986. In 1988, Sergio began
working under United Farm Workers contract with Campbell’s
Soup Co. in Pescadero, Calif. During his first year
on the job Sergio was elected as a member of the negotiating
committee and reelected for eight consecutive years.
It was during the time of negotiations with his company
that Sergio met Cesar Chavez and was inspired by his
work and dedication to La Causa. Sergio participated
in the 1994 “Peregrinacion” from Delano
to Sacramento led by UFW President Arturo Rodriguez.
In 1996, Sergio was recruited by the UFW to work on
its strawberry organizing campaign as an organizing
coordinator. In 1999, Sergio was regional director for the union’s North Coast region, which covers the wine grape
industry. During this time he renegotiated the contracts with a
number of major area companies.
In 2003, Sergio was assigned to work in the Central Coast with
the mushroom and wine grape industries. He was in charge of renegotiating
the Monterey Mushroom agreement in Watsonville, and Monterey Mushroom’s
Morgan Hill contract, the biggest mushroom pacts in the area. He
was also in charge of negotiating two new contracts, with San Martin
Mushroom and Mushroom Farm Inc. He also renegotiated a contract
with Schied Vineyards, GVS and J&L. In 2008, he was assigned
as the internal organizing director for the UFW and oversees the
contracts covering the union’s California, Florida, Washington,
and Oregon regions.
Sergio is married to Claudia Herrera-Guzman. They have two sons,
Ricardo and Andres. Sergio also has two older children, Sergio Jr.
||Irv Hershenbaum, 1st Vice-President
Irv Hershenbaum has worked
with the UFW since 1972 beginning as a college student
in New York. Hershenbaum organized support committees
to work on the boycott of grapes, lettuce, and Gallo
wines. He received a B.A. in History from the State
University of New York and a Masters Degree from Cornell
University in Industrial and Labor Relations. He is
the son of immigrant parents who came to the United
States as refugees from the Second World War. Hershenbaum
was appointed by Cesar Chavez in 1991 to the UFW's National
Executive Board and was elected in 1992 as the UFW's
Second Vice President. In 1996, Irv Hershenbaum was
elected First Vice President of the UFW.
Hershenbaum joined the UFW full time in 1975 and coordinated
grape boycott campaigns in New York, Boston, Denver,
Toronto, North Carolina, Chicago, Philadelphia, Hong
Kong and every major city in California. Hershenbaum
organized picket lines, vigils, marches, fasts, demonstrations,
and press conferences to gain public support for the
Irv Hershenbaum since 1994 has coordinated
contract campaigns with mushroom workers at Quincy, Ariel &
Sunrise, and Pictsweet Mushroom company. He assisted the rose workers
at Jackson & Perkins and C.P. Meilland. Irv worked on campaigns
assisting the workers at Scheid, Chateau St. Michelle, and Gallo
During the strawberry campaign, Hershenbaum led the corporate campaign
at Monsanto that led the neutrality agreement with Coastal Berry.In
addition, Irv worked on the major political campaigns with the UFW
including the historic victory for the mandatory mediation law in
Irv Hershenbaum currently heads the Contract Campaigns Department
developing strategies to involve supermarket owners and buyers to
support the UFW.
||Efren Barajas, 2nd Vice President
Efren Barajas was born in Jalisco, Mexico.
He came to the United States in 1973 at the age of 15.
He started to work at a very early age to help his parents
support his 11 bothers and sisters. In 1977 he participated
in organizing Montpelier Orchards, the company where
he worked. He worked there for 10 years under a UFW
union contract where he learned to use the contract
and the value that a union contract represents to workers.
During those 10 years he also served as a steward and
as a member of the workers ranch committee.
he started working full time for the UFW, as a Regional
Director for the San Joaquin Valley.There he ran a tomato strike which resulted in winning
elections with the three biggest tomato companies with
1500 workers in Stockton, California; and in the Fresno
area, the Gerawan election, the largest stone fruit
grower with 3000 workers. He negotiated the first contract
with S & J Dole Company in the Fresno area with 700
workers. During the Grape Boycott campaign, he was responsible for
negotiating and administering all UFW contracts.
In 1994, he was
elected to the UFW Executive Board and was assigned to the Central
Coast which is known as the Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito
counties. Under his direction this is where the first contract with
Scheid Vineyards was negotiated with 250 workers; Monterey Mushroom
in Watsonville with 500 workers & Coastal Berry with 1000 workers.
Today, he is still responsible for the Central Coast area where
the union has the biggest membership base.
||Giev Kashkooli, 3rd Vice President
Giev Kashkooli is the strategic campaigns
director for the United Farm Workers of America, overseeing
the union political, legislative, research, and communications
work that helps build farm worker power. He has worked
with the UFW for 14 years throughout California, New
York, Washington, D.C., Florida, and across California.
He graduated in 1989 from Brown University in Rhode
Island, where he first became active supporting the
United Farm Workers’ cause.
Upon joining the union, Kashkooli worked coordinating
campaigns that won UFW contracts for farm workers at
the giant Quincy Mushroom Farm in Quincy, Florida and
the large Chateau St. Michelle winery in Washington
state. He played a key role in the UFW’s national campaign
to organize Central Coast strawberry workers at Coastal Berry Co.
(now Dole Berry) that produced union contracts with the largest
direct employer of strawberry workers in America.
Kashkooli served in Washington D.C., representing the UFW among
labor, political and religious organizations and that saw formation
of the National Commission for Strawberry Workers. It sent a blue
ribbon delegation to the California fields to help expose abuses
and promote strawberry worker organizing rights.
Among highlights from Kashkooli’s years as union political
director is leading the campaign and managing the political work
that produced victory with passage in 2002 by the California Legislature
and approval by then-Gov. Gray Davis of the historic mediation law
for farm workers. It allows farm workers to bring in neutral mediators
when growers refuse to negotiate union contracts. Kashkooli organized
and oversaw massive farm worker lobbying activities and coordinated
with a 150-mile pilgrimage from Merced to Sacramento that helped
produce that law. He is presently coordinating the major UFW campaign
to pass union-sponsored legislation making it easier for California
farm workers to organize.
Kashkooli has managed dozens of political races for the UFW, including
the election of county, state and national candidates.
He continues to play a key role in the UFW's immigration reform
efforts and is leading the endeavor to enact the landmark AgJobs
immigration reform bill at the national capital.
Together with his wife Catherine Lhamon, Kashkooli is the parent
of two wonderful girls, Danielle and Clay.
||Armando Elenes, National Vice President
Armando Elenes was born in Sinaloa, Mexico and immigrated
to the United States in 1980 at the age of eight with
his family. Beginning at the age of 15, he worked in
nurseries, dairies and picked peaches and apricots to
help provide for his family during the summer months.
He attended Hilmar High School in [CITY] and graduated
in 1990. He then served his country in the military,
spending four years in the U.S. Air Force. After leaving
the service, he studied for two years at Modesto Junior
College and earned his Associates of Arts Degree. While
at community college he became involved with the United
Farm Workers’ major strawberry organizing campaign
on the Central Coast and organized dozens of union supporters
to leaflet stores and participate in other actions in
the Modesto area. After graduating in 1997, he applied
to attend the University of Southern California. Instead,
he was asked to serve an internship at theUFW office in Los Angeles as a community
organizer. After less than two years with the union, he transferred
to the UFW Organizing Department in Delano and continues to work
there, focusing on organizing workers in the Central Valley.
During his service with the UFW Elenes has coordinated field operations
for political campaigns, run union representation election campaigns
and also organized numerous other organizing efforts. He now serves
as the organizing director for the External Organizing Department
in the San Joaquin Valley.
Armando is married with three children..
||Erik Nicholson, National Vice President
Erik Nicholson is international
director of the Guest Worker Membership Program
for the United Farm Workers of America. He also
served for four years as the Pacific Northwest
regional director for the union and is based in
Tacoma, Washington state.
Nicholson led the two-and-a-half year organizing
campaign at the national guest worker labor-contracting
firm Global Horizons, resulting in the first national
guest worker union contract in the history of
the United States. He currently is working to
develop an international infrastructure to better
advocate on behalf of guest workers.
In his role as Pacific Northwest regional director,
Nicholson coordinated the union’s organizing,
political and contract administration duties covering
Oregon and Washington. He directed the successful four-and-a-half year organizing
campaign at Threemile Canyon Farms, home to the largest dairy in
the world with some 55,000 cows. This effort resulted in the first
major union agreement for Oregon farm workers. He went on to win
a second agreement at another large area dairy. These victories
are significant because there is no labor law that requiring agricultural
employers to recognize a union in Oregon.
Prior to joining the UFW, Nicholson worked for 12 years with PCUN,
a farm worker union based in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. There
he negotiated the union contracts covering farm workers in the history
of Oregon agriculture. He led the successful three-year boycott
of Gardenburger and coordinated the organization’s national
boycott of NORPAC Foods.
Nicholson has worked extensively on pesticide issues affecting
farm workers and their families as well as child labor, housing,
consumer outreach, education and legislative issues. He currently
serves as one of two national farm worker representatives to the
Environmental Protection Agency’s national pesticide advisory
committee, the Pesticide Program Dialog Committee. He has served
on as a member of the board of the Washington state ADRS Agricultural
Employment Mediation Program, Washington state Farmworker Housing
Trust and Washington state Department of Labor and Industries Stakeholder
Advisory Committee on the Cholinesterase Monitoring Rule. He was
a gubernatorial appointed member of the Governor's Industrial Safety
& Health Conference.
In the late 1980s, Nicholson worked for two years in Central America
documenting human rights abuses. He has a B.A. degree from Duke
||Diana Tellefson, National Vice President
“Si Se Puede” (yes, it can be done) was
an attitude Diana Tellefson learned from childhood.
She grew up in National City, California, a town only
15 minutes from the Mexican border. Her mother migrated
from Chihuahua, Mexico at the age of 20 knowing very
little English. Her mother would say, “Never let
someone tell you that you can’t do something or
make you feel as if they are a better person than you
are. Always stand up for yourself!”
After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor
of Arts degree in psychology, Tellefson taught at taught
for four years at an elementary school. During her last
year of teaching, Diana helped establish a successful
political action committee that worked to bring about
positive changes in her school district. She participated
in a post-graduate fellowship and was accepted to the
Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, through which
she developed leadership skills in public policy. Her passion for
the advocacy of farm workers’ rights stemmed from a weeklong
visit to the Central Valley during her fellowship. She told the
other Coro fellows, “I think that this is what I’m doing
with my life. I’m working for the United Farm Workers.”
Prior to serving with the UFW, Tellefson worked as San Mateo County
and Latino outreach coordinator for Joe Simitian’s state Senate
campaign. She managed field organization in five cities as well
as outreach events and communication efforts in two counties. She
also worked on the 2004 presidential campaign as the deputy director
for Voices for Working Families. Diana recruited, trained, and managed
20 precinct walkers in a Latino voter registration and get-out-the-vote
project in three Arizona counties.
After Arizona, Tellefson began with the United Farm Workers’
Political Department. As the union’s immigration reform field
director, she worked to help mobilize farm workers around the historic
AgJobs bill. In addition, she was able to participate in the union’s
big organizing campaign at the giant Giumarra table grape ranch,
focusing on packinghouse workers. This experience made her understand
the deep fear workers feel due to grower intimidation.
Tellefson is now executive director of the UFW Foundation, which
focuses on civic participation, policy, and research. While leading
the UFW Foundation, Tellefson continues to champion immigrants’
rights. Last year, she mobilized hundreds of farm workers who traveled
to Washington D.C. and spoke to members of Congress about the need
for immigration reform. She has organized with other immigrant and
farm worker advocacy groups around the nation to advocate for fair
and just reform.
||Erika Oropeza, National Vice President
Erika Oropeza has worked full time with the UFW for over 6 years. Erika is currently a Lead Organizer in the San Joaquin Valley. She has coordinated teams of organizers in multiple campaigns, helped coordinate historic turnout during immigration mobilizations, and oversaw a successful political operation in the Coachella Valley in 2010. Erika has deep and broad relationships in the farm worker community in the U.S. and Mexico. In addition to embodying the UFW’s Si Se Puede values, Erika helps lead a tech savvy, new generation of organizers. Her greatest hope is to help grow the UFW over the long-term.
Erika graduated from Turner High School in Kansas City, Kansas in 2003. She then moved to Delano where she worked picking table grapes while also attending
Bakersfield City College. Prior to becoming a full-time UFW employee, Erika volunteered at the union’s Delano office helping organize farm workers and in political campaigns. Erika was born in Anaheim, California and raised in both, Kansas City, Kansas and Tangancicuaro, Michoacán, Mexico.