ByHildaSolis Editor’s Note: Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis spoke at a reception in honor of Dolores Huerta who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on May 29th.
workers who were organizing a union. There were reports of violence during the campaign and Dolores came to my office in Sacramento to see me. She showed me a video of a man brutally throwing an entire crate of strawberries on the head of a woman working in the fields. When the video concluded, she looked up at me and simply said: "We need to do something. Let's get to work." And we did, crafting legislation and collaborating closely with the Agricultural Labor Relations Board in California. Our efforts made a difference.
Raised by a single mother in the farm worker community of Stockton, California, Huerta observed the unhealthy and inhumane conditions faced by many migrant farm workers as a young girl. Subsequently, she dedicated her life to helping the men and women who harvest América's fields. She accomplished this through her steadfast commitment to non-violent protest and by teaching individuals that they have both the personal power and responsibility to work together to improve their lives.
Dolores stood side by side with César Chávez and together, they did what people said could not be done. They protected the grape pickers. They got disability insurance and family aid to protect farm workers who got hurt in the California fields. They pushed-and passed-the first law giving farm workers the right to bargain and negotiate for safer conditions and better wages. And together, they taught the doubters a lesson.
No politician was too powerful. No farmer was too rich. No cause was too difficult. When some people said, "No, no we can't." They said, "Yes, we can" Si, se puede.
Dolores is a luchadora who endured arrests, death threats and beatings - a fearless woman who at the age of 58, was beaten and nearly killed by a San Francisco police officer during a
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