UFW president to speak at Planada school

United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez will speak Wednesday at Cesar E. Chavez Middle School in Planada.

Rodriguez, who succeeded the school’s namesake as UFW president, will give the keynote address for the eighth-grade graduation set for 7 p.m. at the 161 Plainsburg Road school.

Rodriguez, 64, took over the role of president after civil rights leader Chavez died in 1993. He has since won more than 20 union elections to keep the position.

He has played a role in negotiating contracts between farmworkers and some of the country’s largest agriculture producers. He also helped to push legislation to protect laborers, including the 2011 law to help farmworkers organize into a union, a 2002 law that lets farmworkers call in neutral arbitrators for contract negotiations, and a 2005 regulation to help protect outdoor workers from extreme heat.

The organizer first learned of Chavez through a priest in his hometown of San Antonio in 1966, according to the UFW’s website. He became active with the UFW’s grape boycott as a college student three years later.

Rodriguez, who earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, began full-time work with the UFW in 1973. Rodriguez has more than 40 years of experience organizing farmworkers, negotiating UFW contracts, and leading boycotts and political drives across North America, according to the website.

For more information on the ceremony, call the school at (209) 382-0764.