Image: Oxnard CSO in Oxnard 1958 In 1958 César Chávez returned to Oxnard, California to organize a Community Service Organization chapter in Ventura County. The project was funded by the United Packinghouse Workers of America to solidify and expand its union base in the region. As Chávez conducted his house meeting campaign it be became clear to him that the agricultural industrial complex’s reliance upon the Bracero Program both exploited Mexican guest workers and undermined the status of domestic farm labor. In fact, Oxnard’s Buena Vista Bracero camp, created by the grower sponsored Ventura County Farm Labor Association, was reputedly the largest of its kind in the nation.
The next year the Ventura County CSO based in Oxnard exposed the collusion of federal and state agencies with the agricultural industrial complex in not carrying out the protections and regulations of Public Law 78 that governed the Bracero Program. The Ventura County CSO and the UPWA, for a very brief moment, however, were able to ensure that domestic farm workers were given priority to be employed. This short-lived victory inspired César Chávez to organize a farm workers union after his beloved CSO refused to expand its attention to this area of need. The result ultimately was the creation of the United Farm Workers movement that served as a major voice for not only farm workers but all concerned with the condition of los de abajo.
So if you are interested in making communities in Ventura County recognized National Park Service sites significant to César Chávez legacy and the farm labor movement attend the May 10th, 2011 National Park Service Special Resource Study meeting at the Café on A-Rodolfo F. Acuña Gallery and Cultural Arts Center from 6:30-8:30pm. For more details visit: