Since 1962, the United Farm Workers of America has helped build contracts that protect thousands of farm workers. The UFW helps their members negotiate the conditions, wages and benefits for their labor.
COVID is not the only obstacle that has struck farm workers in recent months. With California experiencing the worst wildfire year in the state’s history, hazardous air quality has brought another hurdle to the farm workers. The Earthquakes wanted to do something to help.
To kick off this new partnership, the Quakes and UFW came to the idea of a t-shirt and sweatshirt fundraiser featuring branding elements of both organizations.
“This was our first partnership with any professional team,” says Bonita Rivera, National Vice President of the UFW. “People were surprised and blown away.”
The fundraiser included black t-shirts and sweatshirts with San Jose Earthquakes x United Farm Workers phrasing. The front shows the UFW’s slogan, “¡Sí, se puede!” The back of the t-shirts and sweatshirts read: “Thank you to our farmers who keep us fed.”
The back of the items display a black and white photo of farm workers in strawberry fields, taken in 1942. The photo was chosen from the archives to show how San Jose’s progressive technological reputation is grounded in a rich agricultural past.
“San Jose has evolved from agriculture to a technology hub,” says Rivera. “Many people from the last 20-30 years don’t even know it was based in agriculture. I think it’s good they chose something about the history of San Jose.”
When Rivera expressed to some of the UFW members that the Quakes were organizing a fundraiser for them, she was met with great responses. Many members conveyed their excitement in knowing their local professional sports team was wanting to do something for them.
Rivera says the workers are honored by the fact that an MLS team sees them and appreciates them, as many members have a deep-rooted love of soccer.
“It’s been a positive, happy feeling when I talk to the workers about the fundraiser. They were blown away that any type of professional team had thought about them,” Rivera says.
Over a few months of sales, the Quakes were able to raise $19,700 for the UFW.
“It’s fun to see their reactions, that a professional team is in support of the people that provide for them,” says Rivera.
The Quakes and the UFW hope that this is the beginning of a long-term partnership to mutually uplift and benefit members of the San Jose and Bay Area community.