Date of Award

Winter 3-9-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Julie Nicolletta


People of Hispanic descent have been central to the agricultural production of the United States since the eighteenth century. This paper highlights how the signing of the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement by the United States and Mexico in 1942 enabled the spread of Mexican labor workers to the agricultural fields and railroads of the US due to the labor shortage produced by World War II. This migration of labor delivered two decades of poor wages and atrocious working and living conditions for braceros by the hands of white farm growers. By the 1960s, the efforts of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) to organize labor workers transitioned the labor movement from California to the fields of the Pacific Northwest.

This paper consists of primary sources, such as newspapers and interviews, of former braceros that labored in agricultural fields throughout the Pacific Northwest from 1947-1952 and labor organizers that unionized minority workers from 1965-1972. Secondary sources, such as academic journals and scholarly books, examining the history of the Bracero Program provide context for the inhumane practices of farmers that continued well after the program’s termination in 1964. Finally, this paper acknowledges the role of Chavez and the UFW during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s that enabled future generations of Latino Americans to organize labor workers in Washington State.