In an expansive narrative, noted labor leader Jesus Salas shares an insider's look at the farm workers movement, from its roots in southern political uprising to its lasting legacy of activism. During his childhood, Salas and his family joined the migrant workers who traveled from their hometown in Texas to work on farms in Wisconsin, Illinois, and other states. In riveting detail, he describes the brutal working conditions and overcrowded labor camps experienced by the Mexican American workers who fueled the Midwest's agriculture industry.
Taking inspiration from Cesar Chavez, as a young man Salas and others led a historic march from Wautoma to Madison to demand that lawmakers address rampant violations of Wisconsin's minimum wage laws and housing codes. These young labor leaders founded Obreros Unidos-"Workers United"- to continue the fight for fairness and respect, as well as to provide much-needed services to migrant families. This memoir of a transnational movement details how their work went beyond the fields to have lasting impacts on representation in community organizations and access to services and education, empowering Chicago and Latino Americans for generations to come.
Jesus Salas cofounded Obreros Unidos and was the first Latin CEO of United Migrant Opportunity Services. He taught bilingual courses at Milwaukee Area Technical College for two decades and was a lecturer at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee. Salas lives in Milwaukee, where he continues to be active in Latino community organizations.