Martin Sheen at awards banquet for United Farm Workers Union

Martin Sheen at awards banquet for United Farm Workers Union

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.(KBAK/KBFX) --- The United Farm Workers Union is celebrating its golden anniversary and kicked off numerous events with an awards banquet at the Rabobank Convention Center Thursday evening.  A long time supporter of the union was in town for the occasion.

"Oh, I wouldn't miss this," said actor Martin Sheen.

Sheen was presented with the Humanitarian Award.  A long time advocate for labor, Sheen has been a staunch ally of the UFW.  The union is celebrating its' 50th anniversary.  It was founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta under very humble and adverse conditions as it battled the powerful agribusiness industry.

"This is the spirit of Cesar Chavez reinvigorating everybody involved in the movement, not just farm workers, but all labor movement is under attack," said Sheen.

UFW created history when it successfully won the right to represent farm workers under collective bargaining.  It was able to attain other measures that were unheard of in those times, such as portable toilets. 

But those victories came at a heavy price. Though Chavez was a strong believer in social change through non-violence, several farm workers were killed during confrontations on picket lines.

Today, UFW continues its work to represent farm workers.

"We want to work with the agricultural industry to ensure that their crops are picked, to ensure that there's good safe working conditions for farm workers and good safe food for consumers," said UFW president Arturo Rodriguez.