Among the many achievements of United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez was creation in the 1970s of the nation's firstand onlyfunctioning pension plan for farm laborers: the Juan de la Cruz Farm Workers Pension Plan. More than seven years after Chavez's death, the plan continues to grow. It serves more 9,700 participants and is worth more than $100 million.
A farm worker qualifies for the pension plan after working under a UFW contract at least 500 hours in a calendar year for at least five years. The average retirement age is 65. The earliest age a participant can retire is 55. Pre- and post-retirement surviving spouse benefits are provided and the plan includes pre- and post-retirement death benefits.
The amount of monthly pension benefits is determined primarily by the number of years of vesting credits, the number of hours worked in each year and the amount contributed per hour by the employer. The amount of employer contribution is negotiated as a part of their contract with the UFW.
Since 1989, the pension planwhich is funded by contributions from growers for every hour worked under UFW contracthas provided cost-of-living increases and other adjustments and bonuses. The pension plan was named for Juan de la Cruz, a 60-year old farm worker striker shot to death on a Kern County, Calif. vineyard picketline in 1973.
Addresses often change and it is important for workers to contact the Juan del la Cruz pension plan to see if they qualify. If the plan does not have an accurate address, it may be unable to contact pensioners to notify them.
Also, there are times when farm workers do not realize they have qualified for pension plan benefits. Recently, a retired 87-year old Filipino-American farm worker Modesto Montero received a $73,357 back pay pension check.
Retired farm workers who believe they, a relative or friend might qualify for the UFW's Juan de la Cruz pension plan should call toll free: 1-800-321-6607, 1-888-735-5352 or fill out the form at <http://www.ufw.org/jdlc.htm>