Members of the United Farm Workers, AFL CIO, announced the distribution of the first pension check to an employee of the McAllen, Texas, Holy Spirit Parish under union contract since July 2002.
Armando Rodriguez, employed at Holy Spirit parish since 1987, joined the union in July 1, 2002. He will receive a Juan de la Cruz pension check for the rest of his life, and further if his wife survives him, she will receive a portion of his pension until the end of her life.
Fr. Jerry Frank, pastor in 2002 at Holy Spirit, signed a union contract that contributed an amount for each full time employee based on seniority. Union contracts with this provision also exist at San Felipe in Brownsville, St. Joseph the Worker in San Carlos. Two churches (St Joseph the Worker in McAllen and Sacred Heart in Hidalgo) which had also signed contracts with the UFW in 2002, have sued the Juan de la Cruz Pension Plan in an attempt to remove their employees from this benefit. The lawsuit is presently before Federal Judge Randy Crane.
The Juan de la Cruz pension plan is the first pension plan for farm workers in the history of the United States. It was established in the early 1970’s by Cesar Chavez. At present there are more than 10,000 participants and is worth more than $90 million.
A worker qualifies for the pension plan after working under a UFW contract 500 hours in a calendar year for at least five years. The average retirement age a participant can retire is 55. Surviving spouses’ benefits are provided.
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 part of the contract with the UFW.
Since 1989, the pension plan has provided cost of living increases and other 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, California vineyard picketline in 1973.
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 received a $73,357 back pay pension check.
For more information contact: Rebecca Flores, cell 210 842 9502, e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Or, the Juan de la Cruz Pension Plan, PO Box 36, Keene, CA 93531. Phone: 1 800 321 6607.
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