In 1965, grape workers in the San Joaquin Valley in California went on strike to demand higher wages and better work conditions. Many farmworkers were denied a living wage or basic necessities, such as sufficient housing, healthcare, or education for their children.
The strike began mainly with workers of Filipino ancestry, organized by Larry Itliong and the union called the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC).
At the time, César Chávez and Dolores Huerta led another union in the San Joaquin Valley, the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which was comprised mostly of Mexican-American farmworkers. The NFWA decided to support the strike, and in 1966, the two unions merged into the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (United Farm Workers).
The grape workers strike lasted from 1965 to 1970. In 1966, César Chávez led a march from Delano in the San Joaquin Valley to Sacramento, to draw attention to the strike. The march succeeded in bringing national attention and the first negotiations between vineyard owners and the union. However, most of the growers continued to refuse to negotiate with the union, and the United Farm Workers organized a national boycott of grapes to place additional pressure on the growers. Many consumers were sympathetic to the strike and refused to buy grapes, and grocery stores followed suit by refusing to stock non-union grapes. By 1969, grape sales in the United States had dropped 30–40% as a result of the strike and boycott.
In 1970, all the major grape growers in the San Joaquin Valley agreed to negotiate with the United Farm Workers, and the resulting agreement granted workers a 6% wage increase and recognized the right of the union to negotiate on behalf of farmworkers in the future.