Jerry Cohen


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“Jerry began hanging out at People’s Bar, mingling with the union staff. When he saw Jim Drake and a group of protesters being kicked out of a Mayfair parking lot in Bakersfield one afternoon, Jerry went over to offer legal advice. He cited the cases that protected equal rights to free speech in public places and negotiated a compromise with the store owner. That intervention led to a meeting with Chavez and Bill Kircher, organizing director for the national labor federation.

In a note to his boss, AFL-CIO president George Meany, Kircher explained that Chavez badly needed a full-time attorney: “We have investigated this thoroughly and I have found a young man who, in my opinion, ‘fits the bill.’ He is anxious to help farmworkers. He is married. He and his wife are both under 30 years of age. She too, wants to help.” At the Friday night meeting on May 12, 1967, Chavez introduced Jerry to the crowd at Filipino Hall. By loud acclaim, the members approved a motion to name Jerry the first general counsel for the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee. He had just turned twenty-six.”


excerpt from The Union Of Their Dreams

    Jerry explains his job.pdf
  Classic Jerry : The lawyer's scrawled response when Chavez rejected a request on behalf of a legal department staff member whose union car was unsafe to drive.