Where Are They Now?

These updates are intended primarily for those who have read "The Union of Their Dreams" and are curious to know what has become of some of the characters in the book. The short synopses don’t attempt to fill in the gaps of the past few decades, but merely offer a quick glimpse of what people featured in the book - in major and minor roles - are doing now.
Doug Adair runs Pato’s Dream Date Gardens, where he grows and sells organic dates in the Coachella valley.
Chava Bustamante is finishing his second decade working for the Service Employees International Union in California. He currently organizes health care workers.
Mario Bustamante runs a small taxi company in El Centro. He and Gretchen Laue married and chose to raise their three children in the Imperial Valley, where they would be exposed to the worlds of both parents.
Cois Byrd retired in 1994 after serving two terms as Riverside County Sheriff. He works as a consultant to the department on various issues, including his pet project—collecting artifacts to document the history of the law enforcement agency.
Jerry Cohen still lives on the Monterey peninsula. In 2009, he joined LeRoy Chatfield in an effort they call “Labor Justice,” a crusade to include farmworkers and domestic workers under a revamped National Labor Relations Act.
Tom Dalzell was elected business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 in 2009. He is working on his seventh dictionary of slang and finishing a historical novel about his years with the UFW.
Ellen Eggers works for the California Office of the State Public Defender, where she has spent two decades representing prisoners on death row. She travels frequently to Costa Rica to visit her infant grandchild.
Marshall Ganz is a lecturer at the Kennedy School at Harvard University and recently published Why David Sometimes Wins, a book based on his PhD dissertation about the early successes of the farm worker union.
Jessica Govea lived in New Jersey with her husband, Kenneth Thorbourne, and during the last decade of her life taught organizing at Rutgers and Cornell, worked with the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, trained organizers with garment workers and health care workers, and lived life fully until her death in January, 2005.
Cleofas Guzman lives with his daughter in Los Angeles. He never regained his mental acuity or his physical strength. He was feted by his old UFW friends on his birthday last March.
Chris Hartmire lives in an activist church retirement community in Claremont, half an hour east of Los Angeles. Chris continued until recently to serve on the board of the National Farm Worker Ministry and to work as a consultant for SEIU.
Dorothy Johnson is an attorney who supervises the San Diego county office of California Rural Legal Assistance, helping farmworkers. She still fights with the same companies that the union did thirty years ago, goes into workers’ camps, tells them about their rights and advocates for them in court.
Corky Larson retired after serving as a member of the Riverside County board of supervisors. Her husband, Keene, died in 1986 when the small plane he piloted crashed into a mountain. Their son still harvests grapes in Coachella.
Gretchen Laue is director of the University of California Professional Development Institute, based in San Diego. She designs and oversees programs to train teachers in California school districts, including farmworker communities around the state. (Pictured with her and Mario's son Rafa.)
Sabino Lopez is the deputy director of the Center for Community Advocacy, a non-profit group in Salinas that helps farmworkers with housing problems, teaches them their rights and structures programs to help them purchase homes. He is the first farmworker to serve on the board of the National Steinbeck Center.
Eliseo Medina is an executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, overseeing SEIU operations in 17 southern and southwestern states. He has been the key person shaping labor’s position on immigration issues and advocating reform to grant legal status to millions of undocumented workers.
Marion Moses became a doctor and founded the Pesticide Education Center. She wrote a book about the dangers of common pesticides in the home.
Sandy Nathan married Kirsten Zerger and moved to Kansas, where he works as a labor lawyer and serves on the Moundridge School Board. He continued a California-based practice and has represented practically all workers – except those in the fields.
Gilbert Padilla taught English, worked in the fields, and sold insurance. At the Salinas memorial for Jessica Govea, he convinced Gretchen to help organize a project to document the history of the Community Service Organization, striving to document a forgotten chapter in the civil rights movement of the country.
Rosario Pelayo never returned to the fields after the dissidents were purged in 1981. She lives in the Imperial Valley and has applied the organizing skills she learned in the union to help local churches and schools.
Ruth Shy lives in New Mexico and works as a consultant on political campaigns and for unions and social justice groups. She recently helped Gretchen Laue organize a conference on the Community Service Organization.
Shelly Spiegel is the executive director of Californians Together, a coalition working to improve education for English learners.
Billy Steinberg is one of the top song-writers of all times, co-writing dozens of hits including “Like a Virgin,” “True Colors,’’ “Eternal Flame,” and “I Drove all Night.” The Steinbergs’ vineyards were sold a few years before Billy’s father, Lionel, died in 1999.
Larry Tramutola runs a political consulting firm in Oakland, California, which specializes in school bond issues. He wrote a book about community organizing.
Lydia Villarreal is a superior court judge in Monterey County, where she has served on the bench since 2001.
Scott Washburn has worked for two decades as an organizer for the Service Employees International Union, most recently as state director in Arizona. He still organizes elections using the four rules he learned in the UFW.
Martin Zaninovich still oversees Jasmine Vineyards, where his son Jon, born just before the 1965 strike began, has taken over the day-to-day operations of the Delano vineyard.
Kirsten Zerger is director of education and training at the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College, where she founded a community mediation center. She also teaches courses in mediation, negotiation, law and restorative justice.