89-year-old civil rights leader Dolores Huerta arrested at California labor protest

James Ward and Joshua Yeager

VISALIA, Calif. – The 89-year-old civil rights icon Dolores Huerta was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday during a protest in California over pay for workers who care for the elderly and disabled.

Around 500 Service Employees International Union members stormed the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting to demand better pay.

It's been more than a decade since many have received a raise, the union said.

Huerta, co-founder of what would become the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez, was one of six protesters arrested by Fresno County deputies for allegedly failing to disperse after being issued an order to do so, according to Fresno County sheriff's spokesperson Tony Botti.

The six – including Huerta – were released after being issued tickets.

"All of these supervisors make over $100,000 a year, while these people have gone without a wage increase for 11 years, and it's time. Que es tiempo. If supervisors can't take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen," Huerta told reporters.

Veterans, church leaders, and seniors joined the large crowd criticizing accusing Fresno County supervisors of discriminating against women and people of color with unfair wages and benefits.

Negotiations with supervisors have spanned months, according to the union.

Currently, home care workers earn a $12 minimum wage. Supervisors offered a 10 cent raise, but the union said it is pushing for a dollar more.

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Huerta is no stranger to arrests.

Since founding the Dolores Huerta Foundation, the legendary activist has advocated for unions, farmworkers and rural communities without access to clean drinking water.

She has been jailed nearly two dozen times for union demonstrating. She co-founded the National Farmworkers Association with Chavez in the 1960s and Huerta created the rallying cry, “Si, Se Puede,” used by the nation’s poor farmworkers.

With Chavez, she negotiated collective bargaining agreements and contracts with big growers, winning the first health and benefit plans for farmworkers.

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In 2012, her work was honored by President Barack Obama, who presented her with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Obama also acknowledged Huerta for her role in the creation of his “Yes, We Can” slogan during his first presidential campaign.

Following her arrest, Huerta said she plans to continue protesting and hopes other leaders will follow suit.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Dolores Huerta: Civil rights leader arrested at Fresno labor protest