Jerry Cohen (AC 1963) Papers
Scope and Contents
The Jerry Cohen Papers consist of a large body of material kept by Cohen during his fourteen years as General Counsel of the United Farm Workers of America and personal attorney of César Chávez. The collection relates primarily to Cohen's participation in the legal battles for union recognition and basic labor rights fought by the UFW in the late 1960s and 1970s. It extends, however, to the year 2008, and documentation about his further practice as a labor lawyer is also present. The collection includes labor contracts, collective bargaining agreements, case files, court hearings, and extensive documentation on California's Agricultural Labor Relations Act (A.L.R.A.) passed in 1975. There is also a variety of news articles, correspondence, printed material, briefs, memos, petitions, research notes, photographs, illustrations and UFW administrative documents. The papers are organized loosely by subject into eleven series that cover the period 1960-2008. Within each series, the original folder titles were maintained, and the order in which they appear respect as much as possible the listing created by Jerry Cohen. The collection contains only non-privileged material.
- Creation: 1960-2009
- Cohen, Jerry, 1941- (AC 1963) (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
The papers are open for research use, with the following exceptions: access to portions of Series 5 (Agricultural Labor Relations Act) and all of Series 6 (Transition Files) is currently restricted at the request of the donor. In addition, some particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.
Conditions Governing Use
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.
Biographical / Historical
Jerome Cohen, labor lawyer and social activist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1941. He received a B.A. from Amherst College in 1963, and earned a law degree at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, a few years later. Cohen worked as a first-year attorney at the California Rural Legal Assistance Office (CRLA) in 1967 when he attracted César Chávez's attention and was called to join the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (U.F.W.O.C.). Acting as Chávez's personal attorney and General Counsel of the U.F.W., he played a critical role in the union's organizing drive in California and other agricultural states. One of his first contributions to the U.F.W. was the creation of a new union, the United Peanut Shelling Workers of America, as part of a strategy to avoid NLRA regulations that prohibited secondary boycotts. His ability to use the law as an offensive weapon to advance organizing goals and build power to the union prompted him to direct the U.F.W. legal department for the next fourteen years, during which he helped migrant laborers win basic rights through litigation, strikes, boycotts, and other non-violent tactics.
Cohen's work resulted in many important constitutional decisions that continue to protect farm workers to the present day. He stepped down as General Counsel of the U.F.W. in 1979, but acted as attorney and negotiator for the union until 1981. He has since then engaged in private practice.
13 Linear feet (24 archives boxes, 3 half archives boxes, 1 tape box)
Language of Materials
Chiefly legal records kept by Cohen during his 14 years as General Counsel of the United Farm Workers of America and personal attorney of César Chávez. The collection relates primarily to Cohen's participation in the legal battles for union recognition and basic labor rights fought by the U.F.W. in the late 1960s and 1970s. The collection contains only non-privileged material.
The papers are organized loosely by subject into eleven series that cover the period 1960-2008. Within each series, the original folder titles were maintained, and the order in which they appear respect as much as possible the original listing created by Jerry Cohen.
The collection is organized into eleven series:
- Series 1: Biographical Material
- Series 2: United Farm Workers of America
- Series 3: Pesticides
- Series 4: Judicial Cases and Labor Contracts
- Series 5: Agricultural Labor Relations Act (A.L.R.A.) [PORTIONS RESTRICTED]
- Series 6: Transition Files [ACCESS RESTRICTED]
- Series 7: Agricultural Labor Relations Board (A.L.R.B.)
- Series 8: Miscellaneous
- Series 9: Loaves and Fishes
- Series 10: Judicial Appointment Fight
- Series 11: Neighbor to Neighbor
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Jerry Cohen (AC 1963) Papers were deposited by Jerry Cohen in 2007. The collection consists of the records Cohen kept during his career as General Counsel of the United Farm Workers of America and as personal attorney of its president, César Chávez. Most folder titles have been taken from the titles on the original folders in which the material arrived. In processing, the papers were organized by subject into eleven series covering the period 1960-2008.
The papers were processed in 2007-2008.
- Isadora Moura Mota, Project Archivist.
- Language of description
- Script of description