Jessica Govea Thorbourne was a labor activist, United Farm Worker union leader and educator. She is best known for her lifelong efforts to achieve justice, equality, education and economic opportunity for Latino laborers. Jessica was born in 1947 in Porterville, California to Juan and Margaret Govea, who were migrant workers. By the age of two, she had already began working in the fields. At an early age, she began leading boycotts, such as her very successful grape boycott in Canada. She graduated valedictorian from Bakersfield High School, and attended college for one year before deciding to join forces with the United Farm Workers Union.
Jessica worked in the fields as a child, and went on to organize farmworkers with the United Farm Workers (UFW), working closely with Cesar Chavez. At the UFW, she directed crucial table grape boycotts in Canada that helped the union win one of its first contracts which ultimately lead to historic settlement with the industry.
Her work was also instrumental to exposing the dangers of pesticide exposure, which became a central part of the UFW's boycott strategy. In her final decades, Jessica worked as a labor educator at Cornell's extension offices in New York City, co-directing the 1199SEIU New York Leadership Development Campaign with The Worker Institute's Ken Margolies. Jessica died on January 23, 2005 at the age of 58 after a long, heroic battle with breast cancer.
Designer: Tayler Pineda @bytppj
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