Eliseo Medina entered the world of unions when he was 19 years old and worked picking grapes in Delano.
At that time, he bought the weekly editions of El Malcreido, the newspaper of the United Farm Workers.
It impressed Medina, who was born in Zacatecas, México, that the union had filed a complaint with the labor commission and won for farmworkers who had gone unpaid.
"To me, that was unbelievable that someone could do that," said Medina, who dropped out of school to work in the fields.
A few weeks later, Medina went to a meeting of the UFW where he first met César E. Chávez, founder of the union.
Medina hoped to see a giant eight feet tall "with a voice of God."
When Chávez rose to speak in a soft voice, Medina thought, "This man is not going to do."
However, Chávez spoke with such passion and charisma that Medina was immediately went home and broke his piggy bank to come up with the money to pay for three months of union dues.
In 48 years, Medina has ascended to the highest position for a Mexican-American: secretary/treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, one of the most powerful unions in the United States.
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