Founded by labor rights activist César Chávez & Dolores Huerta, LUPE builds stronger, healthier communities where colonia residents use the power of civic engagement for social change. From fighting deportations, to providing social services and English classes, to organizing for streetlights and drainage, LUPE responds to the needs of the community, and takes action that creates a chance for a better life. LUPE’s strength derives from our 8,000+ members throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

César Chávez & Dolores Huerta founded LUPE, a community union rooted in the belief that members of the low-income community have the responsibility and the obligation to organize themselves. Through their association, they begin to advocate and articulate for the issues and factors that impact their lives. Further, César Chávez believed that for people to have ownership of this endeavor, they have to invest of themselves, their efforts and resources, to sustain it. The membership, and the responsibility that comes with it, form the base that is the power of the organization.

Our History

Cesar Chavez, Co-founder of LUPE

Dolores Huerta, Co-founder of LUPE


César Chávez & Dolores Huerta founded LUPE in 1989. LUPE was founded on the belief that when people work together, they can impact change. César & Dolores realized that workers had needs outside the work place. They envisioned LUPE as the entity to help workers and their families by applying the same principles and strategies that he used to build the UFW.

In 2003, LUPE was established in the Rio Grande Valley by Executive Director Juanita Valdez-Cox, then UFW State Director for South Texas. Juanita brought the LUPE model after farmworker leaders recognized the need for a community organizing model to advance the objectives of farmworkers and colonia residents.

Our Strategies

The LUPE strategy of change has evolved over the last three decades and now rest on four pillars.

Responding to the social and economic needs of low-income people in their struggle to overcome the barriers and challenges their face in their daily lives.

Investing in the development of the members and community at large. This self-help program is designed to develop and enable the capacity of low-income families.

Transforming is the element of LUPE that results from the people’s participation in addressing their social and economic needs, developing their human capacity, and advocating for themselves.

Building a Community of Conscience that bridges economic and social differences across the entire community.

Movement Victories

The events marked by the striped circle icons represent the victories during United Farm Workers under the leadership of Rebecca Flores, state director of South Texas. The ones marked by the full circles represent those during LUPE under the leadership of Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director.

1981: Ban of Cortito

Legislation passed; Growers subsequently began requiring workers to use a knife for weeding seedlings.  In

1983: Clean Toilets & Drinking Water in the fields

Texas Dept. of Health adopted field sanitation rules rather than face a national boycott of

1984: Inclusion under Workers Compensation law

In light of a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court, a special session of the

1984: Pesticide Controls

Texas Department of Agriculture adopted a set of rules requiring farmers to warn neighbors (when

1985: Unemployment Compensation for farmworkers

Following the same argument as the Workers Comp law, the Supreme Court forced the Legislature

1985: Minimum Wage improvement

The Legislature raised the state minimum wage from $1.70 to $3.35 per hour.  Later revision

1987: Pesticide Controls

Under threat of another discrimination lawsuit, the Legislature wrote a law which established requirements that

2015: Colonia Streetlights

We worked with county officials and state legislators to pass HB 3002, a bill that

2009: FEMA Lawsuit Re: Hurricane Dolly

In conjunction with Texas Riogrande Legal Aid, LUPE filed a lawsuit against FEMA in the

2011: Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Defeated over 100 anti-immigration bills in Texas legislature as part of statewide “Texas Can do

2012: Colonia Streetlights

After an 8 year campaign, LUPE and ARISE members won the installation of streetlights in

2001-2007: Driver’s License for Immigrants

The Texas Legislature passed a bill removing the requirement that applicants present a Social Security

2001: Resident Tuition for Undocumented Students

Through the organizing efforts of a broad coalition, the legislature passed a bill permitting all

2005-2007: Colonia Streetlights

In 2005, the Legislature authorized counties to expend a portion of their CDBG funds to

2008: DHS Lawsuit

In conjunction with South Texas Civil Rights Project and other non-profit groups, LUPE filed a

2008: Delegations to Valley Police Chiefs Re: 287g

LUPE member delegations met with police chiefs in nine Valley cities to discuss the harmful

2010: Testifying before State Board of Education

LUPE leaders and staff testified during the Board of Education’s public hearing to ensure that

2010: Food Stamps & Assistance

On behalf of LUPE and community members, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid filed a lawsuit against

2011: Drainage & Housing Improvements

Without the proper infrastructure, Colonia residents face persistent flooding, some tolerating standing water for weeks

2012: Parks & Walking Trails

Working with the Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE) initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,

2013: Immigrant Private Prison

With the RGV Equal Voice Network, helped stop the City of McAllen from constructing 1000-bed