Rodolfo Mendez

Rodolfo, the Trailblazer

Local 338 member Rodolfo Mendez and his fellow workers at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic are trailblazers in the New York State labor movement. With the passage of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act in 2019, farmworkers became eligible to organize and join a union. Rodolfo and his eleven coworkers became the first farmworkers in New York State to join a union and created a map for success for farmworkers across the state seeking to organize. 

Rodolfo was born and raised in Guatemala and immigrated to the United States over fifteen years ago. “I came to the United States to give my wife and kids a better life. I wanted to afford my kids the opportunities that I never had growing up.” Rodolfo has four children, two boys and two girls. He enjoys learning about new things and going to church, “I am a proud, church abiding man. I believe everything happening now is all thanks to God.” 

At Pindar Vineyards, Rodolfo is responsible for growing and picking grapes. He also prepares the vineyard for winter. He ensures the plants are ready for the following season which, if not done correctly, can lead to a devastatingly bad harvest. When asked about his relationship to his fellow members at Pindar, Rodolfo says, “we are all united. If not, we could not have accomplished what we did.” They function as a team both while working and in their campaign to organize. 

Rodolfo says he feels honored and proud to be among the first unionized farmworkers in New York State, “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Local 338, Noemi, Yomaira, and all our allies who made this possible. Without your help and guidance, this would not have been possible.” His message to other farmworkers seeking to organize is this: “Do not be afraid and fight for what is rightfully ours. We deserve dignity and respect. We invite all our brothers and sisters to join this movement – our movement!” 

Rodolfo’s journey does not end here. He wants to spread his confidence and bravery to his fellow New York State farmworkers and inspire them to join a union. “My favorite thing about being in a union is that we have strong guidance and, most importantly, we have protection and respect”. Local 338 is proud to represent heroes and pioneers like Rodolfo and his fellow members.