Gilbert Padilla

Honorary Degrees


California State University, Fresno​

Gilbert Padilla was born in a San Joaquin Valley labor camp and worked as a farm worker. He spent his early years in Hanford and travelled to other parts of California to pick crops with his family. In 1958, he was called on by Cesar Chavez to help organize low income workers. In 1962, he co-founded the United Farm Workers Association.​

From 1974 to 1981, Mr. Padilla was the Secretary Treasurer of the United Farm Workers. During his tenure he helped build a health plan for all farm worker members. This represented a significant and impactful accomplishment on behalf of workers and their families.

Today Mr. Padilla's leadership is embedded in many of the key gains achieved on behalf of the health and welfare of all farm workers. He helped establish a minimum wage for farm workers, bathrooms in the fields, access to water while working and decent housing for farm workers. In fact, it was his belief that all workers should have dignified housing that drove him to work with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.

Mr. Padilla moved to Fresno with his late wife, Esther, in 1982. He continues to be an inspiration for many Fresno youth. Throughout his years working for farm workers he earned a mere $10 a week, plus room and board. His commitment to social justice is evident; it is, in fact, his life's work.

In recognition of his commitment and outstanding achievements to improve the lives of farm workers in Fresno County, the San Joaquin Valley and the state of California, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Fresno are proud to confer upon Gilbert Padilla the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.