STOCKTON (KCBS) – The co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union is among the 13 newest recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Dolores Huerta has been a labor leader and civil rights activist for more than 50 years, following her upbringing in a farming community in Stockton. In the early 1960s, she co-founded the UFW with Cesar Chavez.

“And by 1970 all the California grape growers had signed contracts with the United Farm Workers, it was truly an historic first,” said Harley Shaiken, a UC Berkeley professor who specializes in labor issues.

Shaiken describes a long road for the 82-year-old Huerta, who has taken part in non-violent protests, lobbied for laws, and has been described as a brilliant organizer. Beneath it all, he reasons, there is a woman with a deep passion for other human beings.

“We’ve all shared in the gains that she’s won for working people,” he said.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

President Barack Obama will award the medals at the White House later this spring.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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