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Kern Central Credit Union: A Legacy of Serving Workers in the Fields

at a Glance

Original Name: 
Kern Central Credit Union

Oil Refinery Workers

Year Founded: 1974

Year of Merger with Self-Help Federal Credit Union:  2010

Original Founding Location: 
Bakersfield, CA

In 1974, Kern Central Credit Union was formed in Bakersfield, California for the employees of the Kern County Refinery and other nearby employer groups. With the mission, “A Key to a Better Tomorrow,” Kern Central expanded its membership beyond oil field workers to serve individuals, especially the underserved in Kern County.

In 1995 Kern Central merged with the Farm Workers Credit Union, which was founded in 1963 by civil rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. When the Farm Workers CU started, agricultural workers had little or no access to mainstream financial institutions. The Farm Workers CU helped improve the lives of farm workers by offering them new savings tools and access to loans. Cesar Chavez, and subsequently his wife Helen, led the credit union, overseeing a business that grew to serve 100,000 farm worker members.

This documentary includes interviews with credit union members and community leaders who remember the early days of both Kern Central and the Farm Workers CU. The timeline goes through the merger with Self-Help Federal Credit Union, which occurred in 2010. Today Self-Help maintains its tradition as a “sí se puede” credit union by working to create economic opportunities for underserved families throughout California’s southern central valley.


Photo Gallery
Picture of Kern Credit Union's 324 Oak Location

The original location of Kern Central Credit Union.

Cesar Chavez and Helen Fabela Chavez family

Labor and civil rights activist, Cesar Chavez, and his wife, Helen Fabela Chavez, who was the first director of the Farm Workers Credit Union. Farm Workers merged into Kern Central in 1995.

Malcriado article

An article from 1969 from Malcriado, the United Farm Worker’s newspaper, about the growth of the Farm Workers Credit Union.