Today most Mexican Americans live in the cities. Many came expecting better conditions than they had faced in the fields, others came from families of generations of urban workers. They all were disappointed—for poverty in the cities may in fact be more difficult to endure than in the valleys. The Farah Manufacturing Company, like most clothing manufacturers in the Southwest of the United States, is an industrial counterpart of the huge agricultural firms Chavez’s United Farm Workers are battling.
Farah’s large wealth and profits stem from the low wages that are the cause of the Chicano’s plight. (For many of the women workers, the starting wage was $1.70 when the strike began, the promised 10¢ per-hour raise never materializing.)
At Farah there are constant and degrading demands for increases in productivity—usually without the always-promised increase in pay. These constant speedups and pressures make the factories hard to bear (despite clean walls and air-conditioning), and “labor-saving devices” are merely used to drive the individual workers the harder. These are the conditions that led to the present strike....
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