The Farm Workers Fight It Out

The Farm Workers Fight It Out

Ever since 1968, Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers have had two principal opponents: the growers who control California’s $5 billionper-year agricultural industry and the Nixon administration, which, through Department of Defense purchases of nonunion grapes and lettuce and National Labor Relations Board attacks on the Farm Workers’ right to boycott, has sought to cripple the union.

This year, with the expiration of contracts signed in 1970 at the conclusion of the grape boycott, the Farm Workers acquired a third major opponent: the world’s largest and richest union, the 2.2 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Over the past year the Teamsters took more than 50 contracts from the 60,000-men Farm Workers, and in the coming months that figure is expected to rise. Even the Farm Workers don’t deny the damage the Teamsters have caused. “What we accomplished in eight years of organizing is all being wiped out with one stroke of the pen,” Cesar Chavez said recently.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels