, SZt \\ Vita All right, everybody, read this! It’s about the lettuce boycott San Antonio Now just stop groaning, sit up straight and pay attention. We don’t ask you to go to church regular or give to the United Fund, but there are certain minimal duties attached to feeling a little more au courant than Dolph Briscoe. One of them is keeping up with the Farmworkers. Your credentials as a grape boycotter have no current validity. You may not be buying iceberg at the Safeway, but we know you slackers have been cheating at the Taco Bell and it’s got to stop. In fact, you’re going to have to start getting obnoxious about lettuce. Because the Farmworkers are in big trouble. In 1966, when the Schenley Industries Wine Grape Ranch \(now White River United Farmworkers Organizing Committee \(now just plain United Farmworkers the AFL-CIO granted farmworkers thought the war had been won and their problems solved. Most of the other grape growers around Delano had fallen into line by 1970; wages went up and the abuses of labor contractors gave way to union hiring halls that promote job security and seniority. The union opened credit unions, food co-ops and medical centers for its members. But if you think the growers fought hard before the first contracts were signed, you should only look at what they’ve been up to since then. According to The Washington Post, the agriculture industry has spent more than $1 million in a public relations campaign to discredit the Farmworkers movement. The Free Marketing Council, a spinoff of the Western Growers Association, says, “Forces of coercion threatening a massive takeover of the nation’s food supply in the field must be brought under control through state and federal regulation.” With the Farm Bureau in the lead, such legislation has been introduced in 17 states and in Congress. The basic model is always the same: a preamble establishing the right of farmworkers to bargain for themselves or with labor organizations, but also protecting their right “without interference from any source to refrain from any and all such activities.” Then a passage giving the grower right to “hire and fire in accordance with his judgment,” which would eliminate union hiring halls. Finally, the guts of the legislation it outlaws any secondary 10 The Texas Observer boycotts \(urging the boycott of a product at the place it is being sold or urging legislation also provides an automatic 10-day injunction against a strike at a grower’s request, thus crippling the impact of a harvest time strike, and it establishes a labor relations board appointed by the governor to oversee union elections and to rule on unfair labor practices. Imagine who Ronald Reagan and Dolph Briscoe would appoint. IDAHO, Kansas and Arizona have already passed this mess. In Arizona, UFW was caught off guard, but they’ve started to fight back with a petition to recall Republican Gov. Jack Williams, a man with all the charm and compassion of Goering. Cesar Chavez fasted for 20 days to protest the Arizona law, which effectively outlaws the UFW in that state. The fast brought publicity, the publicity brought signatures and the union says it already has enough signatures to recall Williams. They’re now aiming to get several thousand more than they actually need to make up for those that will be thrown out on technicalities. Meantime, back in California, the growers’ organizations failed in several attempts to get the anti-union legislation through the Assembly. So they finally pooled $225,000 to get enough signatures to place Proposition 22 on the November ballot. They’re spending a bundle more to get it passed. Pat Brown, Jr., the California secretary of state, has sworn that the growers used illegal means to get signatures on their initiative petition, but it’s still on the ballot. Prop. 22 is simply a particularly brutal version of the Farm Bureau’s anti-union legislation model. The automatic injunction is extended from 10 days to 60 and union elections are limited to those times when permanent employees outnumber temporary employees, thus disenfranchising the migrant majority of farmworkers. Prop. 22 would also eliminate union halls, seniority and perhaps the entire structure of existing union contracts. The proposition is being sponsored by a coalition using the felicitous nom de plume of the Fair Labor Practices Committee. While simultaneously fighting Prop. 22 and the Arizona recall petition, UFW is still struggling with the lettuce strike. The history of the lettuce strike goes back to ’58-’59 when quite a number of the lettuce workers around Salinas, the major producing area, signed up with the old AWOC \(Agricultural Workers Organizing grew in the area and there was some organizing done. In June, 1970, when the grape victories were clear and particularly after the Almaden wine company, which is near the lettuce area, signed with UFW, the workers decided to move for unionization. They began holding rallies and marches and asking the growers for recognition to conduct negotiations. The growers ignored them and instead invited the Teamsters in to sign sweetheart contracts without consulting the fieldworkers. When the workers were approached after the Teamster contracts had been signed to sign for the dues check-off system, they refused to sign and were fired. After about 100 workers had been fired at Inter Harvest, the rest of them struck. The Teamsters and the UFW worked out one problem by themselves and signed a jurisdictional agreement in August, 1970 UFW leaves truckers to the Teamsters and the Teamsters leave fieldworkers to the UFW. But U.S. News & World Report, Business Week and other such reliable sources of labor news are still calling the lettuce strike a jurisdictional dispute between the UFW and the Teamsters. The growers managed to find themselves a lulu of a judge who enjoined the lettuce strike. This judge, Campbell by
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