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ALAN POGUE JOURNAL Chavez Brings Boycott Message to Austin AUSTIN Trust the people, not the politicians. This was the message United Farmworkers leader Cesar Chavez brought to Texas during a three-day, three-city tour early this month. “We have never got anything from the legislature and we’re not going to get it now, ” ‘Chavez said in an interview. According to Chavez, there were only 12 years in the history of the U.S.when labor unions won favorable legislation 1936-48. Since 1948, legislation has harmed unions and workers more than helped them, Chavez said. And gains made by labor usually pertained to industrial workers, Chavez contended. “For those of us who have never been covered, who have been excluded because of politics, it has been different. In our case,” Chavez said of farmworkers, “we’ve never gotten anyplace. The only real victories we’ve ever had have been by going to the public at the marketplace.” While in Austin, Chavez led 500 marchers on a three-mile march through a largely Hispanic and black neighborhood in the southeast of the city. Some marchers carried red flags bearing the UFW’s black eagle and others carried posters urging the boycott of California table grapes which the UFW claims are contaminated with pesticides. The union is beginning the fourth year of a boycott intended to compel growers to restrict chemical use; Captan, Dinoseb, methyl bromide, Phosdrin, and Parathion are the specific agricultural chemicals targeted by the UFW. The chemicals, according to the, union, are a danger to farmworkers and to consumers. According to Chavez, as the boycott enters the fourth year growers in California are beginning to feel its effect. “In Cochella, where the grapes are [now] coming from, they’re 30 percent behind the sales last year. And the prices are shot to heck,” Chavez said. “It costs them about $12 to produce a box of grapes in Cochella.” In non-boycott years, according to Chavez, Cochella grapes would be selling for $16-$20 per box during the third week of harvest. “They were selling for $10 yesterday,” he said. The pesticide issue is the focus of the boycott, according to Chavez, because it is what the public most easily understands and it is also what most directly affects the public. Asked if the pesticide issue had become an end in itself, and if the UFW is still committed to organizing and fighting for contracts with growers, Chavez said that recognition and union contracts remain the union’s major goals. “That’s the issue. We want contracts and the pesticides are one of the issues we’re fighting with . . . All of that is possible and the boycott doesn’t end unless we get all those things.” But, Chavez defined workplace safety as an important labor issue, telling the crowd that gathered at the beginning of the three-mile route that 50 workers had been poisoned by. pesticides in California vineyards on the day before the march. Chavez described organized labor’s support of the boycott as “tremendous.” “Organized labor is making the boycott happen,” he said. “That’s the way it’s always been with boycotts … ” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower’s recent fight with the governor and conservative members of the Texas House, according to Chavez, is an example of the failure of the political system to respond to legitimate worker and consumer issues: “That’s the best example of politicians selling you down the river. If Jim Hightower goes to the public, which he will, he’ll see that he’s got support with the public but not with the politicians.” Austin State Rep. Lena Guerrero joined Chavez on the march. Guerrero, who pushed her 18-month-old son in a stroller along the three-mile march route, had carried the Department of Agriculture sunset legislation opposed by the Governor, the chemical lobby, and conservative Democrats and Republicans in the House during the past legislative session. The march ended at an East Austin H.E.B. grocery store where Chavez tola a crowd gathered in the parking lot that 800,000 American children worked in the nation’s fields where they and their families produce more food than the government can store. “The tragic irony,” Chavez said, “is that those farmworkers can not afford to buy the food they need to survive.” The best way to improve the conditions for farmworkers and their families, Chavez said, is by supporting the boycott: “We have more power in the marketplace than we do in the capitol . . . When you vote in the marketplace, your vote counts.” While’ in Texas, Chavez attended a UFW fundraiser in Dallas and a farmworkers’ rally in San Antonio, according to Texas United Farmworkers director Rebecca Flores Harrington. The pesticide issue, according to Flores Harrington, is an issue that cuts across class lines. At the Dallas fundraiser, she said, she was approached by Republicans who are supporting Chavez and the boycott. “It’s the first time that I’ve seen this kind of interest in farmworker issues,” Flores Harrington said. -LOUIS DUBOSE Women’s Convoy Departing for Central America SAN MARCOS Loaded with everything from farm tools to Xerox machines, the Women’s Convey to Central America a group consisting of 4 JUNE 30, 1989