¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 4 (Part 2)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 4 (Part 2)
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The primary source document described below, which can be viewed by clicking the thumbnail at right, is part of a 1,434-page file on César Chávez and the farmworker movement compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) between 1965 and 1973. The FBI's surveillance of Chávez, which paralleled larger efforts to prove that protest groups of the civil rights era had been infiltrated by subversive influences, was unable to uncover any evidence of communism or corruption in the activities of Chávez and his followers.

The FBI's dossier on Chávez was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which contains provisions that allowed the FBI to withhold portions of the documents from public view. Indeed, many parts—and in some cases, entire pages—have been excised from the files. Nevertheless, the collection provides a compelling window into the efforts of the farmworker movement, as well as the values and methods of the FBI itself.

In August 1967, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continued to monitor protests of the Delano grape strike, which had gained national attention. Organized by the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFW), the strike was launched against California grape growers in 1965 to gain higher wages and bargaining rights for migrant farm workers. The UFW called for a nation-wide boycott of California grapes, which was supported by civil rights groups, religious organizations, and other labor unions. By the time the Delano Grape Strike ended in 1970, additional labor disputes and strikes had begun in other parts of the country.

Dated on August 11, 1967, a report by the Chicago field office described six UFW supporters passing out pamphlets near a federal building. The pamphlet denounced the efforts of California growers to use Mexican workers to break the Delano grape strike as illegal because the Naturalization and Immigration Act (1952) prohibited the use of green card holders when the secretary of labor has declared a labor dispute. Additionally, the pamphlet urged people to contact the U.S. Secretary of Labor and Attorney General to intercede.

Also dated on August 11, a document by the Los Angeles field office reported that UFW director César Chávez and about 150 UFW protestors had picketed a federal building in Bakersfield, California. Described as "orderly and peaceful," the demonstration was aimed against the use of foreign workers as strikebreakers. Additional, the Los Angeles field office noted that in the previous week, another strike had begun in Edison, CA to pressure the owners of Guimarra Farms to recognize the UFW in bargaining negotiations on behalf of workers.

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