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A report from Chris Hartmire on the DiGiorgio elections

Title: A report from Chris Hartmire on the DiGiorgio elections
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In this memo written by California Migrant Ministries leader Chris Hartmire, dated August 24 1966, the pending DiGiorgio union elections are discussed. Hartmire clearly outlines the signficance of the upcoming August 30 elections, as DiGiorgio, a large-scale fruit business, had previously held unarbitrated elections two months earlier. The United Farm Workers (UFW)  effectively considered those elections null and void since they did not appear to be neutral elections. Finally, Hartmire implores UFW members to vote in order to secure the right to collective bargaining and also notes the muscle that the Teamsters have been exerting within the DiGiorgio Corporation.

Report from Chris Hartmire: DiGiorgio Election

August 24, 1966

TO: Action Mailing List

SUBJECT: DiGiorgio Election and other matters

I am sure you have all read that there will be a union representation election in Delano August 30, 1966 (7 A.M. to 10 P.M.) and in Borrego Springs August 27, 1966 (5:30 A.M. to 9 A.M.). The NFWA, Teamsters, AFL-CIO and DiGiorgio Corporation – all accepted Ronald Haughton's recommendations. The August elections will supercede the June 24 "election". Some of the terms of the election are as follows:

1)  Supervision by the American Arbitration Association with Haughton in charge. Each of the participants can have two observers at the election sites.

2)  Workers on DiGiorgio's Delano payroll September 19, 1965 (day before strike) or who have worked fifteen (15) days between September 20 and August 30 will be eligible to vote.  In a similar manner workers on Borrego Springs' payroll June 23 or who have worked fifteen (15) days between June 24 and August 30 will be eligible to vote. The workers must come to Borrego or Delano on the dates indicated to vote.

3)  "Teamsters", NFWA – AWOC (AFL0CIO)", "No Union" will be the three (3) choices on the ballot. NFWA and AWOC have merged to win the election and carry on the strike.

4)  Unions will have access to DiGiorgio workers during non-working hours.

5)  Company will supply unions with names and addresses of eligible workers.

6)  There will be two voting units:  one for field workers and those closely connected to field work (e.g., irrigators) and one for truck drivers, mechanics, etc. Clerical and supervisory personnel will not vote. Voting will be by secret ballot. If the NFWA wins with the field workers and not with truck drivers, they will represent field workers in bargaining.

7)  If a union wins with one or both of the victory units, bargaining will commence and continue for forty-five (45) days. If there is no agreement after forty-five (45) days, Haughton has the authority to resolve the differences and write a contract. A victory on August 30 ensures a contract.

8)  NFWA agrees to call off the strike and boycott against DiGiorgio. The strike against other Delano grape growers continues.

This is, of course, a great step forward. It is a shame that it took a ten (10) month strike to squeeze out this much  progress. Normally elections are held to determine union representation and avert a strike. There are of course problems

1)  To win, NFWA has to win 51% of the votes cast. Getting more voters than the "Teamsters" or "No Union" is not sufficient.

2)  The company is still in charge of hiring and is trying to change the composition of the work force to favor the "Teamsters".

3)  Cesar Chavez' strength with Mexican-American workers may turn out to be a weakness with Anglo workers.

4)  The "Teamsters" are throwing enormous resources into their drive for a victory. NFWA resources are limited. New AFL-CIO money is not yet visible.

No one knows how the election will turn out. DiGiorgio is openly throwing its strength behind the "Teamsters". Everyone in Delano is working beyond their own personal strength and resources to nail down a smashing victory after ten (10) mos. of struggle and suffering. People are worn out but still hopeful. Can you help with the election? Specifically, cars and drivers may be needed the evening of August 29th and during the day, August 30th to transport workers to the polls. Please drop a card to the Rev. Phil Farnham, P.O. Box 130, Delano if you can volunteer for this assignment.

Keep us in your prayers. Godspeed.

Your brother,
Wayne C. Hartmire, Jr. WCH/sm

P.S. A Ramona jury acquitted eight (8) field workers of trespassing charges but convicted Cesar Chavez, Father Victor Salandini and me. Sentencing will be September 7th. There will be an appeal

Courtesy of the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project


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