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Farmworker Movement: Strike Report #1

Title: Farmworker Movement: Strike Report #1
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The following strike report from September 27, 1974, was compiled by the United Farm Workers (UFW) to inform its members and allies of its most recent activities. Through such boycott information reports, the UFW was able to highlight recent successes as well as illustrate existing challenges with growers. This particular strike report announces the current status of the Yuma lemon strike in Arizona, the Watsonville apple strike, Northern California tomato strike, and the Gallo strike. In addition to news on current strikes, this report also proclaims recent successes, such as the upcoming harvest of a small grape grower with a UFW contract, William Smeds & Sons, and papal support of the national UFW boycott.

TO: All Entities and Volunteer Boycott Committees
FROM: Boycott Information
RE: STRIKE REPORTS
DATE: September 27, 1974

*YUMA LEMON STRIKE - There are still very few scabs in fields. Strikers are driving up and down along the border every night and, with much success, are convincing the illegals not to work at the struck ranches. The growers have begun advertizing for strikebreakers from as far away as Bakersfield and are promising high wages, paid transportation, and a variety of benefits. Naturally, no mention is made of the strike. The growers are complaining of losses of $200,000 a day.

WATSONVILLE APPLE STRIKE - Workers at the Buack apple ranch walked out on Setember 23. Buak is the largest apple grower in the area and has a Teamster contract. One hundred strikers, supposedly Teamster members, have signed UFW authorizations and the Union is demanding recognition. Yesterday 40 Teamsters organizers were at the ranch to harass the pickets, and two of our people were hospitalized after being seriously beaten by the Teamsters. Striker Pedro Gonzales suffered a broken arm and required eight stitches. Jose Carlos Ruiz, a UFW Watsonville field office director, sustained a concussion. Their Teamster-assailants were not arrested.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA TOMATO STRIKE - The cannery tomato season will end shortly and the strike will end with it. No estimate of the growers' losses is available at this time, but it is expected to be very high. Many of the tomatoes that were harvested were too green to be sold.

On Sunday, September 22, the annual tomato harvest fiesta was held. A priest invited the huelgistas to attend. When they arrived the growers and contractors departed amid shouts of "Abajo los contratistas!" and "Abajo los rancheros!" (Down with the contractors! Down with the ranchers!) The strikers sang De Colores at the harvest fiesta and a good time was had by all (except the growers and the contractors).

Earlier in the strike one of the tomato growers fired a family of seven workers for wearing huelga buttons. Tom Dalzell of the UFW's Legal Dept. demanded that the grower rehire the family and pay them for the work they lost or pay them for the remainder of the season even though they would not actually work. Since the family had joined the picket line and pulled out three crews the grower didn't want them back, so each of the seven workers was paid over $500, the equivalent of what their wages would be to the end of the season, for not working.

Nearly all the migrants have left the area. Only local people and some illegals are working.

GALLO STRIKE - Gallo has been able to bring in large numbers of strikebreakers. The work force numbered between 250-280 on Friday, Sept. 20 and was down to 204 on Saturday, Sept. 21, but by Monday, Gallo had 480 strikebreakers. A pattern seems to be developing. UFW organizers and strikers convince the workers to join the strike during the week, and Gallo, through its contractors, recruits large numbers of strikebreakers on the weekends. This of course makes the Gallo boycott all the more important. (For additional information about Gallo see the enclosed memos on the illegals.)

*NOTE - For ad mentioned in the Yuma Report, see the illegals memo.

UNITED FARM WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO
p.o. box 62, Keene, CA 93531
(805) 822-5571

TO: ALL BOYCOTT CITIES & VOLUNTEER COMMITTEES
FROM: Boycott Information
DATE: September 27, 1974
RE: UNION GRAPES -

A small grape grower with a UFW contract now has grapes on the market. The company is William Smeds & Sons and the label is Diamond S. Smeds' first harvest was just finished, he will be harvesting again in a week or so. All William Smeds & Sons grapes have a UFW eagle on the box.

WD/avc

RE: PAPAL SUPPORT

The Pope has given what we consider his tacit endorsement of the boycott. Cesar met with the Pope at the Vatican this week and the Pope told him, "I know of your work and I thank you for it. Your effort to help farm workers is very important and you must continue working in this field."

We will send out the complete text of the Pope's remarks as soon as we get it. Needless to say, the Pope's unprecedented involvement in the boycott is a tremendous boost to the struggle and a severe setback to the grower-Teamster axis.

WD: ms

Courtesy of the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project

 

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