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A letter from Bob Mathias to Susan Drake

Title: A letter from Bob Mathias to Susan Drake
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In this document, U.S. Rep. Bob Mathias (R-San Joaquin Valley) expresses his disapproval of the current labor activities being conducted by the farm workers union. The letter dated August 15, 1968, was issued at the height of the consumer boycott, an action that the United Farm Workers (UFW) adopted to draw more national attention to the ongoing Delano grape strike. Mathias strongly opposed labor activism, instead believing firmly in the benefits of laissez faire capitalism. Susan Samuels Drake—wife of Jim Drake, who was affiliated with the pro-farm workers' California Migrant Ministries—joined the fledgling union in 1962, later serving as César Chávez's personal secretary from 1970-1973.

August 15, 1968

Susan Samuels Drake
621 Lexington
Delano, California

Dear Susan,

Thank you very much for your recent, thought-provoking letter relative to the current controversy in the grape industry. I greatly appreciate you giving me the benefit of your views on this subject.

As you may know, I have taken a strong stand against the boycott of California table grapes by cities such as New York and Detroit, inasmuch as the pressure brought to bear on our industry, and the reduction of the grape market, jeopardizes the welfare of both grower and worker alike. I would much prefer to see the internal State relations between workers and growers free from the immense pressures of external structures. So far in our state history, this combination of worker-grower efforts has produced the most productive land in the world, and the highest paid agricultural workers in the world.

I realize that one of the most difficult tasks is understanding an issue as complex as this one is to separate the fact from the emotionalism and propaganda with seek to cloud the issue. I have spent much time interviewing the workers and the growers to determine exactly what the facts are, and I have compared their answers to the official wage and production figures of the Government. I have carefully studied the National Labor Relations Act and the Anti-Trust provisions of our Federal laws, which seek to prevent the use of unfair pressure from either side. And I have reviewed the opinions of those interested persons from my District, who have written to me about this matter. You may be assured that I will continue my efforts to preserve an atmosphere of free bargaining. Thank you again so much for your letter.

Bob Mathias
U.S. Congressman

Courtesy of the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project


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