¡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 6 (Part 4)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 6 (Part 4)
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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.

These documents from March 1972 cover United Farm Workers (UFW)-sponsored demonstrations against the Republican Party in San Antonio, Boston, New York, and San Diego. The aim of the protests was to draw attention to anti-labor Republican policies, particularly those of the Richard Nixon administration.

In a memo dated March 16, 1972, the FBI's field office in San Antonio cited a confidential source regarding a UFW protest scheduled to take place that afternoon at the Bexar County Republican Party headquarters. Demonstrators planned to protest against four Nixon appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which had made a recent ruling against labor. NLRB chair Edward Miller—whom Nixon appointed in 1970 over opposition from labor on the grounds that Miller was pro-management—sued the UFW for its secondary boycott against sellers of grapes, lettuce, and wine from non-union sources. In a subsequent memo dated March 17, the FBI reported that 30 individuals participated in the protest, where the UFW passed out a leaflet charging the Republican Party for "making an effort to destroy our union."

The source in the San Antonio memo reported that similar demonstrations were to take place in more than 25 NLRB regions in the United States. In Boston, the FBI reported on a protest at the Republican State Committee headquarters, where demonstrators held signs bearing such slogans as "Republican Party is Against Working People" and "Republicans Only Take Care of the Wealthy Because the Wealthy Take Care of the Republicans." At a demonstration at the San Diego Republican Party headquarters, approximately 200 protesters picketed peacefully from 8:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.

In a memo dated March 17, the FBI reported that the UFW was planning to protest the appearance of Vice President Spiro Agnew at the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick's annual dinner to be held at the Americana Hotel in New York City. According to a source, a UFW spokesperson stated that due to the NLRB suit, which was made possible by Nixon appointees, the union would confront Republican Party representatives or candidates wherever they appeared nationwide. UFW efforts led the NLRB to drop the suit two months later in exchange for a UFW agreement to stop its secondary boycott against small wineries.

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