Citation
The wrath of grapes

Material Information

Title:
The wrath of grapes
Series Title:
This week in history
Creator:
Castro, Richard T.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Richard T. Castron
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
This Week In History
"The Wrath of Grapes" by
Richard Castro
On July 29, 1970, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC), headed by Cesar Chavez and 26 Delano grape growers, signed a contract agreement which ended a 5 year boycott of table grapes.
The purpose of the boycott was to force grape growers to bargain with the UFWOC in terms of minimum wages for farmworkers,
enforcement of the standard working conditions prescribed by State law, and recognition of the (UFWOC) as bargaining agent for
farmworkers.
State and national political leaders, notably Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown and Robert Kennedy, played an important part in the strike movement from its inception. Support also came from various labor leaders, union organizations, and prominent Americans like Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most important, however, was Chavez's strategy of always viewing and presenting the strike as a moral issue, thereby appealing to the American conscience. His strategy allowed urban dwellers to join in an effort to support and promote basic human rights for rural migratory farmworkers.
/ y
People like Alfredo and Juanita Herrera and their children were sent to Denver by Chavez, to organize the boycott effort in our


2
in our community. They used a small home located on the Near
Westside as a base for the operation. From this location they organized rallys and public education forums. Many of us began wearing "boycott grapes" buttons to demonstrate our support for this effort, and for the first time, began to picket and march in front of grocery chains to protest the treatment of migratory workers.
The boycott brought to an end the growers assumption that agricultural workers were a happy, contented lot who did not want the befefits of union organization.
Since the signing of the contract with the growers in 1970, the UFWOC has had some measured successes. In the mid 70's, the California legislature passed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act and established a commission to oversee and guarantee farmworker rights. Chavez and the UFWOC was primarily responsible for this progressive legislation.
However, in recent years there has been a weakening of the Act through the appointment by the Governor of California of conservative members to the commission. Farmwrokers are again being forced to work in unsafe and hazardous conditions. Chavez has reissued a request that consumers join with the UFWOC and boycott table grapes until the agribusiness industry stops using deadly pesticides that are a danger to workers and consumers alike.
I would like to include in this article a portion of an editorial written by Chavez that recently appeared in the May issue of the "Food


3
and Justice Newspaper;"
"We are in midst of a major toxic disaster in the farming communities of California. . . . children are dying; babies are
born deformed; farm workers are poisoned and the rest of us wait to see how much pesticide residue is too much for human consumption.
Farm workers and environmentalists have issued repeated warnings. But, California agribusiness keeps dumping millions of pounds of poisons on the land and on our food.
For three harvest seasons we have appealed to grape growers to stop using the most dangerous pesticides and to join us in testing for pesticide residues. They flatly refuse.
The chain stores are a vital link in the food supply. They can insist that the growers market only safe food. They can refuse to handle California table grapes until growers clean up their act. Together, we can make it happen."
If you would like more information about the Grape Boycott, or if you would like to donate to the UFWOC in support of this effort, you can do so by writing to: Cesar Chavez, P.O, Box 62, at Keene, California
93531-9989. Viva La Huelga!


Full Text

PAGE 1

This Week In History "The Wrath of Grapes" by Richard Castro On July 29, 1970, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC), headed by Cesar Chavez and 26 Delano grape growers, signed a contract agreement which ended a 5 year boycott of table grapes. The purpose of the boycott was to force grape growers to bargain with the UFWOC in terms of minimum wages for farmworkers, enforcement of the standard working conditions prescribed by State law, and recognition of the (UFWOC) as bargaining agent for farmworkers. State and national political leaders, notably Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown and Robert Kennedy, played an important part in the strike movement from its inception. Support also came from various labor leaders, union organizations, and prominent Americans like Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most important, however, was Chavez's strategy of always viewing and presenting the strike as a moral issue, thereby appealing to the American conscience. His strategy allowed urban dwellers to join in an effort to support and promote basic human rights for rural migratory farmworkers. People like Alfredo and Juanita Herrera and their children were sent to Denver by Chavez, to organize the boycott effort in our

PAGE 2

2 in our community. They used a small home located on the Near Westside as a base for the operation. From this location they organized rallys and public education forums. Many of us began wearing "boycott grapes" buttons to demonstrate our support for this effort, and for the first time, began to picket and march in front of grocery chains to protest the treatment of migratory workers. The boycott brought to an end the growers assumption that agricultural workers were a happy, contented lot who did not want the befefits of union organization. Since the signing of the contract with the growers in 1970, the UFWOC has had some measured successes. In the mid 70's, the California legislature passed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act and established. a commission to oversee and guarantee farm worker rights. Chavez and the UFWOC was primarily responsible for this progressive legislation. However, in recent years there has been a weakening of the Act through the appointment by the Governor of California of conservative members to the commission. Farmwrokers are again being forced to work in unsafe and hazardous conditions. Chavez has reissued a request that consumers join with the UFWOC and boycott table grapes until the agribusiness industry stops using deadly pesticides that are a danger to workers and consumers alike. I would like to include in this article a portion of an editorial written by Chavez that recently appeared in the May issue of the "Food

PAGE 3

3 and Justice Newspaper; 11 "We are in midst of a major toxic disaster in the farming communities of California. children are dying; babies are born deformed; farm workers are poisoned and the rest of us wait to see how much pesticide residue is too much for human consumption. Farm workers and environmentalists have warnings. But, California agribusiness keeps of pounds of poisons on the land and on our food. issued repeated dumping millions For three harvest seasons we have appealed to grape growers to stop using the most dangerous pesticides and to join us in testing for pesticide residues. They flatly refuse. The chain stores are a vital link in the food supply. They can insist that the growers market only safe food. They can refuse to handle California table grapes until growers clean up their act. Together, we can make it happen." If you would like more information about the Grape Boycott, or if you would like to donate to the UFWO C in support of this effort, you can do so by writing to: Cesar Chavez, P. 0, Box 62, at Keene, California 93531-9989. Viva La Huelga!