tv Delano Grape Strike CSPAN October 25, 2015 10:32pm-12:02am EDT
the key to this gallery is that starting in march of 1944, we begin to wrestle control of the air away from the luftwaffe, and only if we can gain control of the air can we launch the normandy invasion on d-day. we do not know what that day is going to be yet in the plans, but it will turn out to be three months to the day after march 6, 1944, berlin raid. >> 1944. [indiscernible] >> join american history tv on saturday for tours and live interviews from the national world war ii museum in new orleans. we will explore the road to
berlin and the african american story and take your questions or historians joining us throughout the day. world war ii -- 70 years later -- live from the national world war ii museum, saturday, november 7, beginning at 11:00 a.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span3. >> next, lorraine agtang, who participated in the 1965 delano grape strike, joins a panel of historians to discuss its history and legacy as well as the early days of the farmworkers movement. california state university bakersfield and bakersfield college cohosted this event. it's about 90 minutes.
mr. asher: the next portion of our program is a panel discussion on the history and legacy of the grape strike. it is an honor to have with us one of the heroes of the strike, ms. lorraine agtang. they started the strike in 1965. lorraine and her family lived for years in the same farm labor camp outside delano. she was 13 when the strike began. when it was won in 1970, she and her family proudly went to work under union contract. they walked out on strike again in 1973. she was the first manager of the retirement village you saw in this film near delano that the farmworkers movement built for elderly and displaced filipino farmworkers in 1974.
in 1975, with the passage of the agricultural labor relations act, lorraine organized farmworkers from multiple ethnicities for the first secret ballot state conducted union elections. she has been a dedicated activist with the farmworker movement ever since and continues to work to tell the story of the contributions to the movement. next is dawn, an associate professor of history at san francisco state university. she received an m.a. in asian american studies from ucla and a phd in history from stanford. her research focuses on filipino-american history, historic and cultural preservation, and filipino-american foodways. she's the author of "little manila: the art of making a filipino community in stockton,
california," which was awarded an honorable mention for the frederick jackson turner award. she is working on a biography of the labor leader we just saw a film about. dr. mario sifuentes is a professor at the university of california merced who earned his phd in american studies at brown university. he was a generation college first student from a farm working background. his first book, "by forest and by fields," tells the story of mexican immigrant workers in the agricultural and therefore restation- refo industry in the pacific northwest. he teaches courses in food history, labor history, and
immigrant history. he's the founder of the oregon history project and is currently curating a museum exhibit on the 10th anniversary of you see merced -- u.c. merced. rounding out our panel is dr. todd holmes, a historian and researcher with the bill lane center, for the american west at stanford. he earned a bachelors and masters degree from california state university sacramento and completed his phd at yale. he's the award-winning author of numerous publications on the political, economic, and environmental history of california. and the american west as well as his forthcoming book titled "the first of fracture." at stanford, he helps direct the bill lane center's rural rest -- west initiative and is the principal researcher for the center's california coastal commission project. just two final reminders, each panelist will have 15 minutes to
present. our timekeeper will inform you when you have five, and three minutes left. to the outings, i would request you silence your cellphones and be respectful to our guests. questions and answers will follow all the presentations. thank you. ms. agtang: good afternoon. like he said, i was only 13 years old when the strike again. i remember working that day in the field when there was, like, this big commotion going on and people screaming and yelling. my father said to us, "come on, we are leaving." i asked what he meant, and he said there was a strike. i had no clue what a strike meant. he was saying that the filipinos
were out on the picket lines. it was interesting to me to see them out there screaming and yelling. my experience with the filipino farmworkers are that they were pretty mild. nice guys, hard workers. they don't want to make anyone mad, especially their growers, so what was all this commotion about? from that point on, my whole life story changed. i would probably still be living in delano with seven kids working in the fields. that made an impression on me, my first exposure to civil disobedience. i was born in delano, born in the labor camp that we lived in with my six siblings. we were finally excited when
that whole period was over. i am half filipino, half mexican. the filipinos started a strike. two weeks later they knew they , could not do it alone because the mexicans were working and breaking the strike. they came and asked them to join the cause. though cesar was not quite ready, he knew that this was the time. if they did not get together then, they were never going to get together. i remember as a kid sneaking into filipino hall, how great it was for me personally to see the meetings with the filipinos in the blush and -- to see the meetings with the filipinos and
the mexicans and workers working together for a common cause. historically, growers pitted the workers against each other. i remember them telling us that mexican worker crews were picks -- were picking more boxes of grapes than we were, so people work harder to catch up with them. out in the community, they did not have parties together. seeing them in filipino hall just made me a whole person, finally. to see them working together. when the 1973 strike began, i -- that is when i got involved politically. i was working and went out on strike again, and that's when the boycott began.
a man was killed and then the boycott began. i went to work with farmworkers because i had a family and could not boycott. many families did join the boycott. manolo's went on the boycott. they had never been out in the field. and now they were in in new york as chicago asking every day americans not to eat grapes in front of the market. who knew that five years later, many people in the united states were not eating grapes, and it hit the pocketbooks of many of those growers. they finally signed the contract. those men were already old. those guys never were going to go back to work. that was one of the things they always said.
we are not going to go back to work because they were old. , my job being the first manager was to go out to the labor camp to try to talk filipinos into retiring and come out to the village. have you ever tried to talk a filipino into retiring? ugh. [laughter] ms. agtang: because that's all they knew, was to work. they worked and died in the labor camps. there were stories of people finding money in their mattresses. like my uncle, who never really learned how to speak english. they lived in a labor camp a quarter-mile from us. them, they did not get married. it was against the law for them to marry. by the time they could, they were old. they were hurt. they were jilted. they were not going to get married.
he offered them a safe place to die in dignity. i first had gone to work with the clinics, so i like seeing those pictures of the 40 acres, the clinic, and the service center. when people needed help applying for social security, any other they of paper they needed, had doctors 24 hours, like my friend over there says. this was like a five-star hotel for them. they had a filipino cook. tony arlington was a cook. they had their gardens, and people from all over california would come and visit them. actually, it was a labor of love, built by labor people and
by college students from san diego to san francisco, and they would come on the weekends to help build it. they grow attached to them. tomorrow is the big celebration at 40 acres. a lot of them will be there tomorrow. they loved the men. proud,ere strong, hard-working men that taught us all so much about how to be able to stand up. it took me years to understand they were standing up for what they wanted when they had not before that. then, in 1975 when the agricultural labor relations act
was passed providing for secret ballot elections, i had the opportunity to go out and organize. and by then, we were organizing puerto ricans, arabs. there were workers from all over the world that can to work on the grapes. and it was a great time. i have always been an activist. , iave always represented came to the capital of sacramento to receive an award for representing filipino workers, and for rob, when he had taken av 123 to add to history the filipino strikers in
the history books. 123.tified on behalf of av and i tell young people you have to get active in your community, and you have to work with everyone in your community. unless you do that, you are not going to get anything done. you have got to find out what the needs are of everyone at the table. and together, you've got to have each other's back to get what you want. thank you. [applause] any questions? yes. >> i just want to make a clarification before the panel goes on any further. in looking at the history of the filipino workers, they have an organization called agricultural
workers association that was founded in stockton, california, under -- dolores was working with the cso at the time, and that is how the organization was founded. cso went on to organize in other areas and awa continued. they would have their crew boxes would negotiate with the rays would be for pay. in 1965 when they went to coachella to negotiate the rate they wanted, they got it. , thethey came to delano growers would not give them the pay raise they wanted. mr. asher: she wants to make her presentation on the topic you are talking about. we want to wait until -- >> i'm not going to get into a lot of detail about awa --
mr. asher: we will have a conversation after the panel is finished. >> there was a mistake that i want to address. basically, when they went to ise, they did ra not get it. so their history was if they did not get the raise, they would do a work stoppage, and that is what happened in 1965. in 1968 when they did the work stoppage, dolores was at the meeting where they voted for it. it took several days. it was not two weeks, and it was not that the farmworkers were breaking the strike because it was a work stoppage. they wanted to see if the growers were going to give them their pay increase, and they did not. so that's when the swa decided to join the strike eight days , later. csoas one of the early
organizers and can also probably talk about what was going on. thank you. that's all i wanted to say. [applause] >> i've got a question. ms. mabalon: good afternoon, everyone. i want to say what an honor it is to be with all of you and thank you to dean asher for inviting me to be part of this event. i want to begin with a quote from philip veracruz. how many of you have read this book? my classmate is one of the editors of the book, so i want to give him props for this. [applause]
ms. mabalon: in the book, vera cruz says this. "our role in the union has not been written and sometimes intentionally deleted because the anglos who wrote the story did not know all the facts and we did not speak up." i just want to say what a privilege and honor it has been to be a historian of the filipino american experience and try to piece together the story of the filipino americans in the united states and the filipino role in the united farmworkers movement. i want to give a back story. i'm going to go to september 8. we can talk about what happens after the nsw in the q&a in the succeeding panels, but i want to give a little more context about filipino american labor organizing. thank you, lori, for talking
about awa, which i will talk about as well. when the strike began, one of the strikers talked to a local reporter and this is what he said. "for more than 30 years, i have been in strikes in the yield. i think we are going to win this one, that whether or not we win the growers will know they have , been in one hell of a fight." i want to talk about militancy , discipline, the long history of filipino american union organizing that brings us to that moment september 7, 1965, in filipino hall in delano. to understand the story, we need to go to 1898 in which they become a colony of the united states and the hawaiian sugar planters association begins to recruit filipinos into the sugar plantations. other asian workers were excluded from emigrating to
hawaii because it was a territory of the united states. when the recruiters went to the central and northern part of the philippines they look , specifically for workers who were illiterate. they wanted to make sure these were workers who would not try to organize. many thousands of filipinos wanted to go to this fabled land called america that their teachers are told them about. many of them lied. they were illiterate. their american educators had told them about something called a labor union. kind of ironic, right? empire is funny that way. i want to start with the sugar plantation workers in hawaii, who come over in 1906 and start to come by the thousands. this man, a self-educated lawyer, begins to organize. in 1920, he leads the filipino workers on strike. they lose. in 1924, he also leads filipino
workers on strike, and they lose. these are the strike leaders. in this town in the island of hawaii, 17 filipinos are shot dead by police when they are out on strike. this is a terrible and violent strike. again, another strike that filipinos lose. the hspa does not take any more chances. they blacklist those who had been on the plantations. where else will they go? many of the strike leaders come to california and begin to work in the fields and also start organizing. in this labor migration cycle -- i will just go over this very briefly -- from february to june, from the 1920's through the 1960's and 1970's, the filipinos are working asparagus, in the stockton area. and that's where my roots are.
the daughter and granddaughter of farmworkers. from june to august, many of the workers are working in the alaskan salmon canneries. from august 2 october, they are working grapes. november to january, they are pruning. or it is a season they take off. these filipino workers are working under brutal conditions. racial violence, rigid segregation. this is the famous positively no filipinos allowed sign in stockton. "look" magazine in 1946. in a way to survive this very brutal work, particularly asparagus, in which they are and -- bent over 10 to 12 hours a day, they begin to work in crews under contractors and are to -- starting to innovate like
working by the piece or by the pound, and depending upon the contractor, for much of their needs for advances in pay and finding them jobs. the contractor system later on in the history of united farmworkers will be something kind of controversial, especially as we get into the history of the hiring hall, and we can talk about that later on. filipinos also are working in the alaskan salmon cannery. in 1933, filipinos start a union there, which becomes local seven, and that union is actually still in existence now. many of the leaders of the agricultural workers organizing committee came out of the alaskan salmon cannery union. local seven was known as one of the most radical unions in the entire labor landscape. so radical that they were kicked out of the cio right after world war ii because so many of their leaders were either communist or accused of being communist. these were the founders of the
camry workers and farm laborers union. larry came to the united states at the age of 15 in 1930. he became vice president and dispatcher of this union. amongst other labor organizing activities, he goes on strike. he organizes sardine workers in san pedro and becomes a leader in this union. the leaders of the cannery workers union were murdered in 1934. much of this labor history is marred by violence. leaders protecting themselves against police violence, against violence from employers, from other contractors, etc. so the leaders are murdered. at about the same time, filipinos working in the lettuce fields in salinas form the filipino labor union and go on
strike in 1934. this strike is also brutal and broken, but amongst the veterans of this strike are people like chris, who becomes a leader in the alaskan salmon cannery union and becomes a mentor of sorts for many filipino labor organizers. in 1939, asparagus workers in stockton form a union called the filipino agricultural laborers association. many leaders are people like chris, larry. they were also members of the alaskan salmon cannery union. by this filipinos had gone on point, dozens of work stoppages and strikes throughout california and the west coast. many had been trained by communist organizers working in the cannery and agricultural workers industrial union. by this point, the farmers knew that filipinos were among the most organized, militant, and
disciplined strikers in all of american labor not just , agriculture. in 1939 on good friday, 5000 filipino-american asparagus workers walked off the fields in stockton, crippling the easter sunday harvest. in a day, the growers capitulate. filipinos know if they all walk off the fields together militantly, organized, that they can win. when they do this on september 7, you have to understand this is all about this longer history of how filipinos are walking off and winning in certain instances. this is a meeting of the filipino agricultural laborers association. that union actually dies by world war ii. most of the men in that union joined the military and there is a no strike pledge, and when
they come back, they are red baited. many of them, pretty much, stopped farm labor organizing with the exception of one union, that radical they decided to start organizing in the fields, and why not? before they come to work salmon, they were working asparagus in stockton. this is a meeting right after world war ii of local seven. you can see larry right here. you can see chris also here in the photograph. they are planning a huge asparagus strike in stockton for 1948. this is the strike. 5000 again asparagus workers walk off the field in stockton. philip vera cruz -- this is the first-ever strike he has participated in. unfortunately, they lose. the community is split. they are red baited.
in they win some concessions, 1949, but essentially, that union dies. this is a building in stockton's little manila where that union was headquartered. essentially, they get red baited. they are accused of being communist, and everyone essentially has to lay low. folks emerging out of the union, essentially they no longer are organizing because of the fbi surveillance. however, larry continues to organize and he settles in stockton. and one of his friends who had been a leader in the strikes, they begin to meet with an
organization called awa, led by thomas mcauliffe. he was a priest at st. mary's church. they also put pressure on the aclu to start organizing farmworkers and that was the agricultural workers organizing committee. andg the first organizers, this is a larry about the time that awa was organized. he started organizing and stockton, but very quickly they realize how valuable he is and he gets sent to delano to organize workers from there. working by him is al green, and ben gines. this is a whole another history we can talk about later. but in may, 1965, there is a
strike in coachella. hundreds of strikers, about 500 members walk off the field and made demand a dollar 45 in our, but many are arrested. they get $1.45, that they do not get a contract. but the growers work out a contract where charges are dropped against those sitting in jail for the $1.45 an hour. then september 7, in delano, and in many ways a film picks up this story and talks about the filipinos who decide that they will talk about $1.45 an hour and they walk off on september
mr. sifuentes: ok, some problems with the screen, but i will get started. my talk is entitled, "the foundations of modern workers -- " i wanted to take us out of central valley to talk about the ramifications of organizing and how it spread to other organizations across the u.s. this is coming from portions of my book called the forests and fields, labor in the pacific northwest. the story begins in mount angel oregon. this was an experimental four-year university that was meant to marry the real-life
learning and real-life knowledge that farmworkers and immigrants had and match it with your traditional college learning. many people had no idea this existed, but at its inception it was a very radical approach to education and it was the first chacon of serving -- chicano serving school in the u.s.. very many people working on it, including the founder of the -- party. and perhaps it is most famous for its alum, bill walton. the school itself was a mixed bag, it was successful at times, graduated 26 chicanos in its first year. so it did have moments of
success, unfortunately there was a lot of financial mismanagement and other things that took place that caused the university to close down 10 years later in 1983. the reason that it is important for what we are talking about today is not just its namesake, but one of the most famous alums, is a guy name -- who was born in delano, grew up there and went to oregon to go to college. when he got to oregon, he
discovered there was a place called colegio de chavez. the picture we would show here is of him and his friends. here we go. [applause] mr. sifuentes: this is the cover of the book that will come out soon. this is the poster of colegio chavez, they tried to close the school down several times, so this is a picture of a rally in which they are try to keep the school open. you can see the buries -- berets here. now, when he went to the school, he met up with under -- other individuals, a guy from chicago and they got together and talked about some of the things going on in oregon at the time that they were experiencing, a number of raids, workplace raids, home raids, and deporting people from the pacific northwest.
and he himself, having a connection to the usw, felt like he needed to do something, said he got a group together and they formed an organization called the valley organization. he was very committed to organizing. first of all, very committed to undocumented immigrants, as you can see, this is an early flyer that says, basically, telling people with or without documents you have rights. started to work in the community in different capacities, they would go to ins and try to convince people not to sign voluntary departure forms and they formed these study groups where they would study immigration law and try to
figure out what was the appropriate way or best way to go ahead and stop the deportations -- start slowing those down. back in those days, you could do immigration law with certain certifications and with that you can go before immigration courts and challenge the deportation of various individuals. so one of the things that they did was try to find new legal strategy for keeping the ins from deporting workers. what they came across was the idea that because immigration law and being undocumented is not a criminal offense, it is a civil offense, some of those typical kind of legal defenses that defendants have do not apply to immigrants, so there is no, no protection against illegal search and seizure. there is no protection against
sort of having a lawyer present, these things do not exist in the typical civil proceedings, so they did not apply to immigration proceedings, but the one i did apply that they started to use -- that did apply, was the ability to not self incriminate. it would work in immigration court. so this is what they theorized when they began to me and they finally got agent to practice that in court. 1980 in a case they actually were proven right by the immigration court, the immigrants did not have to identify themselves as undocumented, they had the right to remain silent, the right to not self incriminate. this becomes the basis of their immigration law practice, they start to do various flyers, they get organized, they have
workshops, they have clinics, where they are telling undocumented immigrants, you do not have to incriminate yourself, do not say anything, call us, we will have that fight for you. so this is in the 1980's, they start working the immigration rights and in communities and what they discover ultimately is that even if we keep doing this work, at the end of the day there will still be people exploited at work. so what will we do? we cannot just be an organization, we need to be a union. so they decided a brilliant maneuver, after 1984, when immigration reform act is passed, there is a whole host of immigrants already trust them and say, what do we do now? we do not understand how to apply for citizenship, we don't understand if we are eligible,
what do we do? so any stroke of genius, they said, we will do all the paperwork, help you become citizens, but you have to be a member of the union. this is where they began the basis of the union, which i will talk about later, but it still exists today and it is an incredible force in the northwest. so you see here a picture of larry, second from the left, with his first class of citizens. since they are all undocumented farmworkers, working in the portland area, they get citizenship and become the first members of the union. it was tree planters and farmworkers northwest united. in 1986, a couple of years after that, they have a convention, larry is on the far left.
and they get support obviously from the fw. although they sort of differ on politics at the time, serving in the usw, these were intricate part of getting the organization off the ground. they would come regularly to talk to different organizers and offer advice and they consistently picked the brains of chavez and other leaders. so, they begin organizing in the field in oregon, and at that time, they had one of the most anti-labor laws in the country. there were anti-thickening laws,
laws against laws for registering union organizers, all sorts of obstacles to the process of organizing, so one of the first things they do is file a lawsuit to get rid of a law that outlaws picketing by non-workers on a particular target. so once that law is overturned in 1989, the next year they launch their first major agricultural strike in the history of oregon. so organizers had no large-scale organized strikes and tell this moment -- until this moment in 1990. this is what i described in my book, in great detail, but i think one of the most important things to remember or know about this is that, they took this unique approach to organizing
workers. they fully embraced the social movement aspect of what they did, they began organizing across various different unions, social movements, religious organizations and in addition to that, they started to see union success in a different way than just measuring contracts, which is a lesson they learned from the usw. so from this particular strike, the growers refused to negotiate a contract and they did not earn a contract, so it they decided to do was have a rent strike. they took over this camp, they named it after the first president of mexico, and what you should remember here also is that by the 1990's, the majority of immigrants in oregon or
indigenous. so they become a flexible organization and one thing they do is they start to higher indigenous organizers to speak indigenous languages and work with indigenous communities, so mrs. -- this is a symbolic moment for many indigenous workers. again, this is another photo, kind of the oregon version of the contract signing, the first signed in oregon, there is the
president there and what continues to be dynamic about this organization is that they, for instance, this is a trilingual radio station that speaks to various farmworkers in the portland area and they call it the people's radio, they talk about if there is a strike going on, a movement going on, if there is community organizing going on, all of these things, this is the mass media for them. so the other thing that they took seriously to finish up for today, they have taken over the idea of leadership. so, understanding that larry, ramon, and -- played a role in the organizing, they started to worry about what would happen when they were gone. this was precipitated by a member's death in 1985. so they start thinking about this and they start organizing
and fundraising to create what they call a leadership institute. so they train young children of the farmworkers and of people and other organizers, to be organizers and activists. one of the most recent graduates of the leadership institute, the child of a farm worker, is running for candidacy this year. so this is the vision they are having, this is a labor union, but it is a much bigger kind of holistic approach to organizing, community organizing. and seeing leadership in the past, understanding that this moment can die with them if they do not do something like this.
this event and celebration. i want to start by thanking the organizers here for these wonderful events that have been organized the past few days. it is a privilege. today, i will wrap things up. it has been a great panel. i want to do so actually by taking the different things and -- there we go, we have heard many of these today about activism and movement on the ground. i want to take a broader look to see how this activism on the
ground affected things at the top. i want to hit on two of the political economic legacies, to impacts i will focus on. i really started my work with, what is a movement challenge? this also gets to the other question of what affects the challenge had on california and national politics? today a will discuss this in three parts to try to flesh out the process for you. this is a challenge to business, economic challenges, but we also look at this as agro business. what i want to show today is the ripple effect, the economic effects that were much larger
and the challenge of the tightknit structure within california that i call the corporate west. in this light, what we see is this is not just the most successful agricultural movement, but also the most significant challenge to american business in the 20th century. and when there is a challenge to business, there is a challenge to politics. and this process of what i want to discuss is how the political center actually broke and what you have is both parties contracting to the fringes. this is not new for students of politics or participants of politics, but we usually describe this with the democrats going left and democrats -- republicans going right. we talk about civil rights and the vietnam war, but i what to show this political center, the hidden root of that shift. the challenge to business was so important. and the result of it, lastly what i will speak on, reaganism. it was forced after a boycott campaign, is the first labor dispute that reagan confronted
and it caused -- and offers the best definition for what reaganism is. this is corporate conservatism. conservatism that we can better describe with it business oriented agenda, it actually uses the tools of government for those to protect and foster the interest of business. so if we get started, the corporate west, i like this picture, it is very pink floyd. it is fitting for the era. you understand -- if you want to understand the movement, you need to understand the structure of the economy. the california economy actually look like this. an early part, you have these for areas. of course, after one or two, we would add something to that and later on we would have this balloon into a massive primary industry known as silicon valley, that is over where i
work. each pillar, you have these corporations that would dominate, these are the homes of bank of america and wells fargo, chevron, southern california, boeing, douglas, sp railroad and more important, these are not just economic sectors, this is a tightly interwoven community, they shared board of directors, investments and all of them had invested interest in california agriculture. by 1970, 1 in three jobs was linked with that. and here is a list of those investments, just a partial list. this is again what i want to keep in mind when we think about boycott, the ripple effect, these effects that stand out, this is beyond grapes.
more important, in our current discussion about agriculture, here is the multiplier that they keep missing come agriculture is still only 2% of gdp. a factor this in, but another zero behind. this is referencing my discussions on water at stanford with water lawyers. the political structure that actually underpinned this, believe it or not, this at one time resonate with both republicans and democrats. this is a fancy economic term that we can describe as bipartisan balance, the balanced the interest of social reform on one hand and business on the other. we see this early in the century, this is modern, this is the progressives. earl warren, as well as rockefeller.
we would see this on the democrats, this is after fdr. you see lyndon johnson there. one thing we missed, right before the movement, you had a landslide victory by lbj and we usually associate him with civil rights, the great society, this is the war on poverty. he beat conservatives, he had a backing of business. most of the nations distances were behind that texan. but that was about to change. and it changes again when we look at challenges to business and it started with ufw and their boycott. most of us know the story. we saw industries by 1948, all california great -- grapes. it is not just the fruit, but also the stores that sold them. this is right behind the
movement, also pesticides, it goes international, canada, the philippines, mexico. and this is what really gives the power behind this, the la causa coalition. you will not find a more diverse coalition ever in american history. they used as a 20th century, but you are not find in this anywhere. usually i like to call this as hippie housewives and hardhats, but it is fancy alliteration for that gripping -- grouping. it is civil rights groups, religious groups come across all faiths. religious groups across all faiths. as well as you're white, middle and upper class housewives. 1966, the march on sacramento.
this is the first time you see this sort of dynamic coalition. we see this nation wide. you can look at some of these pictures and on no other front in the 1960's, would these people be standing next to one another. we can look at the strategies that kept this coalition together. very fragile. very difficult to do. that is one of the lessons we can learn from this. this gave the boycott the economic edge. in the late 1960's, and the 1970's, this organization such as the u.s. chamber of commerce.
how will we deal with these boycotts? they characterized it as consumerism. this is the number one threat to business as they would call it. we would see this spread. general electric. throughout the 1960's and 1970's. again, when you have a threat to business, that will trickle down to the political arena. we see this especially heading democrats from the start. the confluence of race, and industry. you're going to have to choose. business or labor. you can no longer have both. we see this in the 1966 election between brown and ronald reagan. brown, just like lyndon johnson and other democrats, first of all, they tried to stop the movement with silence. farmworkers. don't worry about it. it didn't. he navigated that middle ground between business and labor masterfully for decades. the movement was not going to
let cap off of the hook. they put the pressure on. they met him at every campaign rally. they would do the cartoons saying -- come on pat, stop wavering. pat brown does lose. we see that what started with at ram, it it would spread throughout the entire democratic race. they were in favor of labor and social movements. we see this again in 1960, spearheaded by bobby kennedy. he spearheads this on a national level. hubert humphrey. he marches through the financial district of san francisco. if you want to send a message into the corporate west, you marched through the financial district of san francisco. by 1970, this is complete.
big daddy has a relationship with business. money is the mother's milk of politics. this changes by 1970. he wages a popular campaign in california. by 1972, when ted kennedy is up there greeting his fellow boycotters, support for the boycott campaign was written into the national platform of the democratic party. they no longer had a place within the democratic already, so they moved right. i can only touch on it briefly due to time but when businesses come into the republican party and consolidate, it is not a smooth trajectory. you have factions within the gop. liberals. and dare i say, you also had moderates. we can touch on these later on.
the important thing here is to realize that business consolidated behind ronald reagan. that should not be a surprise. this was at the heart of his political career from the beginning. you see that right here in the regionally. these were his advisers. they would run the famed kitchen cabinets rough his governorship and when he went to washington, they came with him. under the new name of the presidential advisory committee. he spoke with ronald reagan every day on the phone. it was not just about providing money. the actually formed a group that hand selected everything a person that would be in his administration. foxes in the hen house. many were tapped to go and regulate the industry they came
from. former vice president of the bank of america becomes the head of agriculture. you had businessman for the first time in decades in california lead the department of labor. we would see this with welfare and the office of equal opportunity and for the bill payers in the room, your public utilities commission was stocked full of investors in pg&e and southern pacific railroad. we see reaganism in action. corporate conservatism. we see this against the u.s. department of labor that certifies all of the labor disputes.
reagan vetoes and unemployment insurance bill for farmworkers three times during his governorship. while at the same time he is increasing state spending on agriculture. he vetoes the rural assistance program. more importantly, he spearheaded the opposition to the ufw. we saw this in some of the video earlier. he calls chavez of failure and he likes eating grapes, the forbidden fruit. lastly, he coordinated the efforts. they pumped out reams of anti-ufw literature. the build distributed to 25 other states that we would see passed in 1972. it gives you that -- in arizona. kansas, idaho where we get a boycott of idaho potatoes. this is where i will begin to wrap up reagan's governorship -- you see a lot of it. the ufw shows you how corporate conservatism starts to work. the largest tax increase in the history -- his war against the ufw and other unions describing
the foreshadowing of what we would see with him as president. reagan's government helps the rich, god helps rest of us. the most important political affect you would see the ufw movement have come it did delineate on that political spectrum. whose interests will it serve? business? that is an important delineation that no other movement actually did and it is something we still confront today.
[applause] mr. asher: are there questions for any of our speakers? if you do have a question, please go to the microphone because we are recording with c-span today. mr. holmes: don't be shy. >> this question is directed to anyone that wants to answer it. it has been my impression that the ufw has lost power over the last several decades. you never hear the ufw -- talk about it or publishing information about it.
membership is down. would anyone like to comment on what is causing that? >> we will let the reagan guy do it. [laughter] organizing farm labor is extremely difficult. i think anyone who works in that knows that. this is not like a union trick first book, we have to think back to the time when we had industrial unions in america. that is difficult. if you look at your united auto workers, for example, you organize someone in that union
and they would come into the workplace and they had a steady trajectory. i will move up in the work late. you don't have that in firm labor. this was not a job where people want to sit around for 15 years and move up. it was extremely difficult. you had turnover. consequences of challenging business, the business begins to mobilize like you have never seen. this is the genesis of your super pac's today. even by 1980, the u.s. chamber of commerce had a political war chest for politics of $1 million. do the calculation of 1980 -- that was huge. not even labor have that. there is a lot of difficulties. regarding the organizing. a movement of that magnitude is hard to sustain also. you can only wage boycotts for
so long before the consumer politics begins to get eroded by the egos of american consumerism itself. we get bored. we already help them in another campaign, some people think. mr. sifuentes: traditionally, the way that we would explain the deteriorating power of the ufw in relation to the state and the role that the state has played in that business has played. what is happening now as people are writing more books and doing more research in the archives, is that we are finding that there was a lot of internal reasons why this happened as well. there is a lot of ethnic
tension, very difficult things take place within the union. there is a mobilization that takes place against the ufw. there is also some missteps. we need to think about and grapple with, especially on this anniversary about some of those missteps. partially, what i was trying to convey it in my talk was that even though the reagan era and the unions in the reagan era suffered -- this is when they signed their first contract and they were successful and became one of the largest farm unions in the country. there are various reasons for that happening. i think a lot of people are now starting to write about it and
discuss what happened internally that could have been done better. >> we need to think about answering that as a filipino american role. in 1971, among the reasons that he leaves his because he feels it is an undemocratic union. this is going to be a problem that plagues the ufw internally for at least a decade after he leaves. as i have been trying to understand what happened to filipinos come it is also about what happened to the ufw as well. that is the story in there also. the scholarship that has been coming out in the last few years has helped us tremendously to understand what happened and what we need to do better in the future. particularly for filipinos, we gathered a few weeks ago where we had several labor organizers who are trying to get the
filipinos in the field -- filipinos are having major challenges organizing across the globe because we have become the home care and domestic workers of the world. how do we look at these filipino organizers -- that is also what i'm trying to do. pete velasco. mr. sifuentes: are we still doing this work? someone was asking me. there are a lot of us who are digging into the ufw archives right now. my graduate student could not be here today -- she is working on this.
one of the things that we keep in mind today is that this is only going to get bigger and have more people writing about it and we will only learn more as people are able to get into the archives and work there. we are taking on students of our own who are also doing this work. there are a lot of questions still to be answered. >> there is a lot of history -- there are a lot of people in delano involved. the percentage of people that were filipino that were there was very small. those people that are not there, do not want to have anything to do with any of them. until people go in and talk to those individuals, i have talked to some -- they have their own history. there is a lot of history there. when we take that time to go in
and look at the history, we will find out what happened on the way around, everywhere. >> it is important to show the diversity and the various movements that came off of it. one of the things that we look at when we talk about missteps and missed opportunities. nixon's proposal under the national labor relations act. there are many reasons why that was going to be difficult for agricultural workers. we get that. but what that also would have done is open up opportunities for workers of color in agriculture outside of california. also nationwide. and in other organizations. to get a foothold and try collective-bargaining.
california is still the only state that has agriculture labor relations act this is 50 years later. who does trust nixon. the 1960's campaign, bobby kennedy was working for his brother. that was a complicated issue. the california rural assistance program. that program was overridden by richard nixon. it is complicated. those are just some of the few missteps that in hindsight we can see. >> my question is primarily for don. you highlighted the militancy
and discipline and dedication of the delano firm workers i wonder if that seems to be to you a consequence of their circumstances since they were not allowed to marry. many of them were single men. did they feel they were risking or sacrificing somehow less because they did not have wives and children that they would have been not able to feed? >> in my book about stockton, i talk about filipino workers -- most of them, their wives were either in the philippines or they were not married. they were young, crazy men in their 20's and 30's. we are here for 10 years or five years. i will get rich and go home. if someone tries to come and
take my job, you shoot a scab. the first year of the great strike. there was a lot about telling filipino men to put away their guns and knives very this was supposed to be nonviolent. there were also issues about the nature of the strike and the social movement nature of the strike. these were issues that filipinos had in the ufw also. based on their long history in the labor movement. being single men organized by left-wing radicals and being communist organizers are for people that had formally been communist organizers, think about them being told that you were going to march behind a statue of the virgin mary. when i asked my dad why he did not join the ufw -- he said that was not a strike. marching behind a statue of the virgin mary. you shoot a scab. that is a strike. very militant guys. they were one of the most
radical unions before they started the great strike. they come from a tough history before they get to delano. we have these memories of these old, kind gentle men but if you push them the wrong way and you take their jobs when you are on strike, they will burn down your barn. >> i wanted to further expand on what i feel is a better answer to this gentleman's question regarding the ufw membership growth. the strike went on for five years from 1965 until 1970 when
we were able to get the grape contract. they were three-year contracts. the workers did enjoy the benefits, decent wages. health and safety regulations in the field in terms of pesticide. you had the medical plan established. the filipino brothers who had worked very hard all of their lives and were single and were able to get medical care. the contract expired in 1973. the ufw was renegotiating the grape contract, while at the same time there was organizing and people walking out on strike and wanting to join the ufw in the adjustable industry in the salinas valley. the union leadership was juggling a lot including the
renegotiations of the great contracts. at the same time, while the growers were negotiating with the ufw leadership, they were also meeting and a severed room with a teamsters union. they ended up signing three contracts with the teamsters union. that is when the second strike of 1973 started and a lot of us went out on the boycott when there were some killings in the field. thanks to our current governor, governor brown who was governor then, we got the agricultural labor relations act. there was a lot of organizing that went on in the field and the ufw did get certified with a lot of these companies. unfortunately, there was not a lot of meat in the lot in terms of forcing the growers to come to the table and bargain with the ufw in good faith area they were also committing a lot of unfair legal practices. the ufw was filing a lot of charges, unfair label practices
that went up to the state supreme court. that took a lot of years. the agriculture labor relations board was only as good as the people who the governor appointed to enforce the act. i don't know if it was a misstep of not including the agriculture workers in it because of the differences and the needs of the workers in terms of access. a lot of different things. in terms of the times of the harvest. the way the workers would follow the harvest. incorporating everything that you guys did mention, but also, i think there was a point where we even stopped organizing in the fields because the agriculture labor relations board was not doing its job. even today, there are still cases up in front of the california supreme court.
they are still working in the state to get some meat on the act to make the growers sit down and bargain in good faith. i hope that answers your question a little bit more. >> i was very gratified to see -- give us a transnational perspective. the entire experience of a filipino in california. it started with the spanish-american war. it is extremely important. i would like to call upon all of the scholars to do the same with the mexicans. one myth that exists is that mexican farmworkers organize within united states bubble. that is not true. there had been a huge mexican revolution led by peasants that
struggled against the landlord but burned them down and took it over. by the time we have strikes in california, in the central valley, we have decade upon decade of radicalization, organization, and so forth from mexicans in mexico and then they came to the valley and contributed. i hope that your example, which i really admire, starting with the real story in the philippines, and how they brought with them the experience of trade unionism acquired in the philippines but also in hawaii is exactly what we should do labor studies in the central valley. you gave us a great example. my question to you is could you go a little further, you mentioned religion and the fact that the virgin, a filipino icon, can you talk a little more
about the masons. the freemasons were central to the organizing through the decades. the catholic church was for the mexican farmworkers. ms. mabalon: thank you, great question. i am trying to give a short answer. the masons play an important role in the philippine revolution. he was amazing. he organizes other illustrados who were the elite in society. early in the 20th century, they are were several copycat masonic orders. one of the most important and powerful in the united states with a masonic order called the legionnaires of labor. the legionnaires of labor, they looked just like a masonic lodge
with the 33 degrees and the secret rituals. they came out of the strike against the manila electric company in 1912. there were some direct routes. members of the legionnaires of labor included a number of individuals. my father also new them. they were brothers in that way. when we talk about that militancy and the bonds that many of the workers had come they had the bond of their town and province but also of being masons with one another. those of you who are masons, i
know you won't tell us your secrets, but whatever you guys say in your secret meetings, they made promises to each other. not to cross each other's picket lines. that is why 5000 filipinos can stand up and walk out because they have those relationships with one another as brother work is, as cousins, and as masonic others also. that is an important aspect of the filipino part of the ufw. they were all brothers in the most radical of the copycat masonic orders. i think they are secret communist. my uncles and my dad would never have admitted it but they elect a queen every year. anyone who is a u.s. historian know who nina van zandt is? the haymarket affair in chicago. they knew their labor history. i am 10 years old, why is the queen called called that? don't worry. my goodness, my uncles are all marxists.