Issue and inquiry; 3
From Northeastern University the National Information Network presents issue and inquiry. You want to determine what the workers want permit them to have an election. Let's see what the workers actually have that wages are only part of the picture. The farm workers have no with none of the fringe benefit that we expect in civilised labor. No overtime pay no sick leave no unemployment insurance no life or health insurance no retirement benefits no vacations none of the things we expect. I say all these very tragic evils and I say that grapes at this point want to taste very bitter in our mouths indeed. This week on issue an inquiry his real guilt and pain and David Borne great distributors Marco's Munoz of Delano California a representative of the United Farm Workers and Rabbi Judea Miller discussing thickening in the fields the farm union movement. Here is your host Joseph R. Vader.
Not since the turbulent days of labor strikes in the 1930s as a strike evokes so much widespread sentiment from the American people as the conflict between Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers of Delano California and the farmers that grow the nation's table grapes also in the Delano California area the struggle the farm workers for union recognitions higher pay and better living and working conditions began in September of 1965. And since then these predominantly Mexican-American workers have conducted a nationwide boycott of table grapes that reaches from Oregon to New England. Consumers are being asked not to buy California grapes and the first question would be how did the boycott start. Why does it continue Arcos else what the disagreement was you know that farm workers since the night didn't seek to do it is that are not going to do sales and. You standin there man some of the things that it was neat for us to know to survive in life was some of the things you know that we feel that we got to have exactly what do you
feel that you have to have. Well first of all we would like to have to be covered under the minimum wage which is fine work isn't being excluded for that. Also we like to have you know like a medic with changes in the fields toilets in a field you know which we didn't hear with an agency to do. We like to have one union recognition because I hope to be in use I believe to be lost by the growers you know and it way that the growers promised things in an area come true. So we like to have something in writing what it will guarantee as they would pay is a kind of wages that would have some kind of security for ourselves that we said this is what we have and this is what we did about ourselves and didn't matter. All right apparently you do not feel that you have these things now you're out on strike you're out on Boycott people don't take that type of drastic action unless they are hurting. Now what are the goals of the strike. The goal to strike is to have an union to a nation. It's the number one. Well isn't he mean you're not recognized workers all over the country are all recognize I I'm sure
perhaps too many people in the audience as comes as a surprise truck driver singers writers teachers or recognize what about agriculture is great I don't really organize from the top to the bottle to know what the only thing is not being organized as I could quote you for have so many years you know it was a small font but now we're talking about huge corporations now we're not talking about as more fun is the most and so now what. Today you know the coastal even for the fine work is also just but the same thing that it would cost to the industry and then you steal those those are the people we talk about not being organized and we as a farm worker we feel we have to be recognized we had to be organized. We have been union but we now been recognized by the Lord the Lord he would not let this heaven Union it when I let is have relations to the side we won in union and it's because we exclude him from the National Asian knocked. So there is no law to have these companies that recognize unions you know they don't know how to recognize it. All right Israel guilt and pain. You represent the growers. What is your connection with the
growers you're a far distance from California. First question second question what is your stand. Mr. Munoz is wrong in some of his statements. Mr Munoz says there are no toilets in the field which there are and according to law they have to be there. And the law strictly enforced the same thing applies to drinking water. And as far as minimum wages are concerned there was a definite minimum wage of a dollar 65 cents an hour in the state of California for agricultural workers. So everything that was the Munoz says up to this point the only thing he asked for is union recognition. What does it mean and I don't know what union recognition means. I know what unions are but what does he mean by union recognition. Does this necessitate a boycott as an American citizen I object strenuously to the fact that a man has to join a union if he doesn't want to. True any man who wants to join you in you more power to him I think it's marvelous so Union has a definite place in the economy of this country. You believe in a right to work laws. Yes I certainly do.
Well in a sense if you're fighting this battle that has gone by it's all about all the 1930's should laborers have a right to organize are rightly laborers should have a right to walk on ice without any question of about they should be able to organize if they want to organize and in order to organize effectively closed shop or some variation of a closed shop is necessary in order to get collectively with all union members the same equivalent power that the corporation with concentrated money. Has now you're saying that the the great pickers don't want to unionize. That's what I said is that so. Marcos a farm worker Maceo and my wife from one of our men have been a farm workers and we want to be unionized. They want to pull any of this but they can have burdens of the growers in the brokers who keep saying that we no one in unionize. This is why we have the United Farm Workers and asked them please let us here elections let the workers
decide who we want to unionize or not. But not the will of several Asians and since we don't have the legends there is no way for us to be able to says we want to or not and this has been begun since in 1965 at the 1969 to the day you have any idea why the representatives of the great growers would try to perpetuate the idea that your people do not want to organize Is there any all terrier motor gears. We feel that the glory of the One is because once we knew nice then it's a blog. Herr leader would most Bob but one of the main reasons I guess it would be because you're afraid to lose the control of the workers when we talk about the control of the workers as a maiden in the stamen. That we worked in one field to move from one field to the air when we don't get paid. OK Also you don't have to have these toilets in a field. Also big wouldn't believe the workers in any way they want to you know and there's no law that we're going to enforce them. Also families live in the camps like the growers and meet together many many
many times you made this dame and you know there was a free houses in all these right here in Boston it was an article in the papers talk about all the free Gaza period that we have we see the people leaving the camps you know each are we work to deduct 10 cents an hour and that is not only for the here's the head of the family. So you know what everyone believes they owe everyone who works so an end of the month. After all the work you put in is not a free housing. So this is the kinds of things that the glory the freight the losing control. Rabbi Miller you went to California as a guest of the New England tunnel Market Association. You returned a proponent of the great workers cause now what did you find in California that had an impact on your opinion in this regard. If I have a bias it's a bias against people being abused and their dependency being exploited. And that sense I came back convinced that the workers cause is just and that the demand to have their union recognized is a legitimate and even a moral issue. I would say it's
not a matter of forced unionism. The older workers are asking for is an election to determine what the workers really want these are the forgotten of America these farm workers they are not getting a dollar sixty five minimum. Only women and children are the men don't have a minimum wage in California even of the the so called benefits that they're supposed to be having in their camps. Sanitation requirement and so forth. From what we saw and what we smelled indicated that many of these regulations not being enforced in some of these some of these camps we saw as like going back into the middle ages. What is the argument between you Americans. Why can't we settle this sort of like let's start in 1965 when Cesar Chavez started his great workers organizing committee. 1962. But it was in 1965 that the nation was in 1965 because if you get visualizer rights if you will whether it's 48 to 68 is 100 acres a thousand acres after x number of months of praying and then
cultivating in there we're gating finally with the help of God the grapes are ready to be harvested. Now they have to be harvested now at the point moment of maturity not yesterday and not tomorrow. They have to be harvested now and either you mean to tell me that of these people wanted a union that a 15 or 20 percent of these people walked off the jobs at this. But the moment that they wouldn't have a union in 20 minutes who's getting the contracts that they have secured for the workers but they were wineries and anybody that had a segment or a section of the table great business that was affiliated with these contracts immediately went out of business. It was in 1865 or so you know all your friends and your boss your mama used trucks that went to collect you can bring people from Mexico and I could even make you names as I asked you that question two Once ago. I asked you what a green card it was because you know you your people I don't know
whether it's you but your people have made the remark in the rabbi has gone along with this that people of Iraq off of their jobs and immediately the grape growers have gone and brought in green cars from Mexico has now I asked you a question. Two months ago and you answered me very nicely I asked you how long it takes to process a Mexican to come into the United States. What is the definition of a Green got it. You told me just a moment. He told me that it takes 30 days. Can I just take 30 days. I mean how do they get them in here overnight. We're not we did not get you said we went along we didn't go along with anyone we went by the immigration police in Bakersfield California at the Bakersfield station which covers two and a half counties which is where this strike is located and which in the peak of the harvest has approximately 6000 pickers and we will learn from the director of the Bakersfield station of the border police not from the union and not from the ranchers and not from the press. We learned that in the
12 month period following the start of the year Mara strike they caught four thousand seven hundred and four not green katas but illegal if not wetbacks either don't use the word wetback a wetback isn't as in Texas in fact when the ranchers say we're not going right back there right now we are Grand River. Hear me out please wait a minute I just want to call it in there. This is this is the speciousness of your argument here and of the ranch as to where we found Rabbi Lance and I when we found we were deceived they said that we were on hiring wetbacks of course you weren't hiring wetbacks. But I still was the fence jump is not the swimmers of the Rio Grande and because you don't have a river there. I know in the place they had last year according to the account of the GMR plant 9000 W-2 forms they hire an average of fifteen hundred up to 3000 but fifteen hundred is the usual workforce. Now if you time that three times my friend that's three complete workforces and Reverend Hartman who works with the ministry out there reported that he
saw three times workers walk off your model ranch three times. Workers being brought into games being brought in to replace them and we have a description of exactly what has gone on of that boycott. Perhaps as well but on the other dogs to ask the gentleman who has felt the weight of the boycott. A representative of the growers to answer that question. David Warren take it anyway. The boycott has not been that effective it has been in certain local areas grapes have been consumed distributed under normal situation. The Department of Agriculture has cited a statistic which goes like this in New York City the sale of table grapes has gone down to 90 percent. In the past year and New York city consumes 20 percent. All of those table grapes consumed in the n tired country. Now this is from the Department of Agriculture you say it's gone off 90 percent 90 percent grape
crop this year was 20 percent larger than the was last year 20 percent. Well there was a boycott a whether there was a strike whether there was any labor difficulties or not with a 20 percent increase in production on grapes. The great market would have been lower anyhow with the increase of 20 percent of these grapes. The crop was harvested and it was stored and it was distributed and it was sold. So whereas there were strike in other words you don't feel hurt by this great boycott. I'm not hurt at all I'm talking now about the principle of think are there better boycotts in the United States and in our labor history for years and years and years are certainly nothing on America and I think a boycott is immoral. I think it's illegal it's a two way it's sort if you were illegally ranchers would have gotten an injunction which they would question is are justified in this situation this is not illegal. It's not a Leo let's talk about where you go is it I don't know if the state was made that was illegal it's not only I think I stopped off all the blood from the bleeding hearts but in just I was just out of talking about
we have full facts to sling just to facts. If if these workers are among the highest paid agricultural workers and if the growers are doing all they can to cooperate and give these workers what they can because they need them for their crops is those boycott justified this is American principle. It's justified so long as so long as the workers are not granted the right that every other worker is in this country seems to be granted the right to have an election to determine what the work is actually what you're talking about things that should be taken up by Congress by the lawmakers of this country. As I wish I wish it was so simple like this particular one basically that's what it is. Yes but as you know as you read this you say you had a great education you read a lot you know the following where you sent as I knew it from the national election since the 1935. Not last year they used to Mara since 1935. People would have strong allies in Washington on you know would you do it is
your department not go to the bottom of your fleet was them you know and it's interesting it's almost ironic now the growers you know bask in the glory that California has all these sanitation laws these feel all these wonderful morons for the benefit of Agriculture and yet their association brought these and I've fought it up to my name after that I say not to the extent of David where now we have an minimum wage for women and children. Your association actually brought it to the U.S. Supreme Court of California to fight it. But I mean children there were child labor laws in California too you know and certainly children working in the fields need them on a ranch. They do say and I did see them I picture them to U.S. history of American labor employer relations. It certainly is easily demonstrated that laws now on the books put on the books by FDR and New Deal legislation were fought tooth and nail by the owners and yet once on the books they have become the pride of America of the American free enterprise capitalist system.
Growers are in favor of the workers organizing for their rights. There's no question about it. They just want it done in such a way that their rights as far as harvesting the crop are protected also is true you say 10 laws only one out of the 10 laws is nine law took over the farm workers there's beautiful things beautiful. But I would like is it to the public and to you gentlemen to know that these laws that they're in their books is the reason Nixon stated you know in his statement you know there was laws on the books this through laws on the books but not being there about another quarter and this is why we don't know those kinds of laws. You know last week Will you read it. You bring up the question of Richard Nixon's objection and condemnation of the Grape Strike. Perhaps we should give our audience the information that people who have endorsed the Grape Strike number Bobby Kennedy Senator Eugene McCarthy Senator McGovern and Vice President Humphrey. And yet the man in the White House is not hungry McGovern McCarthy or Kennedy his name is Nixon.
He feels that the National Labor Relations Board should BDA these disputes he feels that laws already on the books are adequate to cover the problem the confrontation the great workers in the grape growers now do you people in the studio favor the grape wreckers. Do you anticipate that there's going to be any cooperation from Nixon and the next administration as but if it was a fun workout I would have said them a zillion relit but it barely a small dose of the Nixon he would create and it would have on workers I hope I'm wrong. I hope it turns another way in and do it you know. But we don't have much of the clubs in it to do with the Center for the farm workers as the statement was related to the farm to the great beakers doing his campaign you know they would eat grapes and everything they got Johnson you know and all these kinds of things. When Nixon it was come to Boston we made a demonstration asking him to come on early and they told us those laws and those books that he was talking about you know I saw a picture of him eating grapes. Yes he was eating grapes is right you know.
This is why we don't got too much of the hope of a new president we have now unfortunately agriculture is not like manufacturing canned goods or any staple commodities. There are several factors involved and in other words a grower can sit down and say well it's going to cost me a dollar and a half a box to grow a box of grapes. It's going to cost me $2 a box to pick it cost me three and a half dollars I want to profit $4 f will be our business is controlled by the law of supply and demand. There are many many factors that enter into what the prices are based on the demand the availability of supply. So it doesn't make any difference whether there's a union or there isn't even the issue involved the way I see it is that the growers and file regrown I'd be petrified to have a contract that would enable people to walk off at the moment of harvest. It could ruin you. And from what I understand the growers want certain guarantees that this cannot
happen during harvesting time and that's all. And I don't blame him. Let me tell you something I observed about a boycott in fact the germ of the idea for this program occurred when I was driving through Brookline section just outside of Boston proper. I went past I guess it was an ANP and here were a lot of young kids picketing the supermarkets big areas spear carriers young hotheads hippies call them what you may I will assure you this there were very few long hair types. They were all buttoned down collared a clean cut crew cut people probably the favorites Americans and none the seminarians and nuns. They certainly were not radical in appearance and perhaps that is the question. What is it about this issue that has provoked so many young people widely diverse of as as Young Americans for Freedom and STDs and black militant I think you provoke them to come together on this cause are these young kids wrong. I can give you the answer to this I think the propaganda that the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee have been issuing Mr.
Munoz and his cohorts get up to religious meetings or political meetings or at the clubs and they stand there and he and as he says all we want is a better shake of life. We are getting a dollar ten cents an hour. There are no toilets in the field. There was no drinking water. You know if I were a youngster and I listened to that I would positively be with him one thousand and one percent. So can I and this is what the problem is they don't understand well now is Rabbi No. Miller who went out to take a look at the great pickers conditions wrong did he see a mirage. Is he a liar he's a man of the cloth he wanted to buy. You want me to answer that. Yes he's a man of the cloth. He's not a liar but he is close minded and biased. He was before we went there and he came back that way. Well not I believe but believe me when I tell you he was not quite as biased when he came back as when he went. And this is the thing that I can't understand why you people can't get together. Rabbi Miller
is this accurate you don't look like a close minded biased person and Marcus Munoz over here doesn't look like a propagandist and neither does Israel go from Boehner or David Moore I don't think we're biased. I hope I'm not biased. Well as they say if I do have a bias is that I don't like to see people get kicked in the head. And wages are only part of the picture because the most part these farm workers I think are the forgotten of the American labor. For us so that I may of last well I should be set again and it should be said again and again. We have as a Chavez commented We have a tremendous tremendous capacity to inflict pain and agony on other human beings and deny it's even happening. And as this is happening in the lane of California and the strike is going on there this the very fact is that that make it difficult for the ranchers for example to say that they're afraid of a strike during the season is the very reason why workers are forced back and economic reasons are forced back to work during the season. The most majority of the money that the
great picker makes a farm worker makes is during the season he can't afford not to work anymore than a rancher can afford not to harvest his crop. Both have a vested interest in bringing in the crop. And it's quite interesting that in the nine contracts that was signed with the Wango was the contracts up for negotiation consumed months before the harvest season even begins. Marcos muñoz your people have put their bodies on the line in this boycott this strike. How long can you continue and what is the future of Union organization for great pickers for migrant workers and for tenant farmers all over the country in your opinion. I like to continue as you ask about the boycott to continue the boycott of the strike in general you know how I can see a definite you know but I will convene you know tend to gloss it will recognize the fact that the rights of the farm workers you know and also I
would go on long as I could live as long as people help us it's been helping us. Churches organisation housewife you know not only in the beginning but he happened I was financial you know the way we support ourselves is by contribution from people you know people who give us a dollar or a quarter or a dime and this is a people you know they've been keeping as a strong going to be helping us to fight. But each day increase you know people begin to hear about the brawl and I'm so happy in a way even as you know I don't go out of the contract yet you know but I got we got to the point where we've been recognized for many people now you know many people ignore the funguses seized you know we should give them banned the rest of the guys around here and all the no that we insist before the enemy had us to go to California but used to go to the office you know other humorous offers in but anyway going to the field. We feel that we will continue and. Last year we make a terrible mistake by going back to California. But this year we're not making that mistake. This year will
be our month then here and we would talk and medians which of them we have. But the farm workers in the center of a can of people in being from day watching don't investigate and they strike in California. And this is where we can be doing a groan and roll over the medians. You know we go any place that people want as long as it calls at the office and this is what we're going to survive. David Boren Rabbi Miller 60 seconds each for both of you here at the end of the program. David first the workers do not want to have any part of this union they're not on strike. This is the first part the second point is that the growers there know they must do all they can to help their workers they need them to harvest the crop they need the cooperation. Third point to remember remember that in this country we have the highest production and the best value as far as food goes so let's not spoil the system by a possible boycott which could be done by Bell if you want to determine what the workers want permit them to have an election. Let's see what the workers actually have that wages are only part of the picture. The farm workers have
no none of the fringe benefit that we expect in civilized labor no overtime pay no sick leave no unemployment insurance no life or health insurance no retirement benefits no vacations none of the things that we expect all these very tragic evils. And I say that grapes at this point ought to taste very bitter in our mouths indeed. Well time is running out here on this program and the boycotts the great boycotts are going on picket lines growing longer and longer around supermarkets around the country and fewer and fewer people taste the table grapes every week. And it's evident through this program that both sides are adamant you four gentlemen have confronted each other on two consecutive programs and there's no question in my mind I'm sure many of the audience that this confrontation is destined to continue for many months before labor and management can reach a peaceful agreement. John thank you very much.
Northeastern University has brought you Israel guilt and Damon David Bohrman great distributors Marco's Munoz of delay known California representative of the United Farm Workers and Rabbi Judea Miller discussing picketing in the field. The farm union movement. The views and opinions expressed on the preceding program were not necessarily those of Northeastern University board the station. Questions I asked were the moderators method of presenting many sides of today's topic. Your program host has been Joseph arbiter Director Department of radio productions. This week's program was produced by Peter Lance directed by James n Frey with technical supervision by Todd Baker executive producer for issue and inquiry is Peter Lance. Issue 1 inquiry is for use for the division of instructional communications at the nation's largest private university. Northeastern University requests for a tape recorded copy of any program in this series may be addressed to issue an inquiry. Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts 0 2 1
- Issue and inquiry
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