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Vol. 76/No. 23      June 11, 2012

United Farm Workers holds
50th anniversary convention
BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—The 50th anniversary convention of the United Farm Workers took place May 18-20 in this city at the southern end of California’s central agricultural valley.

The gathering of about 600 brought together several generations who have been involved in the struggles to organize and defend farm workers. Among the participants were veterans of the grape pickers strike that began in Delano in 1965.

“I had courage and I was hungry,” Marcos Munoz, one of the original Delano strikers, told participants. “I knew we were being abused and they were stealing from us. The union changed my life.”

UFW President Arturo Rodriguez said the union recently won new contracts with the largest strawberry grower in the country, the biggest U.S. winery, and one of the largest vegetable growers. The delegates set a priority of organizing tomato pickers in the Stockton area and melon pickers near Fresno.

Anger over the bosses’ refusal to pay overtime was raised by a number of the 250 convention delegates.

“We only get overtime pay after 10 hours, or 60 hours in a week,” Hugo Ibarra, a mushroom picker from Gilroy, told the Militant.

“We don’t have time for anything,” said Tesfom, 32, an Eritrean-born dairy farm worker in Oregon. “We work 12 hours a day, six days.”

In 2007 the UFW won a long battle to secure a contract at D’Arrigo Brothers vegetables in the Salinas Valley. The company responded soon after by trying to get the union decertified, and a ruling is pending, reported a union organizer.

On May 12, a judge in Ventura County ruled that strawberry grower Montalvo Farms had to reinstate Constantino Rodriguez, a worker who was fired by the company for attempting to organize indigenous Mixteco workers from Oaxaca, Mexico.

In March of this year, according to the lawsuit, 80 to 100 workers supported by the UFW went on a one-day strike. Anti-union thugs later physically assaulted UFW supporters.
Related articles:
Canadian rail strike paralyzes shipping
Workers battle Lockheed over concession demands
Machinists: ‘Strike is making us stronger’
Workers in Myanmar fight for wage raises and electrification
On the Picket Line
New Zealand meat workers’ strike defeats union-busting
Maori farmers’ boycott threats aided struggle  
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