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Vol. 76/No. 25      June 25, 2012

25, 50 and 75 years ago

June 26, 1987

DELANO, Calif.—More than 3,000 farm workers and their families from all over the state converged on this small farming town to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the United Farm Workers of America. Many of the union members, both veterans and new members, talked about the challenges facing the union.

In the 1960s and 1970s the UFW won collective bargaining rights for California’s farm workers by waging a struggle that won broad national support. This fight included a boycott of grapes and lettuce. Passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975 made California the first, and still today, the only state where farm workers have the legal right to petition for union recognition.

After the 1975 victory, the UFW won many contracts and at its peak had 100,000 members. However, in recent years the union has been under heavy attack, and the number is down to 30,000.

June 25, 1962

NEW YORK—While the wealthy businessmen and politicians who sit on the board of trustees of the Beth-El Hospital in Brooklyn are still trying to break the strike of their non-professional employees, workers at another hospital in the city have struck on the same issue—union recognition.

Picketing began June 18 at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat hospital for recognition of Local 1199 of the Drug and Hospital Employes Union. The 150 nurse’s aides, porters, dietary and cleaning workers there—almost all of them Negroes and Puerto Ricans—now average $47.00 a week in wages.

“The money is little enough,” said one picket on the line today, “but the real issue is just plain union recognition. We work hard and don’t get any rest and get pushed around and we don’t have any rights or dignity at all in there. That’s why we voted to strike.”

May 1, 1937

The great wave of sit-down strikes has established very clearly that this particular tactic is one of the most popular weapons developed by the working class in its long struggle against the capitalists.

The sit-down has definitely shown that it is (1) highly effective in winning workers’ rights and (2) highly effective in preventing the violence of employers from resulting in the wholesale clubbing and killing of workers commonly practiced upon unprotected picket lines.

Harassed by this new working class weapon, employers have filled the air with cries that it is “illegal” and “lawless.” That these epithets were the stock in trade of capitalists speaking against all strikes only a few months ago seems to have been completely forgotten. The old-fashioned picket line seems to have become “legal” and “American” all at once.  
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