Title: LA CAUSA The California grape strike
Photographer(s): Paul Fusco
Writer(s): George D. Horwitz
Designer(s): William Hopkin, Ira Friedlander
Publisher(s): Collier Books, New York, U.S.A.
Size: 20 x 28 cm
Print: Printed in U.S.A.
Nation(s) and year(s) of Protest: U.S.A.,1965 -1970
To the Farmworkers of California and Mexico
" We are not beasts of burden, we are not agricultural implements or rented slaves, we are men"
In 1966 Paul Fusco started a documentation on California's farmworkers and the movement, in particular its leader Caesar Chavez that asked for more rights for workers. This beautiful book is not only a documentation of events from the grape strike to social life but also a timely report of human rights. In my opinion is thank to books like this that many things changed, actually is a little difficult to believe that a book can change something but in seventies communication was different and images and texts had a value.
In 1965, grape workers in the San Joaquin Valley in California went on strike to demand higher wages and better work conditions. Many farmworkers were denied a living wage or basic necessities, such as sufficient housing, healthcare, or education for their children.
The strike began mainly with workers of Filipino ancestry, organized by Larry Itliong and the union called the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC).
At the time, César Chávez and Dolores Huerta led another union in the San Joaquin Valley, the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which was comprised mostly of Mexican-American farmworkers. The NFWA decided to support the strike, and in 1966, the two unions merged into the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (United Farm Workers).
The grape workers strike lasted from 1965 to 1970. In 1966, César Chávez led a march from Delano in the San Joaquin Valley to Sacramento, to draw attention to the strike. The march succeeded in bringing national attention and the first negotiations between vineyard owners and the union. However, most of the growers continued to refuse to negotiate with the union, and the United Farm Workers organized a national boycott of grapes to place additional pressure on the growers. Many consumers were sympathetic to the strike and refused to buy grapes, and grocery stores followed suit by refusing to stock non-union grapes. By 1969, grape sales in the United States had dropped 30–40% as a result of the strike and boycott.
In 1970, all the major grape growers in the San Joaquin Valley agreed to negotiate with the United Farm Workers, and the resulting agreement granted workers a 6% wage increase and recognized the right of the union to negotiate on behalf of farmworkers in the future.