Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 2 [Issue #6]
[By Michael Letwin]
On election day, November 7, the people of California will vote on Proposition 22, the so-called “Agricultural Labor Relations Initiative” The lettuce growers, the Farm Bureau and the other right wing agribusiness interests who are sponsoring the proposed law present the measure a new and better way of solving farm labor disputes in California agriculture.
But any objective examination of the law will expose its real purpose: to destroy the United Farm Workers Union and make it a crime for farm workers, most of them Chicanos, blacks and Filipinos to organize into a union of their own in California. Proposition 22 accomplishes its goals in the following ways.
*Proposition 22 outlaws the farm workers boycott. It would make it illegal to ask people not to buy scab lettuce, with a sentence of one year in jail or $5000 or both.
*Proposition 22 defines worker/union violations of the law as “unlawful acts” punishable by criminal penalties. But employer violations are “unfair labor practices” punishable at worst by a civil suit.
*The proposition prohibits farm worker picketing of any retail store or supermarket, contrary to the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court decisions protecting such activity.
*Proposition 22 abolishes the right of farm workers to strike. Growers would receive automatic 60-day injunctions, without hearings, against strikes or the threat of strike, from local superior courts — the same rural courts that enjoined the 1970 Salinas lettuce strike. Few, if any, seasonal jobs last for 60 days.
Proposition 22’s so-called “secret ballot elections” process to determine union representation would disenfranchise the vast majority of migrant and seasonal farm workers — the workers most in need and most likely to vote for the Farm Workers Union. The law says elections “Shall be set at a time when the number of temporary employees does not exceed the number of permanent employees.” On a ranch with 10 fulltime workers but 100 temporary or seasonal workers, 90 workers would be denied the right to vote.
If the Farmworkers ever won an election — and 22 makes that very unlikely — Prop. 22 makes it a crime for workers to negotiate on such important issues as pesticide protection, successor clauses, hiring halls or mechanization.
Proposition 22 was qualified for the ballot through the use of fraud and misrepresentation. Many of those who signed the initiative petition were told it was for “Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Union” and that it would lower food prices. The actual text of the initiative was purposely covered by pink cards. A public relations agent for the growers, quoted by the L.A. Times, told his paid petition gatherers, “don’t let them read anything if you can avoid it, just refer them to the information on the pink card. It has everything they need to know.” (Is it likely that the major financial backers of Proposition 22 — listed by the Secretary of State Edmund Brown — the California Farm Bureau, the Beef and Dairy Industries, the Salinas Grower, and Hunt-Wesson Foods- would contribute money to a law that would lower food prices?)
L.A. District Attorney, Joseph Busch reported an investigation by his office uncovered “widespread fraud” involved in the gathering of signatures for the grower initiative. On September 14, Secretary of State Ed. Brown Jr., filed suit in Sacramento to remove Proposition 22 from the ballot, calling it the “worst case of election fraud to ever be uncovered in Calif.”
The growers committees to pass Proposition 22 say that their campaign will be linked to a massive media blitz in the last two weeks before the election “costing upwards of $800,000.” According to the PACKER, a major agribusiness publication, “the committees expect to restrict campaigning to a short term, concentrated effort, thus making it difficult for members to refute them.”
Ads favoring 22 say this proposition would help the farm workers. As we have seen this is a lie. Signers of the petition to get the initiative on the ballot were not allowed to read what was proposed, and thousands of signees have signed affidavits to that effect. It is with this kind of gall that the big business interests propose to destroy the United Farm Workers.
THESE ARE SOME OF THE OTHER PROPOSITIONS THAT WE FEEL ARE IMPORTANT TO LOOK AT:
Proposition 9: Vote YES. 9 would provide funds for rebuilding unsafe school buildings. This prop. directly affects students. Although we all know that we have a lousy “education,” it would be better to have it in safe rather than unsafe buildings.
Proposition 11: Vote YES. 11 would make it easier to sue the government for invasion of privacy, when it is collecting data on the personal and political beliefs of different people.
Propositions 10 and 12: Vote YES. These two propositions would give tax exemption to blind and disabled veterans who were put into that state while supposedly “fighting for their country.”
Proposition 14: Vote NO. 14 would lower property taxes while raising taxes on sale items.
Proposition 15: Vote NO. Under the pretext of saving money, 15 would make it illegal for public employees to strike — teachers, sanitation, hospital workers, etc. — who are already some of the most poorly paid workers in the country.
Proposition 16: Vote NO. 16 would raise the pay of another of the state’s instruments of repression, the Highway Patrol.
Proposition 17: Vote NO. 17 would reinstate the death penalty in California, thereby reversing the stand that the California Supreme Court took.
Proposition 18: Vote NO. 18 would loosen the definition of obscenity so that the government would be able to crack down on movies, publications and anything that they didn’t like with the cry of “obscene” (even John Wayne is against it.)
Proposition 19: Vote YES. 19 would make it legal for adults to possess, cultivate, transport, etc., marijuana.
Proposition 20: Vote YES. 20 would stop the development and destruction of Calif.’s coastline by big industry.
Proposition 21: Vote NO. 21 would completely eliminate any bussing and racial integration in California.
[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/%5D