Red Tide, Vol. 3, No. 2 [Issue #12]
Support the Farmworkers
Don’t Buy Gallo – Boycott Sav-On
[By Michael Letwin]
Once again the United Farm Workers union is asking people to boycott grapes, head lettuce and Gallo Wine in order to force these and other growers of vegetables and fruits to sign contracts with the Union. There is also a boycott at the moment of all Sav-On stores to try to get them to stop carrying Gallo Wine.
The Farmworkers have been fighting the growers for many years now in order to gain decent wages and working conditions. The average farmworker family must live on about $2700 a year. Compare this to what your family makes or what your friends live on.
More recently, the leadership of another union, the Teamsters, has joined the growers in trying to smash the Farmworkers, both by refusing to allow the Farmworkers Union to sign contracts with the growers that would guarantee higher wages, and decent working conditions such as water and toilets in the fields, and also by hiring other workers to beat up, and in some cases actually kill, Farmworker pickets who are on strike (two pickets were killed last summer). Although most Teamster Union members don’t approve of what their leadership is doing in trying to destroy the Farmworkers Union, these actions are having a disastrous effect on the chances of the Farmworkers to gain these basic needs.
The Farmworkers must be supported in their fight because they, like all people, are entitled to the basic living conditions that all of us want. Their union is doing the basic kind of organizing that most unions carried out 30 or 40 years ago[,] in a time when there were no such things as the United Farmworkers of America (UFWA). Now that farmworkers have organized themselves, it is up to us to make sure that they win.
WHO OWNS THE FARMS?
One thing that is often misunderstood about the situation in the fields is the myth that they are owned by farms the size “Green Acres” or “Lassie.” This is simply not true. The “ma and pa” small farms of several decades ago are for the most part gone. They were driven out of business a long time ago by the big agriculturalists. So who now owns the fields that are being struck by the UFWA? Well, for example, in 1959 (according to U.S. census) the three largest farmers in the San Joaquin Valley of California (which is where a lot of the striking is taking place) were Kern County Land Co., Standard Oil and Southern Pacific Railroad. A far cry from “Old MacDonald’s.”
WHAT WE CAN DO
The Farmworkers Union has asked everyone to refuse to buy head lettuce, grapes, [and] Gallo Wine, and to refuse to shop at stores where they are picketing, which at the moment is Sav-On stores, whom they are trying to get to stop carrying Gallo Wine, whose workers are on strike in order to unionize.
JOIN THE STRIKE!
For example, a number of students and others in West L.A. are picketing the Sav-On at the corner of National and Sepulveda. This is taking place on Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon. They have been asking people not to shop at Sav-On stores until they stop carrying Gallo Wine, just one company that has refused lo allow farmworkers to unionize with the UFWA.
So far, these actions have been very successful. Many people who would normally shop at this store decide to shop elsewhere when they see or talk to the pickets. At this store[,] many pickets have turned away as many as 20-30 people a day. This adds up to a lot of business for Sav-On that is lost.
People at all schools can be involved with this also. There are Sav-Ons and other stores that need pickets all over the city, and students can play an active role in the victory of the Farmworkers over these vicious businesses,
If you can, then join the students who are picketing at the above times. The more people there are, the more effective we can be. If you go to schools far from there, and want to work the Farmworkers Union in your area, then write to us, or call the Farm workers Union at 381-1136.
[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/]