Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, by Vicki L. Ruiz

By Vicki L. Ruiz

Girls were the mainstay of the grueling, seasonal canning for over a century. This booklet is their collective biography?—a historical past in their relatives and paintings lives, and in their union. Out of the exertions militancy of the Nineteen Thirties emerged the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied staff of the United States (UCAPAWA). fast it turned the 7th biggest CIO associate and an extraordinary good fortune tale of girls in unions.Thousands of Mexican and Mexican-American girls operating in canneries in southern California proven potent, democratic exchange union locals run through neighborhood contributors. those rank-and-file activists skillfully controlled union affairs, together with negotiating such merits as maternity depart, company-provided day care, and paid vacations?—in a few instances greater advantages than they get pleasure from this day. yet via 1951, UCAPAWA lay in ruins?—a sufferer of pink baiting within the McCarthy period and of brutal takeover strategies through the foreign Brotherhood of Teamsters.

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Additional info for Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950

Sample text

A single daughter appeared more likely to work for consumer items while her older married co-worker labored to buy groceries. But regardless of motivation, they labored as members of extended family groups. Since the late nineteenth century, daughters have often worked beside their mothers. In the 1880s, for example, the California Walnut Growers Association employed entire Mexican families at harvest time. The men worked in the groves while their womenfolk supplied the labor in the packing house.

4 The AFL executive board ignored the activities and pronouncements of this informal delegation. Disillusioned by apparent apathy to their cause, caucus members pledged to create an independent international union. 5 This newly formed committee not only christened UCAPAWA but also provided many of its future leaders. In 1937 Donald Henderson became the first president and John Tisa, international director of organization. From 1937 to 1950 Leif Dahl and O. H. Whitfield participated as executive board members, and from 1941 to 1947 Luisa Moreno was an international vice-president.

12 International representatives performed the initial spadework of organization or capitalized on spontaneous grassroots unionism. They distributed pamphlets, called meetings, and gathered workers into local affiliates. Early on, these men and women used enthusiastic recruits to spread the union message among their peers. UCAPAWA representatives, however, never foisted their will upon the members. "13 One can also argue that UCAPAWA'S decentralized structure was related, in part, to the bitter split between the national office and its former affiliate, the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union (STFU).

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