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Labor Industrial Relations

Cesar Chavez (20th Century Biographies) by Anne E. Schraff

By Anne E. Schraff

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If people did not see the emblem of the black eagle on a box of grapes, they refused to buy it. The eagle symbol meant that the grower had come to terms with the UFW union. One by one, the grape growers were making deals with Chavez. On July 17, 1970, the big break came. Twenty-three growers were ready to negotiate. They grew almost half of all the grapes in California. 42 Chavez Book 9/17/07 2:20 PM Page 43 Negotiations were held at the Holiday Inn in Bakersfield. 80 an hour. The grape strike ended.

46 Chavez Book 9/17/07 2:20 PM Page 47 In May 1972 a similar anti-union initiative was passed in Arizona. Cesar Chavez moved into a Phoenix barrio to begin a 24-day fast. His health was poor during the fast. He suffered from an irregular heartbeat, but he would not stop. Chavez called for a recall of the politicians who led the fight to pass an anti-union law. His target was primarily Republican governor, Jack Williams. Chavez failed to unseat the governor. But his campaign registered many new Mexican American voters.

Chavez’s union voted to join Itliong’s cause. Then, Filipino and Mexican farm workers stood side by side. On the first day of the strike, 1,200 workers walked out from the vineyard. They formed picket lines on the roads 33 Chavez Book 9/17/07 2:20 PM Page 34 leading into the grape farm. Some growers turned to violence. They pointed shotguns at the strikers. They knocked some of them to the ground and set fire to their picket signs. The growers roared down the dirt roads in trucks. They showered picketers with gravel and dirt.

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