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|Laborfest: 50th Anniversary of Grape Strike|
|Date||Saturday July 18|
|Time||6:00 PM - 8:00 PM|
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Manilatown Center - 868 Kearny St., San Francisco. Buses: 8, 10, 12, 30, 41, 45.
50th Anniversary of Grape Strike, The Past, Present and Future
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Grape Strike. The strike was launched on September 8, 1965, in the Filipino Community Hall by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), AFL-CIO, in the small farming town of Delano in the California Central Valley. This strike followed an earlier AWOC strike in the Coachella Valley. Both strikes were led by a Filipino labor leadership composed of Larry Itliong, Benjamin Gines, Pete Velasco, and Philip Vera Cruz, veterans of the decades-long struggle to bring collective-bargaining rights to this country’s agricultural sector.
The strikes highlighted the ongoing fight for basic workers rights, including minimum wage, overtime pay, sick time and recognition of their union. The strike was expanded when AWOC leadership urged the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) and its president, Cesar Chavez, to merge forces by joining its picket-line. The merger of these two major organizations subsequently became the United Farmworkers, AFL-CIO. The ‘65 strike and subsequent grape boycott received support from workers’ organization both in the U.S. and around the world. This strike came to be the largest agricultural workers strike since the 1930’s and brought about a mass mobilization focused not only on conditions on the job, but the living conditions of those workers who toil to put food on our nation’s table.
The grape boycott was massive and comprehensive. For 5 years, anyone with any labor consciousness never touched a grape.
Our program will summarize the victories of the 1965 Grape Strike and its aftermath. In the end, the initial Filipino leadership was all but gone marking the decline of the UFW as a militant, fighting union for all agricultural workers. We will then focus on the reasons and causes for the eventual decline of the UFW and its impact on this country’s agricultural workforce.
Today, the vast majority of agricultural workers face the very same issues that they did in 1965, including the lack of union protection and representation. Moreover, the courts and politicians in California have swung to the Right, becoming the mouthpiece of corporate Agribusiness. Our forum will examine what is needed to rebuild the labor struggle within our agricultural sector.
Panel Speakers include; Al Rojas, an original founder of the UFW; Mary Jane Galviso, Farmer, Ilokano Farms & Flipina agricultural worker; Howard Keylor, former ILWU Local 10 member, who was personally involved and acquainted with many of the Filipino labor leadership.
Film One Generation's Time: The Legacy of Silme Domingo & Gene Viernes will be shown again. (Check the detail on 7/17 schedule of this film at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/06/19/18773731.php