Launching a New Union (1966–1967)

Marshall Ganz

in Why David Sometimes Wins

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780195162011
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199943401 | DOI:
Launching a New Union (1966–1967)

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When the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) affiliated with the AFL-CIO to become the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC), ethnic leaders, radical organizers, and the AFL found themselves on the same team for the first time in California history. Employer reaction to the DiGiorgio victory put the alliance to the test immediately. One consequence of the victory was that it inspired wine grape workers at Perelli–Minetti vineyards near Delano to join the strike. The Teamsters intervened by providing strike breakers, claiming to represent them, and signing a contract behind the UFWOC picket lines. Recognizing that they would become a Teamster “hunting dog,” driving one ranch after another into the Teamsters' sights if they didn't fight back, UFWOC launched a boycott of the company's wines despite the fact that the existence of a Teamster contract could inhibit labor support. By May 1967, it became clear to Perelli–Minetti and the other growers that a Teamster contract could not protect them from a UFWOC boycott. The Teamsters realized that without employer cooperation they could offer UFWOC little competition in the fields. All sides went to mediation, UFWOC suspended the boycott, the Teamsters withdrew from the fight, and Perelli–Minetti transferred the contract to UFWOC. How did affiliation with the AFL-CIO, despite the traditional labor movement's history of failure in the fields, enhance the NFWA's strategic capacity? Why couldn't the Teamsters devise a more effective strategy after their “responsible union” approach failed? When the Teamsters tried to learn from UFWOC by mimicking its tactics, why didn't it work? And how could the new union expand the scope and scale of its operations to be able to consolidate its success, fend off new challenges, and launch new initiatives? The answers can be found again, although at a whole new level, in the capacity to generate effective strategy.

Keywords: National Farm Workers Association; Teamsters; Perelli–Minetti vineyards; farm workers; labor unions; strikes

Chapter.  14940 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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