The Great Delano Grape Strike (1965–1966)

Marshall Ganz

in Why David Sometimes Wins

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780195162011
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199943401 | DOI:
The Great Delano Grape Strike (1965–1966)

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On September 8, 1965, 800 Filipino workers organized by Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) struck ten Delano grape growers, demanding a wage of $1.40 an hour plus 25 cents per box. Two weeks later, on September 20, at least as many Mexican workers, organized by the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), struck an additional ten growers. By the time the rains brought the table grape harvest to an end in November, thirty-two growers had been struck, over 5,000 workers had indicated support for one of the two unions, and a movement began to emerge, intended to achieve the revolution in agriculture. Leaders of both the NFWA and AWOC made tactical choices about how to deal with a grape strike that neither had planned, but they drew upon different strategic capacities. AWOC organizers, operating within a strategic frame focused on local labor markets, targeted the hardcore of the table grape industry, counting on their members' skill and solidarity to provide sufficient leverage to get wages raised. Initially, the NFWA targeted growers based on where its constituency happened to work. However, a more specific target emerged as the experimental process of probing, pushing, and trying a little of this and a little of that continued.

Keywords: Delano grape strike; farm workers; labor organizing; Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee; National Farm Workers Association

Chapter.  18945 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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