August 10, 1997,
Grower march fizzles as union movement builds in the stawberry fields
Watsonville, Calif., Aug.10, 1997 – An anti-union rally and march billed by strawberry growers as the "March of Truth" fell far short of growers’ expectations Sunday, drawing an estimated 1,000 people, most of them strawberry company owners, supervisors and foremen.
Organizers had promised at least 5,000 people. The small turnout is in contrast to the 30,000 pro-union workers and supporters who turned out April 13 to back the United Farm Workers effort to help strawberry ‘workers improve their lives and working conditions.
"Now that the growers have shown that they have very limited support, it is time they get totally out of the way of workers’ efforts to join together with the United Farm Workers," said Annabelle Cortez, UFW spokesperson. "We know that foremen tried to pressure ‘workers to demonstrate against the union. That the vast majority of the area’s 15,000 strawberry workers stood up to the pressure is a victory."
Workers organizing with the United Farm Workers are struggling for better wages, better working conditions, a say in how their ‘work is done and job security in return for years of loyalty.
In contrast, the organizers of Sunday’s march – several strawberry companies and a front group called the Agricuitural Workers Committee – have put their energy into fighting ‘workers and bashing their union.
"The growers and the Agricultural Workers Committee should now refocus their efforts to lift people up, not keep them down," Cortez said.