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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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The Road To Unionization
Program #

Richard Goodman
Richard Goodman
Jan 28, 1977

The Road to Unionization

Host Richard Goodman discusses the first major attempt by Mexican American farm workers to unionize at the DiGiorgio Corporation in California. In 1947, workers at the DiGiorgio farm picketed for better wages, grievance procedures, seniority rights and the recognition of their union Local 218 a branch of the National Farm workers Union (NFWU). Joseph DiGiorgio, the company’s founder, refused their requests and launched a crusade to ruin the union.

The union responded with work stoppages and a national boycott. However, Local 218, which counted Filipino, Anglo and Mexican members, lacked the funds to support such lengthy actions. Moreover, DiGiorgio was a substantial threat—he sent the police to attack the picketers, hired strikebreakers and spread rumors about the union. When these tactics failed, DiGorgio found other ways to attack the union and its supporters, which included the Hollywood Film Council.

In 1959, his company produced a report denouncing the union. Congressmen Richard Nixon, Thruston Morton, and Tom Steed signed and filed it in the Congressional Record, which lent the report an aura of authority. The report effectively ended the strike and ruined the NFWU. This episode slowed organizing among Mexican-Americans, but the struggle continues on.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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