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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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PROGRAM INFO

Title:
The Plight Of The Migrant Farm Worker
Program #
1977-48
Theme:
Politics

Series:
Labor
Host:
Gloria Contreras
Guest:
Antonio Orendain
Date:
Oct 12, 1977

The Plight of the Migrant Farm Worker

In 1977, Antonio Orendain led the Texas Farmworkers Human Rights March from San Juan, Texas to Washington D.C. to draw attention to the plight of Texas farm workers and the right to work laws that hindered their organizing. In here, he discusses the TFWU’s strategies for organizing undocumented workers, migrant farm-workers and specific growers in a right-to-work state like Texas. He touches on the regional needs that led to a split from the United Farm Workers, as well as the labor audience in Latin America for La voz del campesino.

Antonio Orendain, a leader of the Texas Farm Workers Union, discusses their efforts to repeal the Right to Work laws protected in the Taft Hartley Act and organize farm workers. Orendain explains that these laws encourage people from other countries to undersell their labor, but he does not think illegal immigration is the problem. He places the source of the trouble among employers and free enterprise system that exploits the situation of the poor, the under-educated, and the immigrants. As part of their protest, the Texas Farm Workers collected over 85,000 signatures on a petition calling for the Right to work laws to be repealed. Orendain discusses how pleased he was to enjoy the solidarity of African Americans and other veterans of civil rights struggles, and in particular the assistance throughout the march. He discusses his meeting with Vice President Walter Mondale and Ray Marshall, the University of Texas Government Professor and then Secretary of Labor, and their agreement that Section 14 B of the Taft Hartley Act is unjust, bad law, and difficult for farm-workers. Orendain hopes that their march helped people realize the ways laws and policies shield growers and factory owners from workers in the United States.

Orendain also discusses his break with Cesar Chavez and explains that after 15 years of cooperation, they decided to try and focus their energies on organizing in Texas and not just in California. He then reflects on the successful organizing strategies that worked in South Texas and offered ways for listeners to support the union in South Texas. Key examples included donating food, clothing and money to help during strikes, printing their newspaper and buying radio time for their program, La Voz el Campesino, which is broadcast on both sides of the border. He discusses responses to La Voz del Campesino in Guatemala and along the Guatemalan border, and even reflects on Mexico’s labor policies towards Guatemaltecos on the southern border.

 

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

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