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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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Organizing The Undocumented Worker
Program #

Linda Fregoso
Antonio Orendain, Estella Salinas
May 9, 1980

Organizing the Undocumented Worker

In this interview conducted in Spanish, Antonio Orendain and Estella Salinas, organizers with the Texas Farm Workers Union (TFWU), discuss the situation of the undocumented worker and the Union’s efforts to pass legislation that will protect all farm workers. Orendain explains how undocumented workers are exploited in both Mexico and the United States and the only way to protect all workers is through union contracts. He also draws comparisons between farm workers and industrial workers who are protected by unions. The TFWU is currently lobbying to pass an Agriculture Labor Relations Act in Texas that will protect farm workers just as the 1935 Labor Relations act protected industrial workers. Orendain also discusses the recent International Conference for the Defense of the Undocumented Worker, which several U.S. union leaders attended.

Estella Salinas then discusses the precarious situation of the undocumented worker. She explains that transnational agribusiness have been able to neutralize strikes by planting on the Mexican side of the border. Similarly packing and oil companies have made several incursions into Mexico where they are able to pay workers low wages and obtain significant concessions. Salinas also talks about the many ways immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy and the continued vulnerability they face. While undocumented workers pay taxes, they are often too afraid to ask for aid and social services. Moreover, they are often the target of violence from both vigilantes and law enforcement agents and employer abuse.


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

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