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Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR000221_AWOC
The records reflect the activities until their merger with the National Farm Workers Association to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO in 1966.

Important subjects covered in the collection: Agricultural laborers--Laws and legislation--United States Alien labor--Government policy--United States Boycotts--United States Bracero Program (Public Law 78) Collective bargaining--Agricultural--California Filipino Americans Mexican Americans Migrant agricultural laborers--United States Strikes and lockouts--Agricultural laborers--California Strikes and lockouts--Vineyard laborers--California--Delano Trade unions-- Organizing

Important correspondents: Fay Bennett, Edmund G. Brown, Anne Draper, Ernesto Galarza, Msgr. George G. Higgins, H. L. Mitchell, James Patton, Walter P. Reuther, Eleanor Roosevelt

Series Description: Series 1: AWOC Directors' Files, 1959-1966: Subseries A: Norman Smith Files, 1959-1961, Subseries B: Directors' Files, 1959-1966;

Series 2: AWOC General Files, 1959-1966: Subseries A: General Files, 1959-1966, Subseries B: General Files - Branch Offices, 1959-1966;

Series 3: Financial Records, 1959-1966;

Series 4: Legal Files, 1959-1966: Subseries A: General Files, 1959-1964, Subseries B: Growers and Contractors, 1959-1966

Dates

  • 1959 - 1966

Creator

Language of Materials

Material in English with some Spanish.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.

Extent

15.5 Linear Feet (31 MB)

Abstract

AWOC was chartered by the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to organize farm workers in California. During its seven-year existence, AWOC called many strikes against growers and farm labor contractors and achieved some success in raising wages of farm laborers.

History

In April, 1959 Norman Smith was directed by AFL-CIO President George Meany to begin organizing farm workers in California and in June of the following year the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) was chartered by the AFL-CIO. Norman Smith served as AWOC's director through 1961. In 1962 C. Al Green took over as director and served until 1966.

During its seven-year existence, AWOC called many strikes against growers and farm labor contractors and achieved some success in raising the wages of farm laborers. Additionally, AWOC sought job security, union recognition and better working conditions for its members. AW0C also set up a Welfare Department to aid members in their dealings with growers and the government.

A major stumbling block in organizing farm workers was Public Law 78, which allowed contractors and growers to hire foreign nationals. These workers, mostly from Mexico and known as braceros, were used illegally as strikebreakers and, because they worked for less, were often hired before domestic workers, also an illegal practice. Whenever AWOC acquired evidence of such illegal activities on the part of growers and contractors, it protested to the appropriate state and federal agencies. Finally, Congress allowed Public Law 78—the so-called Bracero Program—to expire on December 31, 1964.

On September 8, 1965 the AWOC local in Delano, made up mainly of Filipinos, called for a strike against local grape growers. On September 16 AWOC was joined in the strike by the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). This marked the beginning of the California grape strike and the national boycott of grapes that was not settled until contracts were signed in 1970. In August, 1966 AWOC and NFWA merged into the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO. Cesar Chavez of NFWA was elected president and Larry Itliong of AW0C was elected one of the vice-presidents.

Arrangement

Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-8), Series 2 (Boxes 9-20), Series 3 (Boxes 21-22) and Series 4 (Boxes 23-31). Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic, surname or name of organization.

Acquisition

The papers of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in 1967.

Related Materials

United Farm Workers collections

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Title
Guide to the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA