Major Problems In California History
Major Problems In California History
The major arguments in the two essays by Cletus E. Daniel and Devra Anne Weber revolved around the harsh working conditions and poor wages that the farm workers were subjected to in California. These injustices prompted reactions from the farm workers through strikes that were organized by their unions and mutual aid societies in a bid to negotiate for better wages and improved standards of living. The essays also highlight the fact that the farm workforce in California comprised majorly of Mexican workers and a minority of Filipino workers.
Finally, the essays highlight the unsuccessful nature of the attempts by the farm workers to push for reforms in their working and living standards as well as negotiating for wage increase. However, there also exist some differences between the conclusions of the two essays. According to Devra, the Mexican union headed by the Mexican Consul, Terrazas was able to reach an agreement with the growers concerning the conditions and wages of the Mexican workers. The agreement included a wage payment of between twenty five to thirty five cents per hour and thirteen cents a crate.
It also suggested guaranteed access to water to workers furnished by the growers. Devra also records that this agreement was reached without complete support of the union. According to her, the issue of communism was vital in the history of California labor. This comes to light with the agreement of the growers to give protection to their workers against the communist agitators (Weber, 295). Cletus however does not record any instance where such an agreement was reached between union members and growers.
He concludes by showing the plight and helplessness suffered by the farm workers following the failure to procure better working conditions and higher wages. Cletus distanced capitalism as the cause of the problems experienced by the farm workers citing that they believed their problems to be as a result of low wages (Daniel, 288). As far as the difference in the conclusions of the two essays is concerned, the question on the accuracy of the California history of labor comes to mind. This is a problem that is brought about by the uniqueness of each author in interpretation of events and occurrences in history.
This in the two essays is brought to light by the link created by Devra between the problems the growers were experiencing with the farm workers and communist agitators while Cletus explores this issue from a capitalist perspective and its link to the problems experienced by the farm workers. The Imperial Valley episode reveals a number of issues about labor and unionism in the US. To begin with, it highlights the frustrations of the farm workers in terms of poor working and living conditions as well as low wages which led to the surge in protests and strikes.
It is these frustrations that necessitated the participation and formation of unions so as to fight for the rights of the workers following the realization that the only way that they could be heard was only if they acted collectively. Another issue that is revealed is the use of authorities to suppress the unionization attempts of the workers as well as to deny them their rights of assembly and strikes. The growers used city, county, state and federal authorities to quell strikes by the workers.
There also was the unfair trial of the leaders of the unions for example the El Centro trial which were meant to intimidate future leaders of the unions. Finally, it appears that it is the communists that were actively involved in the fight for the rights of the farm workers as well as the unionization attempts. This is because it is the communists that came to head the unions and organize strikes against the growers who were capitalists. References Daniel Cletus E. Communist Organizers in the Imperial Valley Weber Devra A. Mexicano Farm workers on Strike