For more on the unfortunate efforts by Cesar Chavez and the UFW to sabotage the field organizing work of MCOP and the AFW beginning in 1978, I recommend a 2014 book by Pasadena author Miriam Pawel entitled THE CRUSADES OF CESAR CHAVEZ to which I contributed an extensive interview and related documents. Pawel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with a quarter-century background variously at NEWSDAY and the LOS ANGELES TIMES.
In that book’s Chapter 35, Pawel does an excellent job in presenting Chavez’ ego-driven opposition to independent organizing efforts in Texas, Arizona, and elsewhere which, had they been encouraged as eventual UFW “locals,” could have moved the UFW toward becoming a real national farm labor union, not just one only active in California.
But sadly, with the UFW essentially organized like the Roman Catholic Church with Chavez as the infallible Pope, he was more concerned about his personal control of events than he was about genuinely expanding the farm labor movement. While that’s even a questionable model for a widespread religious institution, it clearly can’t work for a farm labor union with country-wide potential. An extraordinary opportunity indeed was lost when Chavez and the UFW effectively joined with growers elsewhere in opposition to such independent organizing efforts and to the very concept of “locals.”
A prior Chapter 21 in Pawel’s book also chronicles Chavez’ earlier activities in Arizona involving the late Gustavo Gutierrez, my old MCOP and AFW colleague. Gustavo’s wife Raquel, now deceased as well, served as the registered nurse caring for Chavez during his long 1972 “fast“ in Arizona.
Over the next few years another book on the experiences of Mexican National farm workers in the U.S., Arizona included, is expected from the pen of Stanford University Prof. Ana Minian. It also will encompass the organizing history and accomplishments of the AFW and affiliated organizations on both sides of the Arizona/Mexico border. If interested, watch for Minian’s book.
Copyright © 2016 Don Devereux, All Rights Reserved
Journalists, historians, teachers, and students are free to quote from any of this material in writings of their own, provided that they do so with proper attribution and acknowledgement of applicable copyrights.
Good to hear the AFW story is getting out. But I always thought your remark: “And there were were with 3,000 workers out on a wildcat strike with no strike funds …” is the proper beginning, along with Lupe’s argument to the judge: “Since the grower doesn’t supply any housing, a man’s tree is his castle and that requires a 90-day eviction notice.”
At least that’s how I remember it.
Hi, Bill: It’s always good to hear from you, and if you’re ever over this way again let’s have lunch or a beer. But better sooner than later. Hard as it may be to believe, I seem to be getting old.
I am 40 years young and 1st read the Arizona Project while I was in college about 20 years ago that inspired me to collect oral history on film.. I am working on an oral history project and looking for some info on the AFW/MCOP and I was cross checking some names. Your name came up, as well as Lupe Sanchez so Thank you for posting a picture of the man as well as your so it gives me a better mental visual. I have lived in Glendale Arizona all my life and my father once told me about Arrowhead ranch since it was way before my time of any real recollections, but did not believe it till I read the Arizona Project.
I’m happy to have been able to contribute to your knowledge of the history of Arrowhead Ranch, an interesting place indeed. If you’re not already aware, a lot of material on MCOP/AFW efforts back in the 1970s
and 1980s is archived with the Chicano Studies Program at ASU in Tempe. I’m still living in Arizona, of course, while Lupe Sanchez by last reports now is residing back in Mexico.