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How do you Evaluate the Role of the Communist Party among California Farmworkers - Essay Example

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How do you evaluate the role of the Communist Party among the California Farm workers? Heroes or Zeroes? Or something in between? The Communist Party of America did not establish a significant stronghold on the lives of the agricultural proletariat of California until the 1930s, but helped to organize one of the most disruptive and turbulent strikes in the American history by the agricultural proletariat…
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How do you Evaluate the Role of the Communist Party among California Farmworkers
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"How do you Evaluate the Role of the Communist Party among California Farmworkers"

Download file to see previous pages Before the intervention of the communists, the Mexican farm workers staged a short-lived cantaloupe strike in 19281 in the Imperial Valley that showed that the workers were incapable of bridging the ethnic divide that existed amongst them and of organizing their ranks. Later on, when the Lettuce farm workers rose up demanding better wages, the Communist Party of United States, propelled by the wave of communism spreading half the world away in Russia, sent its workers to help the protesting farm workers in 1929. The Communist Party formed the Traders Union Unity League (TUUL). According to Daniel E. Cletus, who chronicled the role of the communists in the strikes of 1930s, the involvement of the communists in the lettuce strike of 1930 ‘marked the beginning of a new period of conflict in agricultural labor relations in California’2. Though the communists were at this point spurred more by opportunism than any genuine concern for the welfare of the workers, and the strike itself deteriorated due to the arrest of the communists and the harsh repression tactics employed by authorities, the strike was the first of many, more effective strikes involving communists to come later on. About forty agricultural strikes took place between the years 1930 to 19323, before the TUUL gave way to the Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union (CAWIU), also organized by the Communist Party. The CAWIU sought to organize workers in canneries for mass picketing, but after several arrests of the strikers, the employers’ determination to quell the protests won through and the modest demands of the workers failed to get a hearing. The failure of the CAWIU in organizing an effective campaign disillusioned the workers and many of them returned to work. It is worthy to note, however, that the CAWIU began to provide experienced leaders to the workers who would organize the undisciplined masses in to a much more synchronized entity that would later achieve much more victories than defeats. Before the peach strike of 1933 began, the Dust Bowl Immigrants ensured that a surplus of labor, in addition to the Mexican and Filipino workers already present, existed at all times. The wages were shamefully minimal, and the lack of jobs ensured that regardless of how unsatisfied the workers were, they could not leave their jobs. The discontent produced what Kushner describes as one of the two ‘important CAWIU-led strikes in August 1933 also helped set the stage for the cotton strike’4. The peach strike was one of the first victories of the union, having won 25 and 27 ? cents per hour after four days of protesting. The extent of the involvement of the American communists in the strikes of the Californian Farm Workers became obvious when the Cotton Strike broke out. The Cotton Strike is unarguably the most significant of the 1930s’ agricultural strikes, and was also the most violent and lasted longer than the other strikes. The communists had by then learned many bitter lessons, and were realizing the futility of trying to direct unplanned, volatile protests that kept breaking out. The success of the Peach Strike had taught them the importance of organization. Another notable feature of the protests organized by the CAWIU was that they were devoid of any violence, and hence, impelled ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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