By Peter Shapiro
At a time whilst geared up hard work was once in headlong retreat, the Watsonville Canning strike used to be a dramatic exhibit of the facility of girls employees, whose fight turned a rallying element for the Chicano movement.
Apart from its sheer drama, the strikers' tale illuminates the demanding situations dealing with a gaggle of standard operating those who waged a chronic and eventually profitable fight opposed to likely insurmountable odds.
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Additional resources for Song of the Stubborn One Thousand: The Watsonville Canning Strike, 1985-87
Manuel still talks about the experience with insight and eloquence. ” Joe Fahey, who also figures prominently in this story, made essentially the same point in a different way. More than once, he stressed that everybody who participated in the strike or the support work brought something positive to the table and that the strike’s success was a happy confluence of contributions on the part of different forces, often at odds with one another but objectively working toward the same end. He hoped that my work would bring this out in a way that was not always obvious while the strike was happening.
As the person responsible for its labor coverage, I often found myself hard-pressed to find encouraging things to say about what sometimes seemed like a continuing series of disasters. The Watsonville strike was another story. Unity was in good position to cover it, since the League had a history of work in the California canneries, played an active role in the strike, and was able to develop strong relationships with many strikers. More fundamentally, the strike was a badly needed antidote to the confusion and despair that threatened to overwhelm so many union activists in that difficult time.
The area around the fence has been decorated with votive candles, red-green-and-white banners, and a large Mexican flag. The fence itself is adorned with photos—studio portraits, pictures of babies and children, handwritten notes giving thanks for the recovery of an ailing infant or praying for the soul of a departed loved one. A nearby plaque explains: “This is a place of prayer and pilgrimage. It is reported that the Virgin Mary appeared here on June 17, 1992, to Anita Contreras, a mother seeking divine help.