Hansen’s History: Teamsters to Negotiate Farm Workers Contracts

Editor’s note: This is another in the ongoing series of historical items reprinted from earlier editions of the Rocky Mountain Teamster.

January, 1973
Teamsters union officials pledged the full support of the IBT by General President Fitzsimmons, have decided to re-negotiate a contract with some 170 growers under which about 30,000 farm workers harvest and process crops in various parts of California, Arizona and Colorado.

The decision came after the leaders of unions in a half dozen western states, along with Conference Director Einar Mohn and President Fitzsimmons met at the Conference headquarters in Burlingame with three members of the Roman Catholic Bishops Committee.

For some time these clergymen – Bishop Joseph Donnelly of Hartford. Conn., Msgr. George Higgins of Washington and Msgr. Roger Mahoney of
Fresno – have been striving, without success, to resolve issues dealing with organization of agricultural workers.

The meeting enabled all parties to join in a general discussion of the farm labor situation.

Bishop Donnelly emphasized his Committee’s interest in reaching a peaceful solution and, in this, all Teamsters agree.

He stressed that his Committee was strictly non-partisan — not partial to any one union-but conceded its mediation efforts had produced no results.

Moreover, they could offer no assurance that further delays and discussions would produce results.

A day before the Burlingame meeting Fitzsimmons, during an address to the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Los Angeles, reiterated his belief that bringing farm workers under the National Labor Relations Act would “bring peace to the fields in A1nerica!”

Fitzsimmons was critical of the Fann Bureau’s generally bad “track record on labor legislation and urged the growers to make “some drastic changes in attitudes which were developed in the 19th century and have survived modern economic approaches.”

Dealing directly with the boycotting of lettuce by the United Farm Workers, Fitzsimmons reminded growers that “90 pct. of all lettuce grown and harvested in California and Arizona is handled by union workers, and only nine pct. of this by United Farm Workers.”

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