“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and the needy.” (Proverbs 31:9)
The United Farm Workers’ Union, under the leadership of Cesar Chavez, has called for a nationwide boycott of head (iceberg) lettuce. It would be hard, if not impossible, to communicate the working and living conditions of the migrant farm workers in this article. It is important nevertheless to express at least a portion of what the Farm Workers face.
“Our people,” writes Cesar Chavez, “have been poor for more than we can remember.” He continues, “We have made only a small amount of progress these past ten years of work and struggle. Our women and children still die too often and too young. There is too much hunger and disease among us.”
These conditions affect farm workers who are mostly Black, Brown, and Indian. Living in substandard houses and eating substandard meals, the farm workers struggle to stay alive. They are not asking for a hand-out or for a donation. They are not asking for a free ride. All they are asking for is a right which most working people have in the United States: the right to collective bargain.