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February 09, 1979 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-02-09

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Page 4-Friday, February 9, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Ohio farm workers face fight against canneries

On Thursday, January 25th, the beginning of
a boycott of Libby's and Campbell's products
was marked by a picket-line locally and
several press conferences across the nation.
This boycott is part of the struggle of far-
mworkers in Ohio to bring about a change in
their living and working conditions. The
boycott was organized by the Farm Labor
Organizing Committee (FLOG), a union
representing Ohio farmworkers that was star-
ted in 1968. The boycott is directed against Lib-
by's and Campbell's because they are the two
largest canneries in the areas where FLOC is
organizing. In order to more fully support the
boycott and the other efforts of the far-
mworkers, it is useful to understand the history
and the present dynamics of their situation.
Farmworkers are among the most oppressed
of all workers in this country, and certainly
among the poorest. The fact that the Ohio far-
mworkers are migrant workers, traveling bet-
ween Texas or Florida and Ohio, means that
they are only in Ohio for several months of the
year. This makes it especially difficult for
them to organize effectively.
THE FARMWORKERS in Ohio are currently
paid 19-24t for a 33 lb. hamper of tomatoes,
which barely makes minimum wage when
picking is good, and doesn't account for the
times when picking is poor or must stop tem-
Most of the camps the workers and their
families live in are far below even the meagre
standards of the state of Ohio, with no inside
plumbing, flimsy plasterboard and nail con-
struction, extension wires for electricity, and
totally inadequate sanitation facilities. These
camps are supposed to nurture the people, in-
cluding children, who do some of the country's

By Erica Salzman'

hardest labor, and who produce much of our
Who is responsible for the farmworkers'
plight? At first glance it would seem to be the
governors, who actually pay the farmworkers
and also run and "keep up" the camps.
However, the growers are for the most part
small or medium sized farmers who have ex-
perienced increasing stress as inflated costs
quickly outpace the growth in their own in-
comes. In addition, the growers don't have all
that much control over their-income or the
decisions which affect it. They sign contracts
with canneries, the most powerful ones being
large national or multi-national corporations or
subsidiaries of these, such as Libby's (a sub-
sidiary of Nestles) and Campbell's.
These contracts specify the amount of
tomatoes the canneries will buy from eachgr-
ower, and the contracts severely limit the
growers' option to sell any extra produce,
especially to other canneries. In addition the
canneries sell the growers their tomato seed, or
young tomato plants, tell them when to spray
what on the fields, inspect the farmerworker
camps, and in general oversee the whole of the
tomato operation.
So that, in fact, the growers, who are under
contract to only grow a certain amount, and to
get a certain price for what they grow, must
squeeze all their costs within the amount they
have contracted to receive. From their point of
view the labor and housing costs of the far-
mworkers are a major cost of operation, to be
minimized wherever possible. Most moderate
size growers are not wealthy, or in a position to

give the farmworkers what they need and
A breakdown of the gross receipts from the
tomato industry shows that 83 per cent of these
receipts go to the canneries and retail outlets,
whereas farmers get 9 per cent and both the
migrant workers and cannery workers only 4
per cent each. The farmer is in a similar
position to the farmworker in terms of power
and revenue when they are each compared to
the cannery. If anyone is in a position to give
more, it is the cannery rather than the farmer.
A contract between farmer and farmworker
which doesn't include the cannery puts the
responsibility on the farmer, which is unfair
and unrealistic in light of where the money is.
ALTHOUGH IT is clear to the farmworkers
at this point that they must be included in con-
tract negotiations with the canneries and far-
mers, the canneries refuse to negotiate or even
admit that they have any responsibility for the
conditions of the farmworkers. Their position is
that they contract with the growers "at fair and
reasonable prices" and that that is as far as
their responsibility goes.
Included in the farmworkers demands, aside
from three-way contracts, are such things as a
raise in minimum hamper-rate, a minimum
hourly wage for when the piece-rate falls too
low, minimum work hours guaranteed per
week, seasonal transportation costs, some
medical coverage, some improvements in
housing conditions, and some guaranteed
coverage for farmworker crew leaders. Last
August, the farmworkers finally decided to
strike since their efforts to get the canneries
and growers to negotiate had failed. About 2000
farmworkers refused to pick tomatoes
throughout the harvest.

The farmworkers plan to strike against the
growers again this summer and as long as they
need to in order to win their struggle. The sup-
port they receive from consumers in boycotting
Campbell's and Libby's products is very im-
portant in terms of the economic pressure
brought to bear on these companies and more
importantly in terms of the canneries'
awareness of the broad base of public support
that the farmworkers have.
ANYONE WHO CAN give support to the
farmworkers by boycotting Campbell's and
Libby's products and by writing to these com-
panies to let them know of such actions is
making a contribution to the farmworkers'
struggle for self-determination. In Ann Arbor,
the FLOG support group is affiliated with
Science-for-the-People, whose office is in 4104
of the Michigan Union.
It is important not to make the mistake of
feeling remote from issues like the far-
mworkers' struggle. We are depending on their
labor to produce much of the food we eat, a
vital concern for everyone. If it is hard to em-
pathize with the farmworkers simply because
most of pur lives are more comfortable, we
should remember that our comfort is not
"free" and that others such as the far-
mworkers shouldn't pay its price through. their
own exploited labor.
Erica Salzman is a member of the Ann
Arbor Science-for-the-People FLOG sup-
port group.

-Photo by K. Yih



420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Eigh ty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom

Advertisers and YOU

Vol. LXXXIX, No. 109

News Phone: 764-0552a

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Farmers come up empty

W HEN LOBBYISTS converge on
Washington, D.C., they usually
come by plane, train, or car. This
week, members of the American
Agricultural Movement (AAM) tried
something new. They came by tractor.-
. The expressed purpose of the far-
mers' tractorcade-which managed to
snarl traffic in the nation's capital bet-
ter than anything since the last bus
diivers strike-was to get added
publicity for their pleas for higher crop
price supports. The farmers did
manage to get publicity, but most of it
centered on the demonstration itself,
and not the reasons they went to
Washington in the first place.
#This is a pity. There are about 2.2
niillion farm owners in this country,
who must feed the nation's over 200
million mouths. And while food prices
have been rising, most of the farmers
hAve not been seeing those increases,
s' ce they have been eaten up by
nianufacturers and middlemen.
-Many farmers, especially the
agribusinessmen, are doing better now
than they were last year, when AAM
first marched on. Washington. But

many others are still having trouble
keeping their heads above water, and
need and deserve help.
Their tactics, however, while
ingenious, seem to have hurt their
cause more than they helped it. After
Monday's traffic fiasco ahd some un-
fortunate clashes between angry far-
mers and policemen, the group of far-
mers was herded unceremoniously in-
to an enclosure on the Mall in front of
the Capitol like so many cattle.
Another problem is that the farmers
seem to have spent more of their time
deciding which strategic traffic ar-
teries to block than they did in
preparing their case. An angry
Agriculture Secretary Robert
Bergland Wednesday said he would not
give in to the farmers, citing, among
other things, their failure to get their
acts together.
Clearly, many of the nation's far-
mers are getting a raw deal. But with
20 months until the next election, and
Congress faced with a session devoted
to tightening the belt, the AAM would
be better served by developing a
strong case than by blocking traffic.

Americans aren't hermits.
People like to converse, play
guitars, eat, and even care about
other humans. Even at the Un-
dergraduate Library, where
students supposedly go to pursue
individual academic interests, in-
teraction among students is more
the rule than the exception.
But judging by advertisements
in today's magazines, Americans
are caring, concerned in-
dividuals-but only about them-
selves. Magazine ads encourage
the narcissistic aspect of human
WHETHER IT be for an an-
tacid or a guitar, the message is a
self-centered "you" message.
Advertisers are obsessed by it. In
the copy of a widely used Xerox
ad the word "you ismentioned
a noticeable ten per cent of the
Americans are, of course, more
concerned about the personal
image they relay than they have
been in the past; personal uplif-
ting has become popular. People
are running, exercising, eating
selectively, getting their faces lif-
ted, and even counseling them-
selves. But it seems like the ads
have taken the "me, only me" at-
titude too far-to the point where
people are expected to feel
superior and condone greed.
Granted, advertising agencies-
are trying to make the most out of
the "me generation." But in
playing up self-centeredness,
they are only perpetuating it.
IT'S EASY to find ads telling
people they deserve only the best.
The strategy in such ads is that
they compliment the con-
sumer-everyone likes being told
they have high standards. But
what advertisers are doing is
coaxing consumers into spending
more money for higher-priced
Consider a Yamaha guitar ad:
"It takes two to make a great
guitar. You and Yamaha. You
demanded only the world's best
woods." This ad is effective
because it immediately com-
municates with "you"-the in-
dividual reader-and the guitar
manufacturer. Realistically,
however, how many people really
care about having the best woods
in their guitars? But the ad tells
readers that they should care
because they aren't just ordinary
More cigarettes ads aren't any
less "you" directed than Yamaha
ads: "We offer you More. You'll

By Richard Berke

never accept anything less."
That ad justifies snobbism-it
takes for granted that readers
wouldn't dare stoop to a lower
class cigarette. These ads play up
to peoples' need to feel extraor-
dinary .

Many of the ads show healthy,
good-looking people who eviden-
tly don't know or, care about can-
cer; they want only to please
themselves. People identify with
these ads and thus are able to
rationalize their smoking. Ohly in
cigarettepads isbthe everpresent
"me"~ replaced by the more self-

public (not to mention televison)
cannot help but to reinforce
peoples' perceptions ofa society
where only the individual is im-
portant; a modern "survival of
the fittest" generation where the
idea of working together is ob-
WHILE THERE is no harm in
having confident, self-centered
people, magazine ads promote
only that sort of behavior. It's not
fair for ad agencies to determine
values for the public, especially
since profits are the sole
motivation behind the peddling of
morals. How can anyone feel
truly secure about :heeding the
words of an ad that is designed to
cater to millions of individual
people all at once?
Holiday; Inn says it exists to
"please you." But pRhaps people
should begin realizing that
Holiday Inn has but one motive: to
7%nknif lf hi nf nfinom n v

that within the "you"
framework, various manufac-
turers have found niches where
specific approaches are most ef-
fective. Among automobile com-.
panies, for instance, materialism
is emphasized. Ads urge con-
sumers to spend money because
it's time they do something for
themselves. In essence, if you
respect yourself you should spend
money on yourself.
A Chrysler ad tells readers to
forget about everyone else and
think about themselves: "Now
put yourself in the picture when
you buy or lease a new Cordoba."
And Chevrolet comes right out
and insists that the readers are
special people: "You're unique.
Special. You're you. So why not
break away from the crowd in a
new Monte Carlos."
These auto companies are
pushing readers into spending
money by playing up the fact that'
they should get the very
best-even when it means
shelling out an extra few
thousand dollars. Only by down-
playing costs and telling readers
they must purchase a luxury car
are auto companies able to sell
their wares at such high prices.
JUST AS THE car manufac-
turers use a persuasive formula
to get people to pay thousands for
their merchandise, cigarette
producers use a common theme
to sell their product and over-
come the fact that they are
promoting a hazardous habit.
The approach in cigarette ads is
one of self-satisfaction and greed.

serving and individualistic "I": s eing ui
"I earned this smoke," says a spending cus
Real ad. "Salem gives me the
flavor I wanit," says another. "I
smoke because I enjoy it," states RichardL
a vantage ad. "If it wasn't for Managing
Winston Lights, I wouldn't today, this
smoke. And the list goes on and
on... ten by men
This bombardment of "you" senior staff
and "I" on the magazine reading Friday.

r y attracting money-
Berke is the Daily's
Editor.. Starting
column, to be writ-
ibers of the Daily's
, will appear every





Dorm resident blasts staff on Prop D

- .

To the Daily:
It is amazing to me that the
Markley resident staff
challenged the Daily over their
coverage of the effects of
Proposition D (see letter dated
Feb. 6-story in Sunday
Magazine) in the dormitories. It
is first of all very clear from the
article that the 'Daily is quite

found out some things from your
reporter. On top of that, the fear
was expressed that this nosing
around had not only made the
strict enforcement of the rules a
greater possibility, but that jobs
were on the line.
It's nauseating to read the staf-
fers as they publicly kiss ass:

tal to Zorn's article, it is an ad-
denda: The new law has created
a whole new market for deception
and hypocrisy.
-Markley Resident
To the Daily:
We are unhappy with the

thought. Comments like "you're
going to be sorry you didn't zap
our friends Pixie and Dixie" and
"I say'fry 'em and have 'em for
lunch" try to make something
cute out of suffering, and they are
no more acceptable as humor
than jokes made at the expense of
human victims of torture. As you
noted, "No animals were present


I 'd% M


" ' . ...._~

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