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August 01, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-08-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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The Breadbasket Bites Back

Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Thursday, August 1, 1974
News Phone: 764 0552

Nixon's Nielson,
T1'HE NEWEST SUMMER replacement show has been
airing nationally for nearly a working week.
The much-debated broadcasting of the ongoing im-
peachment proceedings will have equally debatable ef-
fects on our national perception and comprehension of
the impeachment of our current elected President.
Sandwiching the arguments of the plosive scarlet-
necked Sandman and the laryngitis-voiced Chairman
Rodino between catchy ads for antiperspirant and dish-
washing liquids during daytime television hours brings
the usually unseen workings of Congress to a visible
surface. The imneaehment nroceedings, like the Water-
gate hearings earlier in the year, have attained a unique
rating as a political span opera, complete with observ-
able reistionshins between members of the 38-person
cast. Showing a full-face close-up of an impassioned
Renresentative arching a point of constitutional law both
exposes the mass watching audience to the legislative
process and personalizes the legislator. The work of
Congress, often considered the generation of wind by the
winded generation, becomes the drama of elected actors
when Camera 3 brings their faces and voices over the
RCA into the family living room.
ONE OF THE LARGEET problems of televising the hear-
ings is the medium itself nespite the increased net-
work attempts to broareist informntive public service
programs. television is still considered by the masses to
be an entert:inment medium Peonle flin the "on" button
and sit in front of the screen to he amused or moved
by drama a"r -tnrin-e iiinormntion on television is limit-
ed in the nublic mind to an hour of local and national
news a da.
Althouah we are niuuhtly reminded by Walter Cron-
kite of the cnie of history that nermeates every House
roll call vote. we may still find it difficult to put the
proceedings in their proper historical perspective.
A national view of the imneachment proceedings
as an extended Movie of the Week may increase public
awareness of the nrocedure and the individuals involved,
but ma 'isis' e the ntlica s distorted perceptionsof the real-
ity anid the sieni-ifies)nee of the proceedings. Whatever
a person's intestinal feelings for or against Richard Nixon,
his imneachm ent is a solemn business. Whatever the out-
come of the imneachment attempt, the repercussions for
the entire country will be worldwide and the attempt
itself will be an indelible part of our national history.
THE PROCEFDINGS MUST be taken seriously by the
viewing nublic. Live television coverage gives the watch-
ing American a valuable front row center view of one of
the most important and real dramas in the near-200
years of our existence as a free country. The danger in
the prime time broadcast of the House steps toward im-
peachment is the minimization of public recognition of
the significance of the nearing impeachment of an
American president and the public rating of a real and
powerful political issue on the Nielson scale.

LAMONT, CALIFORNIA - The caravan of
eight vehicles headed out of this one-story, single
drag town south of Bakersfield one day last
week, making its way between the long, empty
rows of grape vines. The rear of a pick-up truck
was crammed with people and red flags, more
red flags flapped from the windows and the
sound of "vivas" carried across the fields.
It was one of several small, roving United
Farmworkers (UFW) picket lines still active in
the upper San Joaquin Valley, a year after Ce-
sar Chavez's union lost most of its table grape
contracts to the Teamsters.
Several miles out of town the pick-up suddenly
dived to the shoulder, followed by the others.
Waving their banners and 'shouting "Huelga!
Viva huelga!-", some fifty men and women of
all ages poured onto the side of the road. Here
and there, huddled under the six foot high rows
of vines, were about two dozen grape pickers.
The pickers turned their heads, some of them
smiled and waved, but they all went on with
their work.
IT IS USUALLY this way. An estimated 5-6,000
farm laborers are at work this summer in the
vineyards around Lamont; only 35 families are
being supported on strike benefits out of the
UFW field office. The picketers have been out
with their strike flags every day since March,
but few workers have come out of the fields to
join them.
From the good-humored Spanish-language
heckling and rejoinder heard along the picket
line last week, however, workers retain their
sympathies for the UFW.
"Brothers and sisters, join us!" shouted a
short, pot-bellied picketer with his two fists raised
over his head. "Why do you continue to work for
the bosses when you should join us on the picket
"People need work," responded an adolescent.
"We have obligations, bills to pay, we cannot af-
ford to strike. Boycott the grapes in the store.
That way you will tell the bosses."
"THEN PICK THE GRAPES, don't clean
"But we have to clean the grapes," replied'
the boy, pruning away at a bunch of fruit with
his shears. "There are government inspectors,
they will fire us if they find out."
Over a loudspeaker strapped to the cab of the
nick-up a man accused the Teamsters of mak-
ing illegal deductions from paychecks. Another
took over the microphone and began singing a
song about a little donkey who worked too hard.
Up and dowi the line, some fifty yards long,
erouns of picketers gathered under their flags
for shade and concentrated on the workers clos-
est to them.
"Senorita, you are too pretty to be a scab,"
shouted a young man in a lavender shirt. "Why
did you come all the way from Mexicali in order
to take away our jobs?"
"Some grapes, let's have some grapes," de-
manded a young female picketer.
MAYBE IF YOU put these in your mouth, you
won't yell at me so much," replied a worker as
he handed over a- bunch.
"They are no good, they should have been
nicked this morning," said a disgusted UFW sup-
porter as he spat a grape onto the ground.
When the picketers turned abusive, it was us-
ially in reference to the workers' place of origin.
The majority of the UFW supporters are local
residents, while many of the workers are mi-
grants from Mexico, Texas and southern Califor-

"'Some grapes. let's have
some grapes,' demanded a
young female picketer.
'Maybe if you put these in your
mouth, you won't yell at me so
much,' replied a worker as he
handed over a bunch."
"C'mon little flower," growled an elderly, grim
UFW supporter at a young woman. "Have you
got a paper, or are you a wetback?"
"Hey, there's immigration!" shouted a picket-
er as a crop dusting plane flew overhead.
This summer Chavez has been charging, not
only that there are more illegal immigrants from
Mexico than ever before, but also that a con-
spiracy exists between the Nixon administration
and agro-business to admit illegals in large num-
bers to break UFW strikes. Authorities dismiss
the charges as absurd, but also admit they are
so short-handed they cannot police farm areas
adequately. While the U. S. Bureau of Naturaliz-
ation and Immigration caught and returned 670,-
000 illegal aliens to Mexico last year, a spokes-
person has conceeded this may be only ten or
twenty per cent of the total.
THE BOYCOTT OF non-UFW table grapes and
Gallo Wine is the main effort now. After the
growers began signing over the UFW's hard-won
but expiring contracts to the Teamsters in April,
1973, thousands of workers up and down the San
Joaquin Valley struck. In the Lamont area as
many as 1,500 UFW supporters picketed the
ranches on some days last summer. Besides
being arrested by the hundreds, some were
sprayed with pesticide and others were beaten
by Tamster thugs. Two were killed, one by a
sniper's bullet fired from a field and the other
by police.
By the middle of August, 1973, 63 court injunc-
tions had been handed down against the UFW,
3,389 picketers had been arrested, violence had
continued to escalate and the fields were still full
of workers. It was at this point that Chavez
called in the remaining picketers and sent hun-
dreds of them across the country to start the
MEANWHILE, THE UFW newspaper El Ma-
criado is full of stories of "Chavistas" revolting
against the Teamster stewardship; complaints
center on alleged Teamster racism toward farm-
workers and the labor contract or system which
the Teamster contract has reinstated in place of
the UFW hiring hall. Crop sabotage, in the form
of uncleaned grapes sent to market, is at an all-
time high. If elections could be held tomorrow,
UFW supporters say again and again, their union
would defeat the Teamsters hands down. There
is no chance of that, however, as farmworkers
are not covered under the National Labor Rela-
tions Act and so are not entitled to elections. The
Teamster contracts expire in 1976.
Despite its crushing reverse in the vineyard's
last summer, the UFW has recently demonstrated
its strike power in the fields. In May the union
seriously disrupted the $19 million strawberry
harvest in Ventura County, shutting down a num-
ber of berry farms in a chain of strikes which
the UFW claims involved 2,000 workers. No con-
tracts were won, but once again- it would be
said that: "Red strike flags of the UFW were
flying over empty fields yesterday as . . ."

Govs (es)chew solution
to world food crisis

- After a breakfast of fresh
strawberries marinated in
champagne, fish crepes w i t h
cheese sauce, scrambled eggs
with chives and pecan rolls,
Midwest Governors sat down to
discuss the world food crisis
The American Petroleum In-
stitute picked up the tab for
the gourmet meal, after which
the governors heard experts
voice fears that millions of
people face starvation in the
years ahead.
In the afternoon, governors
attending the Midwestern Gov-

ernors Conference took a break
to play golf or tennis.
Most panelists in the food
crisis discussion stressed the
need for the United States to
take more of a leadership role
in addressing the problem.
urge the government to provide
leadership and take the right
steps," Sen. Hubert H. Hum-
phrey, D-Minn., the moderator,
told conferees. "Let's get on
with it."
"Our government can help by
encouraging farmers to produce
more food. This can be accomp-
lished by establishing p r o -

grams to provide fair crop pric-
es," Humphrey said.
Tony De Chant, national pres-
ident of the Farmers Union,
said this nation should exert the
same kind of leadership in ag-
riculture as it exerts in t h e
cause of peace.
"Where is our leadership in
world agriculture?" he asked.
"At this time when crisis
looms our agriculture leader-
ship drags its feet, calling for
business as usual, refusing the
kinds of compromises that must
occur between two nations n
order to achieve agreements,
whether for peace or plenty."

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