DiGiorgio Election Campaign

DiGiorgio Election Campaign

Altar chapel sitting on a station wagon, Delano, 1966. Photo by John Kouns.

The DiGiorgio campaign at the Sierra Vista Ranch was not particularly violent. Fred Ross trained and supervised a group of 40 organizers, including Eliseo Medina, Roberto Bustos, Esequiel Carranza, Ruth Trujillo, and Alice Tapia. He taught them how to keep records on index cards with basic information about each worker and how to get people to commit to voting for the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). He established a system with several categories—Yes, Maybe Yes, No, Maybe No, and Undecided. Each night, all organizers have to explain why they thought each person was rated and discuss the accuracy of each evaluation. These discussions became an essential learning tool for all organizers, whose goal was to grow the Yes pile daily.

The organizers leafleted in the morning, went to the Sierra Vista Ranch in the afternoons, and spent the evenings in town. After an injunction barring NFWA pickets and organizers from gathering on the road opposite DiGiorgio fields, a group of women, including sisters Antonia and María Saludado, suggested that the union set up a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe there instead, and hold a prayer meeting. César Chávez liked the idea and asked his brother Richard to convert Cesar’s old station wagon into a mobile chapel. The police couldn’t enforce an injunction against a religious ceremony. The union started holding mass every evening in front of the station wagon for other farmworkers, union supporters, and DiGiorgio workers who had just come off the job. The mass included a meeting, spiritual songs, and the signing of authorization cards. “It was a beautiful demonstration of the power of nonviolence,” said César Chávez

Meeting with farmworkers of the DiGiorgio company

Eliseo Medina (second from left) and AFL-CIO representative Eddie Olmos (third  from left) attend a meeting with farmworkers of the DiGiorgio company. Delano, California, August 1966. Photo courtesy of Eliseo Medina.

Organizers attend a meeting

Donna Haber, Pete Cardenas, Ruth Trujillo, and Alice Tapia attend a meeting. They are sitting on the floor leaning against a wall. Trujillo and Tapia were organizers of the DiGiorgio campaign. Delano, California, 1966. Photo by Emmon Clarke.


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