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In September of 1965, Filipino and Mexican American grape harvesters working in California started a strike that lasted for five years. The strike became known as the Delano Grape Strike, and the workers collaborated with the United Farm Workers union led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. The grape harvesters faced opposition from the grape growers and law enforcement. It was reported that the water supply was shut off to some of the workers dormitories. Three years into the strike, some of the workers contemplated using violence against the grape growers, but Cesar Chavez stepped in and started a hunger strike. Cesar Chavez’s hunger strike stopped talks of violence and drew more attention to the workers’ plight.
The United Farm Workers asked that American households boycott grapes. The general public supported the farm workers' cause and stopped buying grapes, while dock workers in the union let grapes rot at port instead of loading them on transport. Although the public supported the farm workers, President Nixon supported the grape growers. He told the Defense Department to order more grapes, and the military’s supply of grapes increased by six times. But, due to the public’s support and the steadfastness of the farm workers and union, the grape growers signed contracts with the United Farm Workers in 1970, ending the strike. These contracts set the pay for the workers, set up contributions for a union health plan, and set regulations to ensure workers were protected from the harmful effects of pesticides.
Due to President Nixon’s opposition of the strike, merchandise such as posters, bumper stickers, and buttons were made. “Nixon eats grapes” was a common featured tagline. One poster featured a political cartoon of Nixon stomping on farm workers in a wooden basin as he eats grapes. The buttons were used to oppose Nixon’s re-election in 1972.
Delano Grape Strike Begins. (2019). Retrieved 26 April 2021, from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/delano-grape-strike-begins-ufw
Glass, A. (2018). Nixon reelected in landslide, Nov. 7, 1972. Retrieved 26 April 2021, from https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/07/this-day-in-politics-november-...
Nixon Eats Grapes-5190. Retrieved 26 April 2021, from https://www.legacyamericana.com/Nixon-Eats-Grapes_p_11146.html
Unforgettable Change: 1960s: Chicano Movement. Retrieved 26 April 2021, from http://picturethis.museumca.org/pictures/political-poster-depicting-pres...