Eighty pickets, many carrying the red and black flag of Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union, walked outside the four entrances to a vineyard in central California owned by the mammoth E. and J. Gallo winery of Modesto. The picketing, one of the calmer confrontations in California’s fertile farm lands in the past few weeks, was in response to Gallo’s plan to switch negotiations to the rival Teamsters’ Union.
The two unions have been vying for control of harvest hands, particularly table-grape and lettuce workers.
Farther south, in the hot, dusty, strife-torn Coachella Valley grape fields, 580 persons clashed on the picket lines June 23 in the worst violence since the strike began last April 16. Fifteen were injured and eleven arrested.
Next day, ninety-five United Church of Christ delegates chartered a jet from St. Louis, where the church was holding its ninth biennial synod, and flew to the scene to show solidarity with Cesar. They walked the line, sometimes only “inches away” from the Teamsters’ “burly, horrible goons,” according to David A. Tillyer of the UCC Office of Communications. The “Coachella 95,” as they came to be known, were given a rousing send-off from 1,000 persons at the St. Louis convention, who sang the civil-rights national anthem: “We Shall Overcome.” After braving 115-degree heat for six hours, they jetted back to report. They said they did not speak to Teamsters (no officials were there, Tillyer said), but they praised Chavez for the “intense calm he showed in the face of Teamsters’ jeers and taunts.”
In a further gesture of support, the Coachella 95 (among whom was National Council of Churches president W. Sterling Cary) returned with two huge crates of UFWU-picked grapes that were passed around at ...1
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