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The Watsonville Canning Strike: History, Lessons, Current Implications


Thirty years ago, before NAFTA wiped out the domestic frozen food industry, Watsonville, California was “frozen jfood capital of the world.” In September 1985, 1,000 mostly Mexicana workers at the town’s largest plant were forced out on strike when the owner tried to bust their union. Few if any of the women had any strike experience. Their Teamsters local was barely functioning. But they organized themselves, held out for 18 months, forced the plant owner into bankruptcy, and won a contract from the new owner after a five-day wildcat. This panel will discuss the dramatic victory of the Watsonville huelgistas and what it means for us today.
SATURDAY August 25, 2018 - 8:50pm to 9:00pm
Room 3


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Author, Song of the Stubborn One Thousand: The Watsonville Canning Strike 1985-87. Retired letter carrier, labor journalist (six years as editor of the B-Mike, publication of National Association of Letter carriers Branch 82; ten years as labor editor of Unity); founding member, Health Care for All-Oregon; former board member, Labor Campaign for Single Payer and Oregon Working Families Party.

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Communities for a Better Environment
Bill Gallegos was Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) one of the leading environmental justice organizations in the country from 2006-2014. Bill first became active in the 1960’s with the Crusade for Justice, an outstanding Chicano civil rights organization. Bill has also been a labor, campus, and community organizer. Since becoming executive director at CBE, the organization has achieved landmark regulation of oil refinery flaring (the highly toxic practice of burning off excess gases into the air), and in leading local campaigns that could have a significant impact in reducing greenhouse gases and co-pollutants, improving public health, and advancing the transformation to clean alternative energy. Bill is currently active with Building Equity and Alignment for Impact (BEAI) a national initiative to build stronger partnership between grassroots environmental justice organizations, green groups, and the philanthropic community. One of the primary goals of the BEAI is to address the funding disparity between green groups and grassroots organizations. Bill has recently authored a case study entitled “The Perfect Storm That is Taking Down Chevron” a study of an African American, Latino, and Laotiian social movement in Richmond, California that successfully challenged a Chevron Oil Company project to refiner dirtier grades of crude oil.

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Associate Editor, Pacific News Service
Author and photojournalist: En Campos del Norte (In the Fields of the North), The Right to Stay Home, Children of NAFTA, Illegal People, Communities without Borders

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