A LONG TIME COMING by Richard & Anne Loftis Meister


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The tone of quiet heroism in this episodic history of US agricultural workers and their struggles and blunders towards unionization tips the reader to the authors' rather rosy and idealized account of the coming of the United Farm Workers, Cesar Chavez, and the kind of community-based, grass-roots organization he and they created in the Sixties. Everyone else--from the Wobblies to the Communists to the complacent AFL--attempted to ""organize farm workers as if they were Anglo building tradesmen"" or simply surrendered to the agribusiness growers and their vigilantes. The authors, two journalists, have dispensed with footnotes and the kind of hard documentary evidence that would lend credence to their partisan approach. On the plus side, they do detail the insidious workings of the braceros program which retarded unionization efforts by providing the growers with an endless supply of docile, cheap Mexican labor. And they give a clear--though heavily weighted--account of the ongoing ""jurisdictional dispute"" between Teamsters and the UFW, explaining how the Teamsters got into the pastures of plenty in the first place, and how, with the help of Jerry Brown, the Farm Workers are battling back. Less convincing is the euphoric history of how the Communist-led ILWU blazed the way by unionizing the pineapple and sugar workers of Hawaii. Easy and pleasant to read to a fault, A Long Time Coming is a better apostolic testament than a rigorous history of the organizational problems of seasonal, migrant, and minority-group labor in a semi-feudal enclave of trade unionism.

Pub Date: May 18th, 1977
Publisher: Macmillan