THE MISSION SAN MIGUEL
“The whole world is watching..."
After a few weeks, Chavez neared the key battleground of the Salinas Valley. The UFW had strong support, but the rival Teamsters union had signed dozens of sweetheart contracts and would fight to keep them.
So the UFW had to battle both the growers and the Teamsters – who often worked in concert.
Marshall Ganz, in charge of the organizing campaign in Salinas, wanted to make maximum use of Chavez’s march. On July 21, Ganz called a general meeting and posted a giant map that showed the route of the march and Chavez’s progress day-by-day.
“I saw him yesterday,” Marshall told the crowd. “He’s in very good health; just a little pain in his feet. He’s very happy with the work that he’s done on this march. He’s met with farmworkers already in about 18 different towns and cities. And all of them want to organize.’’
Marshall coached the workers on the need to march with flags emblazoned with the names of the dozens of lettuce and vegetable companies -- “It’s very important that each company has a banner, so that it’s very clear the extent of strength in the valley.”
Chavez would reach the southern end of the 100-mile-long valley in four days, Marshall said. “The whole world is watching this caminata. The press, the public, the whole world … and especially here in Salinas. Everyone knows that Salinas is an area of great strength for the union.” Crowds had been thin, and Marshall suggested some workers should greet Chavez when he entered the valley and accompany him during the week-long march to Salinas. Loud applause greeted the idea. Four days later, and each morning for a week, a bus left the Salinas UFW office to take workers to join the march. More than 100 farmworkers greeted Chavez as he entered the valley and marched with him to the Mission San Miguel, where he spent the night.
Cesar Chaves explains the march.
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