Promise Unfulfilled: Unions, Immigration, and the Farm Workers / Edition 1

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In 1975, after vigorous campaigning by the United Farm Workers union, the state of California passed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA), a pioneering self-help strategy granting farm workers the right to organize into unions. A quarter century later, only a tiny percentage of farm workers in the state belong to unions, and wages remain less than half of those of nonfarm employees. Why did the ALRA fail? One of the nation's foremost authorities on farm workers here explores the reasons behind its unfulfilled promise.Philip L. Martin examines the key features of the farm labor market in California, including the shifting ethnicity of the worker pool and the evolution of the major unions, beginning with the Wobblies. Finally, he reviews the impact of immigration on agriculture in the state.Today, many states look to the California experience to assess whether the ALRA can serve as a model for their own farm labor relations laws. In Martin's view, California's efforts to grant rights to farm workers so that they can help themselves have failed because of continued unauthorized migration and the changing structure of farm employment. Martin argues that alternative policies would make farming profitable, raise farm worker wages, and still keep groceries affordable.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Philip L. Martin writes eloquently about Mexican workers . . . illegal immigrants who pick the lettuce, grapes, and strawberries that make their way to dining room tables from Salinas to Santa Rosa and Seattle. . . . Martin does not conceal his sense of disappointment about the current plight of immigrants who toil in the fields."—Jonah Raskin, Santa Rosa, CA Press Democrat, December 7, 2003

"Promise Unfulfilled covers how the burden of proof shifts from employer to employee as ULP cases develop, the changes in policy for punishing, hiring, or rehiring illegal residents, and the reason farm workers traditionally have relied on boycotts and pickets rather than strikes. And Martin has not forgotten direct action, including 'dirty picking' (harvesting the worst of a crop or just stems, leaves, and roots to jam the works), scab confrontations, and wildcats."—Andrew Linke, Industrial Worker, October 2004

"This book examines why the efforts of Californian reformers in the 1970s and beyond have failed to improve farm worker wages and alleviate poverty in this industry. It examines the history and operation of the California Agricultural Labour Relations Act (ALRA), the key unions, the employers and the changes in immigration policy over the past quarter-century and arrives at a clear and definite analysis of the important factors. . . . Martin writes in a clear, concise, and engaging manner. . . . Promise Unfulfilled is recommended to anybody interested in the role of immigrant workers in a Western capitalist economy, industrial relations and its history in the United States and the economics of immigration and industrial relations."—Santina Bertone, Victoria University, Journal of Industrial Relations September 2004

"In Promise Unfulfilled, Philip L. Martin explains why most attempts to improve the lot of farm workers have failed and how current policy debates will shape the future. His book is the best available analysis of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act and the Agricultural Labor Relations Board."—Bert Mason, California State University, Fresno, and former member of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board

"This book is a very useful overview of farm labor market issues. Philip Martin presents a balanced and well-considered discussion of the issues that arose when California farm workers were granted rights previously available to non-farm workers throughout the nation."—Don Villarejo, founder and director emeritus, California Institute for Rural Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801488757
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: What Went Wrong? 1
Pt. I Farm Labor and Unions 7
1 California Farm Labor 9
2 History of Farm Labor 32
3 Farm Worker Unions 57
Pt. II Unions and Collective Bargaining 91
4 The ALRA, ALRB, and Elections 93
5 Employer and Union Unfair Labor Practices 115
6 Strikes and Remedies 144
Pt. III Unions and Immigration 161
7 Nontraditional Farm Worker Unions 163
8 Immigration and Agriculture 180
Notes 197
Bibliography 219
Index 225
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