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The Fruits of Their LaborAtlantic Coast Farmworkers and the Making of Migrant Poverty, 1870-1945$
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Cindy Hahamovitch

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780807846391

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807899922_hahamovitch

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The Union as Padrone: The “Underground Railroad” during the Second World War

The Union as Padrone: The “Underground Railroad” during the Second World War

(p.182) 8 The Union as Padrone: The “Underground Railroad” during the Second World War
The Fruits of Their Labor

Cindy Hahamovitch

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how the ease with which the War Food Administration (WFA) commandeered the welfare apparatus set up for migrant farmworkers suggests the danger of dependence on the state. It also suggests an alternative course of action. If workers cannot depend on the state for aid and assistance, then by implication they must look to each other for strength. Yet nothing we have seen so far testifies to the power of farm labor unionism. For their efforts among farmworkers in 1913 Wheatland, California, Industrial Workers of the World organizers found themselves in prison on trumped-up murder charges. In 1934, the fledgling Agricultural and Cannery Workers' Industrial Union at Seabrook Farms had victory within its grasp one moment and found itself removed from the bargaining table the next. Farmworkers living in Farm Security Administration (FSA) migratory labor camps in 1942 used the security the camps afforded to bargain up their wages and, for their efforts, found themselves locked out of the camps and thrown into competition with workers imported from abroad.

Keywords:   War Food Administration, WFA, welfare apparatus, migrant farmworkers

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