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Strike Threatens Imperial Valley Lettuce Crop, 1961

February 20, 2011 |  2:45 am

  Feb. 20, 1961, Comics  

  Feb. 20, 1961, Farmworkers Protest  

Feb. 20, 1961: Chester Gould really likes the idea of vehicles driving on frozen lakes and rivers, doesn’t he?

And here’s an update on the lettuce strike in the Imperial Valley: In December 1960, the Imperial Valley Growers Assn. rejected demands by the United Packinghouse Workers of America and the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee that workers be paid $1.25 an hour [$8.87 USD 2009] instead of the current 90 cents an hours.

A strike was called for Jan. 16, 1961, that would place the Imperial Valley's lettuce crop at risk, and union representatives charged that growers were using braceros (Mexican workers who came to the U.S. for seasonal farm work) to break the strike.

At one point, businessmen, students, housewives and office workers volunteered to harvest lettuce. But by February, the farmers association had plowed under 3,000 acres of lettuce due to bad weather, low prices and labor trouble, The Times said.

In March, the two unions called off their strike and blamed Secretary of Labor Arthur J. Goldberg for delaying an order to remove the braceros from the farms until after the harvest had peaked, despite repeated demands by the Mexican government that the braceros be withdrawn to protect their safety. 

In 1963, Times reporter Ruben Salazar and an unidentified photographer toured the state to document the impending shutdown of the bracero program, which expired Dec. 31, 1964. 

  Feb. 20, 1961, Farmworkers Protest  

  Feb. 20, 1961, Farmworkers Protest  

  Jan. 10, 1961, Lettuce Workers