LABOR: A Long Dry Season


Philip Martin, professor of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Davis, on the mixed history of efforts to unionize California's farmworkers.

California enacted the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) in 1975 to “ensure peace in the agricultural fields by guaranteeing justice for all agricultural workers and stability in labor relations.” At the time, the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the Teamsters were competing to represent farmworkers; together, they claimed over 50,000 members. Almost four decades later, fewer than 10,000 farmworkers are represented by unions, including about a third represented by the UFW. There are several explanations for why there are fewer union-represented farmworkers today than in the past, including flawed union leaders, politics, the changing structure of agriculture, and unauthorized migration.

Philip Martin
Publication date: 
August 16, 2012
Publication type: 
Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies Article