Three hundred supporters of the Chicano labor movement in California and Texas marched through downtown Boston early Saturday afternoon to publicize the national boycott of Farah slacks.
The diverse group of active AFL-CIO members, retired garment workers, socialists and students chanted "Viva la huelga!" and sang "Solidarity Forever" as they distributed boycott information to throngs of weekend shoppers who gathered on Tremont, Washington and Winter Sts.
After the march, the demonstrators and some curious shoppers proceeded to Boston Common where Elvira Lozana described the labor conditions which led to the 17-month strike against Farah by nearly 3000 non-union Chicana women. Lozana worked in one of Farah's four El Paso, Texas, plants for five years.
"Farah made us work like animals in a prison and thought they had done us a favor by giving us jobs," Lozana said. She said the average hourly wage was $1.70 and described Farah policies which restrict bathroom time and forbid conversation during working hours.
Lozana appealed to the local union members in the crowd: "Don't you let any of these New England manufacturers leave here so that they can come to the Southwest and expect to exploit us in runaway shops!"
A spokesman for the United Farm Workers told the crowd that his union unanimously resolved to give "unconditional support" to Farah strikers at its national convention in Philadelphia last September.
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union and the strike support committee charge that Farah's employees' wages are increased to $2.20 only after 20 years service. Most workers cannot keep up with the workpace and are unable to stay at Farah plants long enough to earn the top pay, the union says.
The strikers, 85 per cent of whom are women, claim that almost all supervisory positions are held by white males and that women automatically lose their jobs if they become pregnant.
Theodore A. Houghton, vice president of Farah for marketing, described these charges as "absolute, unadulterated lies" last July. "The racial problem is a myth here in El Paso," he said.
After Saturday's rally, most of the supporters returned to the shopping district to man picket lines at Filene's and Jordan Marsh. Although the strike committee has picketed Filene's and Milton's in Chestnut Hill and Quincy, since the summer, Saturday was the first time it has picketed Jordan Marsh.
A spot check of leading independent and chain stores in metropolitan Boston indicated Friday that anticipation of stepped-up boycott pressure has not affected larger stores. Jordan Marsh, Kennedy's Filene's and Milton's all plan business as usual this week.
However, the Harvard Cooperative Society will continue the boycott of Farah merchandise which it started in July. "We cannot just sit back and not listen to our own members who have ambitiously supported the Chicano movement, even though they are a minority," Howard W. Davis, general manager of the Coop, said this summer