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The 11-week lettuce workers' strike in California against Sun Harvest Company threatens the existence of the United Farm Workers union (UFW), Cesar Chavez, president and founder of UFW, told a crowd of more than 500 people last night at the ARCO Forum of the Kennedy School of Government.
"We asked for a little more money and the employers responded with bullets," Chavez said after discussing the killing of a striking worker February 10. "The hunting season is on every time we hit the picket line," he added.
Chavez said the union has asked for a 32 per cent wage increase because the real wages of the workers have increased only 13 cents per hour since 1970. The employers rejected this proposal, and on January 19, the workers went on strike.
"It is unfortunate that the men, women, and children who plant and harvest the greatest quantity of food ever in this country don't have enough for themselves," Chavez said.
The UFW is sponsoring a boycott of all products sold by United Brands, Inc, and its subsidiaries, including Chiquita Banana and Sun Harvest Co.
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