Labor Fightback Conference

Model Resolution in Solidarity with the Farmworkers in San Quintín (Mexico)

Approved by the Second Labor Fightback Conference at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ—May 15–17, 2015; Excerpts dealing with San Quintín struggle only.

Whereas, as many as 70,000 farmworkers (jornaleros) in the Valley of San Quintín, Baja California (Mexico) have been waging intermittent strikes and organizing road blockades and mass mobilizations since mid-March 2015 to demand an increase in their daily wage from 100 pesos to 200 pesos per day [raise from $7.50 per day to $15], an eight-hour workday, health care, overtime pay and vacation days, an end to the widespread sexual abuse, and, most important, the legal recognition of their independent union — the Alianza de Organizaciones Nacional, Estatal y Municipal por la Justicia Social del Valle de San Quintín (Alliance National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice in the Valley of San Quintín, or Alianza) — as the bargaining agent for these 70,000 workers; and

Whereas, these farmworkers (many of them indigenous workers from Oaxaca) pick strawberries, tomatoes, and other fruit primarily for export to the United States under the label of Driscoll’s, through its Mexican subsidiary, BerryMex; and

Whereas, the farmworkers are currently “covered” by “protection contracts” signed between the growers and the CTM, the CROM and the CROC—essentially government-run unions—where the contracts signed are nothing more than sweetheart deals favoring the growers; and

Whereas, articles in the mainstream media about the conditions of farmworkers in San Quintín describe rat-infested camps, some without functioning toilets, with workers routinely having their wages illegally withheld, and many facing debt after being gouged by the overpricing of necessities sold at company stores, and with pay so low that it amounts to less than one-tenth of what U.S.-based farmworkers earn”; and

Whereas, over the weekend of May 9–10, 2015, the Baja California government, instead of opening negotiations with the farmworkers, as promised, sent in police to quash the farmworkers’ protest, severely wounding 70 workers, many with rubber bullets shot at close range, leaving some of the workers in critical condition; and

Whereas, the repression against the farmworkers of San Quintín made front-page news and created a huge backlash across Mexico, forcing the government to (1) meet with representatives of the Alianza and promise to legally recognize the workers’ independent union (promising a “registro” to the Alianza) and (2) promise to implement many of the demands raised by the workers that pertain to Mexican labor law; and

Whereas, the growers are refusing to abide by the agreement between the Mexican government and the Alianza, arguing that they have more than 60 signed contracts with the CTM, the CROM, and the CROC, and that they will therefore not recognize nor open negotiations with the Alianza; and

Whereas, the leadership of the Alianza, soon after the strike began, issued a call to the U.S. labor and community movements to organize a boycott across the United States of Driscoll’s; and

Whereas, upon learning of the strike of the farmworkers in San Quintín, unionists and community activists in cities throughout California and other U.S. states launched a campaign to support the struggle of the San Quintín workers by boycotting Driscoll’s; and

Whereas, Miles Joseph Reiter is the Chairman of the Board of Driscoll’s Inc. and is also a member of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture and this board has responsibility for oversight of this industry. We question and oppose his serving on this board due to the conditions of the striking farm workers and the families in San Quintín, Baja, California.

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the [list name of union/organization here] goes on record in support of the struggle of the 70,000 farmworkers in San Quintín and urges recognition of their fighting union—the Alianza de Organizaciones Nacional, Estatal y Municipal por la Justicia Social del Valle de San Quintín (Alliance of Farm Workers of San Quintín)—as the legitimate bargaining agent for these workers; and

Be It Further Resolved, that the [list name of union/organization here] opposes the “protection contracts” signed between the growers and the company unions, and urges the Mexican government to formally give the “registro” to the Alianza, as promised, that it meet the Alianza’s demands pertaining to Mexico’s labor laws—and that the government use all its powers to compel the growers to rescind the “protection contracts” with the company unions, negotiate directly with the Alianza, and agree to increase the workers’ wages to 200 pesos a day, while resolving the other demands raised by the workers; and

Be It Further Resolved, that the [list name of union/organization here] calls upon the entire trade union movement in the United States to add Driscoll’s to their “Do Not Patronize” list and to actively promote a boycott of Driscoll’s—as well as build ties of solidarity with the San Quintín farmworkers, organizing union-to-union solidarity, visits to San Quintín, and tours to the United States of representatives of the Alianza so that these workers can tell their stories directly to U.S. workers; and

Be It Finally Resolved, that the [list name of union/organization here] will send this resolution to the Alianza, with copies to the broader labor movement, to be used as a template for further resolutions in solidarity with the farmworkers of San Quintín.