Farmworkers Safeway Boycott 1973
This set shows a September 1973 United Farm Worker picket line urging a boycott of the Langley Park, MD Safeway Store which was carrying non-UFW grapes.

The United Farm Workers (UFW) union reached a three-year contract with major grape growers in 1970 after years of struggle and a nationwide grape boycott.. They also expanded into the lettuce fields and into the Florida fruit groves and vegetable fields.

However, in 1973 when the contracts expired, major grape growers signed "sweetheart" contracts with the Teamsters union, which was then outside of the AFL-CIO, to cover workers that the UFW represented.

The UFW responded with a strikes and a nationwide boycott of lettuce and grapes that were under the "sweetheart" contracts and called for a secondary boycott of those stores that carried the products that UFW labeled as "scab."

Locally, a boycott was launched against Safeway stores which carried non-UFW grapes. Many students, community groups and progressive organizations joined with UFW organizers to staff the picket lines.

In 1974, the AFL-CIO agreed to support the boycott of non-UFW grapes and lettuce if the secondary boycott against grocery stores was removed. The UFW reluctantly agreed.

In the meantime, violence plagued the fields and several UFW pickets were killed. This led to the state of California passing labor law covering agricultural workers and providing for secret ballot elections and other worker protections.

The UFW reached an agreement with the Teamsters that UFW jurisdiction would only be those employers covered under the California law, The Teamsters were to compete in California, but have jurisdiction in Arizona and Florida.

There was speculation that Teamsters President Frank Fitzsimmons targeted the UFW to get back at Kennedy family for Robert F. Kennedy's highly publicized investigation of the Teamsters in the late 1950s. Kennedy was also a high profile backer of the UFW before his death.

Safeway still operates the store in the Langley Park Shopping Center.

The first 10 images were scanned from original negatives. Non-commerical use of images in this set should be credited to Reading/Simpson unless otherwise noted. Commercial use of these items is prohibited without express permission.

The last image in the set was scanned from an 8 x 10 print. Non-commerical use of this image should be credited to G. Dunkel/Workers World. Commercial use of this item is prohibited without express permission.
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