Epifanio Camacho: a Militant Farmworker Brushed Out of History

Golash-Boza,Tanya; Golash, Michael

Publisher:  CounterPunch
Date Written:  25/03/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23578

Biographical info on Epifanio Camacho, a labor activist who fought alongside the less militant Cesar Chavez. He has been largely forgotten by history.




Camacho began to see that he was not going to win the battle against bosses alone. One of his co-workers, Manuel Rivera, told him about Cesar Chavez, who was organizing farm workers in Delano, just five miles north of McFarland. Camacho went to Delano and joined Chavez’s organization, the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA).

Cesar Chavez told Camacho that his strategy was to get as many members as possible to create a strong political force to get the laws changed. Camacho suggested that they organize a strike. Chavez was unwilling to do so as he did not think they were strong enough yet. Camacho insisted on a strike and Chavez told him to invite workers to a meeting where they could discuss it more. After a series of meetings, the rose grafters eventually agreed to strike in April 1965.

The principal demands of the strikers were recognition of the NFWA as the representative of the farm workers and an increase to $2.50 for every 1000 rose plants processed for grafters and binders. At first, the strike was effective, as it was difficult for the bosses to replace the skilled workers. The company responded by offering the workers a pay raise on condition that they returned to work on a specified day. Everyone showed up to work after four days, and the bosses kept their promise of higher wages. The other four rose companies raised their wages to stay competitive.

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