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6 Jul 2023

Steven Greenhouse, The Guardian (UK)

USA: 500 farmworkers at five farms unionised across NY State in big win for United Farm Workers

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"Union wins at New York farms raise hopes for once-powerful UFW,"

For decades, the United Farm Workers – a powerhouse under American labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez in the 1970s – has declined in size and prominence, its membership falling from 60,000 to around 6,000. Now, after years of scant success in organizing, the UFW has something big to boast about: it has unionized 500 workers at five farms in New York state.

It’s the union’s biggest organizing success in years, and the first time the California-based union has organized in the north-east. The New York victories will increase the union’s membership by 8%, with some labor experts saying these successes show new promise and energy in the long-languishing UFW...

“It’s extraordinary,” said William B Gould IV, a labor law professor at Stanford and former chairman of the California Agricultural Relations Board. “It’s a sharp contrast with everything we’ve seen. There was considerable lethargy with the UFW. This is a significant departure. It’s very surprising and welcome.”

In New York state, the UFW has won union drives at four orchards and one vegetable farm. The vast majority of those unionized are workers from Jamaica or Mexico with H-2A visas to do seasonal work...

The UFW says it has unionized four apple farms – Wafler Farms, Cahoon Farms, Porpiglia and A&J Kirby – and a vegetable grower, Lynn-Ette. The three biggest unionized farms, Wafler, Cahoon and Lynn-Ette, did not respond to questions from the Guardian...