[Chicano job prospects]

The Militant, 7 August 1970

CENTER, Colo., Aztlan—Anglos hold most of the administrative, teaching and professional positions in this town in the San Luis Valley. They own 96 percent of the businesses and hold 67 percent of the skilled jobs. For the majority of the Chicanos, who comprise 60 percent of the community, life means unskilled, seasonal work in the potato fields in winter and the lettuce fields in summer—with rotten wages and subhuman conditions.

About 83 percent of the Chicano population falls below the federal poverty guidelines of $3,200 for a family of four. Fifty-six percent earn less than $2,000 annually.

Center is the scene of a strike by Chicano workers that began June 2. The more than 100 strikers and their families are demanding a pay raise from $1.40 to $2.00 an hour and from $1.50 to $2.50 an hour for Chicano supervisors. They are also demanding the right to collective bargaining and recognition of their union, Dicho y Hecho (Said and Done), by the growers, and an end to the use of child labor. (Children as young as eight years of age are put to work in the fields at half the wage of an adult.)

The growers are not simply one more business in the area—they represent the economy of the entire area. With this, of course, comes considerable power. Judges, for instance, give prisoners over to the growers when they are needed in the fields. And growers are able to dictate who may work and when.