Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement

ISBN : 9780199757855

Marshall Ganz
368 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2010
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Why David Sometimes Wins tells the story of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers' groundbreaking victory, drawing important lessons from this dramatic tale. Since the 1900s, large-scale agricultural enterprises relied on migrant labor-a cheap, unorganized, and powerless workforce. In 1965, when some 800 Filipino grape workers began to strike under the aegis of the AFL-CIO, the UFW soon joined the action with 2,000 Mexican workers and turned the strike into a civil rights struggle. They engaged in civil disobedience, mobilized support from churches and students, boycotted growers, and transformed their struggle into La Causa, a farm workers' movement that eventually triumphed over the grape industry's Goliath. Why did they succeed? How can the powerless challenge the powerful successfully? Offering insight from a longtime movement organizer and scholar, Ganz illustrates how they had the ability and resourcefulness to devise good strategy and turn short-term advantages into long-term gains. Authoritative in scholarship and magisterial in scope, this book constitutes a seminal contribution to learning from the movement's struggles, set-backs, and successes. "-Peter Dreier, The Nation "-Howard Kimeldorf, American Journal of Sociology "-Andy Stern, President, Service Employees International Union "-Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard University "-Gerald Torres, co-author of The Miner's Canary


1. Introduction: How David Bear Goliath
2. Beginnings: Immigrants, Radicals, and the AFL (1900-1959)
3. New Opportunities, New Initiatives: AWOC, Teamsters, and the FWA (1959-1962)
4. A Storm Gathers: Two Responses (1963-1965)
5. The Great Delano Grape Strike (1965-1966)
6. Meeting the Counterattack: DiGiorgio, the Teamsters, and UFWOC (1966)
7. Launching a New Union (1966-1967)

About the author: 

Marshall Ganz joined Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in 1965, where he worked for 16 years, and has since continued work with grassroots organizations to design voter-mobilization strategies for local, state, and national electoral campaigns, most recently with Barack Obama. Ganz is currently Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

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