Cesar Chavez

Tell us what you did
to help Cesar's cause

"Apopka Sisters ORganize with UFW for teh HP Hood COntract"

Apopka Sisters ORganize with UFW for teh HP Hood COntract

IN the early 70’s 4 Sisters of Notre Dame( Ann Kendrick, Cathy Gorman, Anne Parry and Mary Anne Gillespie) were on their way to start a Farmworker Ministry in Central Florida at the request of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. We had been supporters of the Grape Boycott for years. We were green and inexperienced but we did know a few things. We studied Paolo Freire and Saul Alinsky and we knew we needed to meet Cesar Chavez and learn first hand about the union before we went to Florida. So we went to California and volunteered for at least a month in the various UFW offices to learn the ropes. We also stayed the the Tehachapee mountains at La Paz Keene CA in the old TB hospital.Once back in FL the Campaign to organize Coca Cola Minute Maid began full bore and we helped meeting workers and finding out what the gossip and pressure points were to keep workers from voting in favor of the union. We worked with Manuel Chavez, Dianna and Mack Lyons, Kenny Snodgrass, Marshall Barry, Valentin Barajas, John Bradshaw, Orin Baird, Robbie Jaffee and a huge cast of characters. It was wild. During the HP Hood campaign Sister Cathy Gorman and I dressed up as the old sister uniform to gain access to the labor camps where the UFW organizers were not allowed to go. We showed movies on the walls of the camp housing and played games with the kids to get to know everyone and how they were being intimidated to vote against the UFW. They were told that the Migra would be called if they voted yes They were told that the ballots were not really secret and that the bosses would find out if they voted yes and fire them.Thryy were also told that any money they owed the contratista would be called due if the UFW won the election. We gathered all the information each evening and then passed it on to the UFW organizer in a secret meeting place. HIgh intrigue. The election was won but shortly afterward the company went to the total independent contractor system and effectively broke the union contract. We have lots more tales but I just saw this invite to contribute and don’t have any more time right now. I just wanted to get this into the story book on Cesar’s birthday. Tirso Moreno and I attended Cesar’s funeral representing the people and organizations of Central Florida. We also participated the the Florida Christian Migrant Ministry and the National Farmworker Ministry during those years.