On March 17, thousands of farm workers in Baja California, Mexico started a strike and blocked highways, clashed with cops, and created severe disruptions in the flow of agricultural commodities in the region. Vice News just made a nice twenty-minute mini-documentary on the strike and local farm workers.
Advance the Struggle, a communist group in the Bay Area, just hosted a forum/report-back on the strike with one of the leaders of the struggle, who presented her perspective on the strike, and how folks in the Bay Area can be in solidarity with the struggle. A few interesting things she said that stuck out to me:
- A coordinating group called The Alliance had been organizing among local workers for well over a year before the strike began
- The main focus of the grievances seem to be against Driscoll and its Mexican subsidiaries
- Many of the workers are from the poorer, southern regions of Mexico, are of indigenous background, and do not speak Spanish (which functions to make organizing and collective action difficult)
- Many workers are recruited by contracting corporations based on false promises and lies about wages and working conditions, and by the time they make the long trek north they have no choice but to work
- Some 3,000 farm workers (mostly active organizers and agitators) have been laid off since the end of the strike and are now black-listed from working on other farms
- After an initial peaceful blockade of the highway, police and military units cracked down hard, detained strike leaders, and raided homes at night
- Women took the lead on going door-to-door and getting people back out on the streets after the initial crackdown by the state to escalate the strike
- The concessions that the corporations gave to the workers are unsatisfactory to many, and there is efforts underway to 1) create an independent union organization, and 2) push a transnational boycott of Driscoll products, in the spirit of the Grape Strike 1965-1970 lead by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers; hence, why the tour of strike organizers through California
Advance the Struggle made comments specifically arguing for the need and potential to extend past the frameworks of “ethical consumerism” and “vote with your dollars” toward investigating and acting on ways to 1) blockade the flow of commodities, specifically agricultural commodities linked with Baja California, in order to hit the bosses’ profits harder, and 2) use this as an opportunity to link up and network with workers in various logistical sectors, whether that is truckers transporting fruit, warehouse workers at distribution/processing centers, farm workers around the Bay Area, service workers in grocery stores, and so on.
This is exciting to me, since all this signifies another step the radical left is taking toward uniting theory and practice around the logistics of capitalism. To quote from a previous post on ocean logistics:
…Endnotes published this piece titled “Logistics, Counterlogistics, and the Communist Prospect” in 2013; and Viewpoint Magazine published three pieces on the relationship between the State and logistics infrastructure in Issue 4, released in late 2014…[and] I wrote a piecein late 2014 thinking specifically about the potential for coordinated blockades against oil infrastructure along the West Coast of North America.
Now of course, I’m still waiting to see discourse on the potential for not just blockading the flow of commodities, but seizing control of the process and expropriating/collectivizing/ communizing/whatever-izing it. Still, the potential for solidarity boycotts and strikes and blockades around the Bay Area has me quite excited.