FARMWORKER ORGANIZING IN U.S. AGRIBUSINESS: SYMBOLIC POWER PAVES THE PATH TO DIGNITY
Farmworkers have struggled for the recognition and respect of their labor rights throughout U.S. history. Under the doctrine of agriculture exceptionalism, labor and immigration policies have disenfranchised agricultural workers, exposing them to violence. Agribusiness restructuring and financialization have strengthened these barriers. Through interviews and secondary research, this paper analyzes the United Farm Workers, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and Familias Unidas por la Justicia. These three farmworker organizations stand out for achieving substantial and enduring improvements in employment terms and conditions. I argue that symbolic power underpins their success. By countering normalized violations of fundamental human and labor rights with internal and public assertions of farmworkers’ humanity, they sharpened tactics of strikes, boycotts and political advocacy sufficiently to contend with agribusiness’s extraordinary political power. The process by which farmworkers organizations have established enforceable labor standards may provide lessons for workers in other sectors characterized by insecure and unstable employment.
Farmworkers; Labor; Precarious employment; Symbolic power; Sociology; Labor relations
Katz, Harry Charles
Kuruvilla, Sarosh C.
Industrial and Labor Relations
M.S., Industrial and Labor Relations
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis