gers of losing one's job became more salient. From the company's point of view,
spending $1 million on the campaign was well worth it. For most women in the
plant, this job was the best job they had ever had. They could put up with team
meetings, keep their "numbers" up, and deal with the more strictly enforced
absentee policy if it meant remaining in what was basically a high-paying job in a
clean, new plant with good benefits and job security.
The defeat of the union cannot be blamed on the passivity of women workers, traditional Hispanic values, or the lack of women's commitment to their
jobs. Instead, many women (including Hispanic women) forged strategies of
resistance in attempting to fight for union representation. That an initially promising campaign turned to defeat is the result of a number of factors: the team
structure in combination with the heavy-handed legal and illegal tactics of management in the context of an economically vulnerable work force. That the union
did not succeed is a measure both of the company's power and of the importance
that women placed on retaining their jobs in an atmosphere of considerable conflict and threat.
C. Duron, "Mexican Women and Labor Conflict in Los Angeles: The ILGWU
Dressmakers' Strike of 1933", Aztlan 15, No. 1 ( 1984): 145-161; Vicki L. Ruiz, "Obreras y Madres: Labor Activism among Mexican Women and Its Impact on the
Ignacio García and
Raquel Rubio Goldsmith, eds., La Mexicana/Chicana, Renato Rosaldo Lecture Series Monograph, Vol. 1 ( Tucson: University of Arizona, 1985); Vicki L. Ruiz, "Working for Wages: Mexican Women in the Southwest, 1930-
80", Working Paper No. 19 ( Tucson: Southwest Institute for Research on Women, University of Arizona, 1986); L. Coyle,
E. Honig, "Women at Farah: An
Unfinished Story", in
Magdalena Mora and
Adelaida R. Del Castillo, eds., Mexican
Women in the United States: Struggles Past and Present, Occasional Paper No. 2 ( Los
Angeles: Chicano Studies Research Center Publications, University of California, 1980), 117-143.
P. Zavella, "The Impact of 'Sun Belt Industrialization' on Chicanas", Frontiers 8, No. 1 ( 1984): 21-28, esp. 21 and 22.
R. B. Freeman and
J. L. Medoff, What Do Unions Do? ( New York: Basic
Books, 1984), 227.
We have used a pseudonym for both the city and the plant; we have also changed
the names of individuals whom we interviewed in order to protect their privacy.
In the 1950s and 1960s the labor force participation rate of Hispanic women was
lower than that of Anglo women, but by 1970 the rate was 40 percent, only 3 percentage
points behind the Anglo rate. In 1980, 42.6 percent of married Hispanic women with
children under the age of six were employed, and 54.7 percent of those with children
between six and eighteen held jobs.
Medoff, What Do Unions Do?, 231.
The project was titled "Women's Work and Family Strategies in the Context of
'Sunbelt' Industrialization", NSF Grant No. BNS 8112726. In addition to Louise