The Success of the United Farm Workers: Lessons in Social Movements For the Contemporary Michigan Labor Force
I sought to interview people involved in different aspects of migrant labor. This ranged from the director of the summer program, to a nurse who provides care to migrant families, workers in the program who had family members who were migrant workers, and workers themselves. These interviews provided a variety of perspectives on the issue of farm labor; however the process was not without its faults. First of all, while many interviews were conducted, my research could have benefited from a broader range of subject and outlooks. The greatest disadvantage of my research design, however, can be found in the content of the questions. Upon considering how I wanted to formulate my hypothesis, it was my intention to focus on the positive effects migrant workers have on public policy and how through grassroots efforts and organizing they have in fact effected significant social change. My interview questions were therefore centered on this theme, and it was my intention to find empirical evidence to support this claim. Interestingly however, what I found was a lack of organization and motivation toward change. I found a rather stagnant situation and somewhat apathetic participants. These unexpected findings lead me to ponder different questions, and my research therefore took a different turn. I began wondering why this group of people who had given me so much testimony on how their condition was a daily struggle did not seem motivated to organize in an effort to change that situation. I began researching why social movements occur, and what the factors are in the success of these movements. The best example of a social movement in the farm labor industry is that of the United Farm Workers (UFW) and their leader, Cesar Chavez. This essay will use the case of the UFW and Cesar Chavez along with the consideration of current competing theories on social movements in order to explain the apparent lack of a social movement among Michigan migrant laborers.