Grape Strike, Calif., 1965-1970 [lcsh]
United Farm Workers Organizing Committee [lcna]


El Marciado, the Voice of the Farmworker


United Farm Workers Organizing Committee




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Over 25,000 consumers demonstrated against Safeway Stores and other large buyers of scab grapes on May 10, 1969, in the most widespread and coordinated boycott action ever to take place in North America. Safeway Stores, the main target of the boycott in the Western states, felt the wrath of consumer pressure in more than a dozen states and at some 400 of their 2200 stores.

The United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO, had called on everyone who supports justice for farm workers to refrain from shopping at Safeway or any other store which continues to purchase scab grapes, until grape growers agree to negotiate a contract with their workers.

Safeway Stores, which buys over $5,000,000 worth of grapes per year, continues to claim that they are “impartial” in the dispute, that their customers want grapes, and that they will keep on buying them regardless of the moral or economic reasons for discontinuing the purchases.

Several major growers sit on the Safeway Stores Board of Directors. J.G. Boswell and Robert Magowan, Safeway Directors, are also members of the Board of Directors of Boswell Ranch, one of the largest grape growers in Arizona. Ernest Arbuckle, another Director of Safeway, is also Director of Kern County Land Company, a billion-dollar agribusiness corporation with extensive vineyards. It seems obvious that these and other powerful agribusiness interests which control Safeway are encouraging Safeway to enter into full scale war with the farm workers and through huge purchases of the 1969 grape crop, to break the grape boycott and Union.

Unable to convince Safeway’s Directors to act out of moral concern for the plight of the farm workers, UFWOC has pledged to exert all possible non-violent economic pressure on Safeway in order to force them to do what they should have done voluntarily—stop buying grapes.

In California on May 10, Safeway stores were picketed in the following cities: Arvin, Bakersfield, Antioch, Pittsburg, Martinez, Moraga, Concord, Walnut Creek, Hayward, Fremont, Santa Rosa, Napa, Vallejo, Davis, Delano, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Atascadero, Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, Lampoc, Fresno, Livermore, Lodi, Sacramento, Palo Alto, Merced, Modesto, Oakland, Santa Barbara, Visalia, Stockton, Selma, and Tracy.

Support for the boycott in the rural towns was terrific. This was the first time that farm workers have been out in mass to picket Safeway, and the support is growing steadily.

In the Los Angeles area, 70 stores were picketed. Consumers and farm workers were aided by a committee of movie stars who had a traveling picket line from store to store.

Safeway stores were also picketed in Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Tuscon, Arizona; Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver, Colorado. (three Colorado State Senators attended the picketing.) Twelve stores were picketed in the Washington, D.C. area. In Iowa, Safeways were picketed in Ames, Council Bluff and Omaha. In Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri, Safeway stores were picketed all day. Safeway stores were picketed in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The boycott was endorsed by the Tulsa Council of Churches. Oregon boycotters and supporters picketted Safeways in Corvallis, Eugene, Klamath Falls, and Portland. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, 17 carloads of consumers visited all Safeway stores with a roving picket caravan. In El Paso, Texas, 4 stores were picketed. In Washington, Safeways were picketed in Fort Thomsend, Olympia, Seattle (over 100 people involved in demonstrating) and Toppenish (several stores in the Yakima Valley.)

UFWOC Director Cesar Chavez expressed his appreciation to all those who helped in the demonstrations of support on May 10. With the grape harvest due to begin this week, the boycott will now be escalated whenever and wherever scab grapes appear.

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Date Added
May 19, 2015
Linda Mabalot collection
Item Type
“Safeway on the Spot--PICKETS NUDGE, BUT SAFEWAY STILL WON’T BUDGE,” Welga Project Digital Archive and Repository, accessed March 24, 2018,