Onion Strike (1979)

Photo of woman under arrest

Photo of woman under arrest during onion strike.

Onion Strike (1979)

Texas Farmworkers Union launched an onion pickers strike on April 4, 1979 on the farm of Charles Wetegrove, son of Edward Raymond, founder of the city of Raymondville. Protestors sought better wages, access to water and restrooms in the fields.

As with previous farmworker strikes, local law enforcement was brought in by growers as a means to deter picketers and protestors. Organizers, like Juanita Valdez, and others were arrested for trespassing.

TFWU attempted to negotiate on behalf of onion pickers, but their efforts were cut short by Othal Brand, Mayor of McAllen, who brought in his own farmworkers and bought out all the produce in the fields.

During the same period, United Farm Workers led a strike of Gulf Distributing Company's fields near Mercedes. UFW advocated for farmworker wage increases from $0.60 to $2.00 per bag of onions. Unrest among farmworkers continued to spread throughout the Valley, including "sit-down" strikes in Weslaco and Alton.

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