The Los AThe Los Angeles Times Series on the United Farm Workers: A Disservice to readers and the Farm Worker Movement
Introduction For more than 40 years, the Los Angeles Times has covered efforts by Cesar Chavez and the UFW to represent and serve farm workers fully, fairly and accurately. Over the past 12 years, the L.A. Times has published dozens upon dozens of stories, written by at least 22 different reporters, chronicling the UFW's significant efforts and successes in winning representation elections, boycotts, contracts, legislation, court rulings as well as other government actions?all in the service of representing farm workers.
Unfortunately, the paper's recent series of stories by Miriam Pawel stands in stark contrast to the Times' previous coverage.
Although her articles have a veneer of fairness and accuracy, they in fact are far from that. The picture painted is a false and inaccurate one. This White Paper seeks to refute many of the falsehoods in the Times series. We are confident that any fair-minded person who reads both the articles and this document will conclude that the Times' has done a great disservice to its readers, to the Farm Worker Movement, and to the truth... More
A main premise by Los Angeles Times reporter Miriam Pawel?that the United Farm Workers is “failing to organize California farm workers”?is directly contradicted by reporting on UFW organizing, election, strike and boycott activities and new union contracts and legislative victories from no less than 22 Los Angeles Times reporters, including Pawel herself, and two columnists between April 25, 1994 (when the current UFW organizing drive began) and Sept. 23, 2005.
Either all the stories by these Times reporters are wrong or Pawel's stories are wrong. They both can't be right. Following are citations for just 48 stores from the Times archives on relevant UFW activities covering 1994 to 2005. There are many others.
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Kicking off the UFW's current field organizing and contract negotiating campaign with a 343-mile march from Delano to Sacramento in 1994.
“Pilgrimage to Mark Strategy Shift for UFW,” by Mark Arax, Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1994.
“UFW Pledges New Activism as March Ends. Labor: Cesar Chavez's successor urges a return to grass-roots organizing during a `summer of freedom' to recoup the faltering farm union's successes,” by Mark Arax, Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1994....
I was surprised that in the recent series on the United Farm Workers (Jan. 8-11), The Times did not interview any of the many legislators with whom the UFW has worked over the years. As a result of the UFW's work and the legislative battles it has fought, California's farmworkers have won pesticide protections, farm labor contractor reforms, elimination of backbreaking hand weeding, binding mediation of labor disputes and improved healthcare....
We are grateful to the hundreds of good people who know our work and have contacted us expressing outrage at a recent series in the Los Angeles Times by reporter Miriam Pawel. Now other newspapers are reprinting this false and dishonest picture of the Farm Worker Movement.
Please help us bring balance to these unjust stories by sending a letter to the editor today! Please write down your own feelings. Sign your letter to the editor with your full name, street address and phone number and send it today to: email@example.com. We would appreciate it if you would cc us a copy of your response to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the articles have raised concerns, please contact us directly so we can answer any questions. Please email us at UFWofamer@aol.com and we will respond.
The main premise of the L.A. Times stories is that the United Farm Workers is "failing to organize California farm workers"--is directly contradicted by reporting from no less than 22 Los Angeles Times reporters and two columnists between April 25, 1994 (when the current UFW organizing drive began) and Sept. 23, 2005. That premise is also contradicted by numerous stories in other newspapers during the same period. These articles chronicle substantial UFW organizing, election, strike and boycott activities plus new union contracts and legislative victories.
Either all the stories by those Times reporters are wrong or Pawel's stories are wrong......
As organizations representing the nation's more than 40 million Latinos, we are deeply troubled by the recent Los Aitgeles Times' series on the United Fami Worlcers of America (UFW). First, the series contains a level of editorializing and opinion mongering on the conduct of UFW founder and Past President Cesar Chavez, the UFW and its current leadership, which is inconsistent with the standards of news reporting. These articles would have been appropriate for tlie editorial page or for a magazine essay, not for pieces purporting to have been objectively reported.
Second, the articles fail to present either sufficient context or a balanced perspective. There may well be room for criticism of the UFW, its founder, and its current leadership, but the author's insistence on casting every issue and nuance in the most negative possible light created more of a caricature than an accurate portrayal. We are especially concerned that young readers, or others who liave little direct knowledge of Cesar Chavez, the UFW's history, its current leaders, or the plight of famiworkers, will be left wilh very mistaken perceptions.
Members of United Farm Workers, UFW, say they are offended by a series of “inaccurate' articles published by a Los Angeles daily newspaper, and which they claim “discredits the union.”
“We feel offended… that's to say it mildly,” said UFW Press Secretary Marc Grossman sourly. “We [the union] were interviewed for the articles, but our side of the story was never told.”
The four part series report written by LA Times journalist, Miriam Pawel, and published in early January, states that the UFW has strayed from its roots as labor organizers, and that the Chavez family exploits the deceased labor leader's image for personal gain.
The Los Angeles Times is running a series of inaccurate, dishonest and untrue stories by reporter Miriam Pawel viciously attacking the Farm Worker Movement and Cesar Chavez.
We know the conditions farm workers endure on a daily basis and recognize much work remains. Despite supplying extensive, detailed information and unparalleled access over many months refuting specific inaccuracies and misleading charges, L.A. Times reporter Pawel refused to include the Farm Worker Movement's side in her stories. These initial points will be followed by a much more detailed response.....
One of the most difficult positions a newspaper can find itself in is that of defender, protector, or the lone public voice of a movement or cause embedded not only in the minds, but also the hearts of people whose collective conscience and memory have come under attack.
And so, because of who we are, we find ourselves forced to voice our disagreement with some of the perceived failures of today's UFW written about this week in this city's major metropolitan daily, the Los Angeles Times...
The Los Angeles Times is running a series of inaccurate, dishonest and untrue articles by reporter Miriam Pawel because the movement's side of the story was frozen out of her coverage despite supplying extensive, detailed information and unparalleled access over many months refuting specific inaccuracies and distortions she ended up writing. The UFW's limited resources mean the union can't be every place where there is need in California. So it focuses on the Central Valley and Central Coast, the greatest concentration of farm workers in America.
It is almost universally agreed that the Los Angeles Times recent series on the United Farmworker's Union was deeply disturbing, yet it was not surprising.
My profession occasionally contributes to these kinds of political triangulations; rather than government, industry and media attacking the problems of poverty and the historic exploitation of farmworkers, they instead go after those, who at extreme financial sacrifice, have for two generations attempted to uplift the condition of the nation's most exploited workers.
More than anything, the series was a tragicomic encirclement (akin to the media's complicit role in promoting the U.S. war against Iraq).
Interestingly, the articles noted that Cesar Chavez and the UFW remain the man and the institution most admired by the Mexican/Latino community. That caveat jumped out at the reader… It almost invited us to read into the purpose of the series: to stain his memory and to topple the UFW from that well-deserved position.
As I write this, the final installment of Miriam Pawel's inelegant LA Times series on the UFW has yet to be published. However, like many readers, I am disappointed to read what can only be described so far as a series of gross political hit pieces on the United Farm Workers (among them "Linked Charities," Miriam Pawel, January 9). These articles, packed with unfounded assertions, paint a relentlessly negative and therefore inherently unfair picture of one of the most remarkable stories of the 20th Century?the UFW. Far from being an incestuous den of iniquity, as the Times would have it, the UFW today provides one of the few bright lights for U.S. farm workers, who as a result of the global marketplace make less in real wages today than they did in 1975....
The Times appears to suggest that the California First Five Commission's partnership with La Union del Pueblo Entero is benefiting the UFW rather than migrant farmworker children. The Times did not, however, mention what has been accomplished through this partnership.
We've added more than 100 new service centers that have served more than 5,000 children and parents with critical basic services such as early literacy, parenting programs and access to heath insurance....