Getting Organized

For Homestead's working poor, the thought of joining a union can be frightening. So how do you fight the fear?

"That's against the law, to threaten you for asking for a raise," Crissien answers the nursery worker. "It may be their policy to not give raises, but they can't fire you if you ask." She points to the phone number of the union office in Hialeah printed at the bottom of the leaflet. "But there are people who know much more about these things. You should call this number and ask them."

At eleven o'clock Crissien joins Arreaga, Hernandez, and Martinez in the hallway of the record store. This week the fare is the same as always, though the union phone number is repeated with more urgency and there are frequent invitations to an upcoming community meeting at which workers and organizers will meet to discuss problems and strategies.

"This is for those who want to move forward, as I do," Arreaga tells the listeners at the conclusion of the fifteen-minute program. "Sure, I felt completely alone when I was mistreated at work. But that's the purpose of the union: not to let us feel alone. Now we know they can't mistreat us physically or verbally. They have to respect us and our rights. We can have more for ourselves and our families."

Angel Dominguez, who began organizing farm workers 30 years ago, considers Homestead his biggest challenge
Angel Dominguez, who began organizing farm workers 30 years ago, considers Homestead his biggest challenge

As Arreaga slips out of the tiny control room, Angel Dominguez walks in. He quickly shakes Arreaga's hand, then raises his eyebrows approvingly and whispers, "That's good."

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