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Chapter 2: The Cannery Culture :: Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950 by Vicki L. Ruiz

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Mexicans realize you are dependent upon them, they nearly strike for more money.”
  • “Very frequently, women, and in some instances, children carry the large boxes of fruit, weighing 40 pounds and over. . . . This is important not only because of the number of immature girls in the canneries but because of the presence of married women. Frequently these women are at work while pregnant, often working dangerously near to the day of confinement.”
  • “Each woman is apt to check up upon the earnings of her neighbor … if she is behind, she is certain that the checker has forgotten to record some of her work.”
  • “After work, my hands were red, swollen, and I was on fire! On the streetcar going home, I could hardly hold on, my hands hurt so much. The minute I got home, I soaked my hands in a pan of cold water. My father saw how I was suffering and he said, ‘Mi hija, you don’t have to go back there tomorrow.’ And I didn’t.”
  • “UCAPAWA consciously strove to recruit women for leadership positions at every level”

Thought Questions

  • Compare and Contrast: the roles work, family and social networks filled in the lives of cannery women
  • Describe the This “piece rate” pay scale and how it was used in the cannery industry
  • How did corporate concentration impact the workers in the cannery industry in California and how is Del Monte representative
  • Describe the seasonal structure of the industry and how this particularly impacted female workers
  • Compare and Contrast: The garment and textile industries on the East Coast with the food processing industry in California
  • Explain and Expand: “Often employer attitudes became translated into wage differentials”
  • Describe the impact of gender segregation in the cannery industry on female workers
  • What role did Mexican children fill in the cannery industry
  • What factors diminished cooperation and unity among cannery employees
  • Explain and Expand: “cross-cultural friendships usually ended at the cannery gates.”
  • How did child care impact female cannery workers