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

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “This study centers on the historical experiences of Mexican women canning and packing workers in California during the 1930s and 1940s. It explores the connections of work, culture, and gender as well as the relationship between women’s networks and unionization.”
  • “As a historian, I have chosen oral interviews as the primary means by which to examine a cross section of Mexican women wage earners in food processing, women who ranged from single daughters to single parents.”
  • “As wage earners, were they members of a family wage economy, a consumer wage economy, or both?”
  • “More important, what type of networks developed within the plants?”
  • “Under what conditions did this collective identity, rooted in kinship and shared experience, become translated into unionization?”
  • “While important to women’s history, UCAPAWA should also be scrutinized within the context of unionization during the 1930s.”
  • “I have endeavored to write an integrated monograph documenting the history of Mexican women workers within the environs of a particular industry and a specific union using the woman- centered approach. What is woman- centered history?”
  • “The chapters that follow delineate the experiences of a generation of Mexican women cannery operatives who, from 1939 to 1950, took control of their work lives as members of the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America.”

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: “Scholarly publications on Mexican American history have usually relegated women to landscape roles”
  • Who were Dolores Huerta and Jessie Lopez de la Cruz and what is their significance to the labor movement?
  • Explain and Expand: “The typical pattern has been to deny decision- making roles to the female rank and file once the union has developed a foothold.”
  • Explain and Expand: “This failure to translate militancy into democratic locals can be found in other unions as well.”
  • Explain and Expand: “America. In particular, it asks what impact World War II had on this particular segment of industrial employees and to what extent their lives squared with the prevailing image of “Rosie the Riveter.”

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