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May 9, 1963
The Honorable Augustus F. Hawkins
Dear Congressman Hawkins:
Since you will shortly act upon the proposal to extend Public Law 78, I would like to recall the recent words of the California Welfare Study Commission in order to give some perspective to your ultimate decision on this issue:
"California's almost 150,000 farm laborers and their families are the `one occupational group in California so deeply locked in poverty that it is set off from all others.' "
These tragic circumstances continue despite a 12-year effort to implement the law's explicit injunction against manipulating the bracero program to adversely affect the wages, working conditions and employment opportunities of domestic workers in any manner. To assure perpetuation of these artificially depressed conditions by renewal of P.L. 78 would be a profound disservice, not only to the farm workers themselves, but to your own constituents and their ideals of decency and fair play.
In seeking an end to P.L. 78, we are not in any sense urging special consideration for these workers. Quite the contrary, a legislative program designed merely to place farm workers on an equal footing with other Americans would bid fair to tie up the Congress and the several state legislatures for a full session.
Nor does our request call for expenditure of public monies. It is rather a plea for discontinuing the unprecedented role of government as agribusiness' active partner in depriving domestic farm workers of any voice in determining their conditions of employment.
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In other words, we are asking nothing more than the restoration of a free labor market condition in agriculture similar to that existing in other industries prior to enactment of the Labor-Management Relations Act. It would indeed be difficult to conceive of a more modest legislative objective and this in itself speaks volumes as to the terrible depths to which the labor-management relationship in this industry has fallen under the prejudicial influence of governmental intervention via P.L.78.
Aside from subverting our domestic economy, we most earnestly believe that this law has contributed in an unparalleled manner towards fostering a widespread cynicism concerning Congressional guarantees and the integrity of the law. We therefore urge your full support for allowing this "temporary" program to expire at the end of 1963.
Thos. L. Pitts