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Why David Sometimes WinsLeadership, Strategy and the Organization in the California Farm Worker Movement$
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Marshall Ganz

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195162011

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195162011.001.0001

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How David Beat Goliath

(p.3) One Introduction
Why David Sometimes Wins

Marshall Ganz

Oxford University Press

By 1977 the United Farm Workers (UFW) had successfully negotiated more than 100 union contracts, recruited a dues-paying membership of more than 50,000, and secured enactment of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, the only legislative guarantee of farm workers' collective bargaining rights in the continental United States. Why did the UFW succeed at such a daunting task—a task at which other far more powerful organizations had repeatedly failed? This book argues that the UFW succeeded, while the rival AFL-CIO and Teamsters failed, because the UFW's leadership devised a more effective strategy, in fact a stream of effective strategies. The UFW was able to do this because the motivation of its leaders was greater than that of their rivals; they had better access to salient knowledge; and their deliberations became venues for learning. The three elements of strategic capacity—the ability to devise good strategy—are discussed.

Keywords:   United Farm Workers, labor unions, California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, farm workers, strategic capacity

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