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Policies, Economic Forces, Class Relations, and Unions in Spain’s Strawberry Fields Alicia Reigada DOI: 10.5876/9781607326311.c009 Introduction In her analysis of the political construction of the labor market in the Cali­ fornia strawberry-growing industry, Wells (1996) offered a perspective that helps model the relationship between political pressures, economic organization , and class relations. Wells’s view of the workplace calls for a reconnection between economic and political forces, actor-oriented models and Marxist structural models, and farmers’ and workers’ experiences. As such, she understands that social classes are formed through struggle. From a similar viewpoint, Pedreño, Gadea, and de Castro (2014) have analyzed the relationship between the political construction of the social regulation of work in the intensive agriculture of Murcia (south of Spain) and the forms of worker resistance and conflict. This chapter focuses on trade unions and collective action in the globalized agriculture of Andalusia (southern Spain).1 To understand the structures , goals, and roles of this form of collective action, this chapter explores 234 Alicia Reigada the relationship between political pressures, national and European policies and laws, economic organization, and class relations. This chapter focuses on the strawberry-producing sector of the province of Huelva, the number one exporter of strawberries in Europe and second only to California in the world. My analysis is framed within the context of the Políticas de Contratación en Origen (referred to hereafter as the Temporary Guest Farmworkers Program), which hires workers in their countries of origin for temporary periods of work. First, I will detail some of the key factors in the historical development of the strawberry sector in southern Spain to build the foundation for an understanding of trade unionism and collective action there. I will examine the social system of strawberry growers and workers in Huelva, where labor needs were originally fulfilled by Andalusian farming families and casual laborers, who were then substituted both ethnically and by gender through successive waves of immigration (starting with men from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, and most recently women from Eastern Europe and Morocco). Then I will focus on the characteristics and functions of the growers’ associations, which represent the interests and rights of the producers. After that I will analyze both class trade unionism and forms of self-organization employed by immigrant workers in the strawberry fields. In both cases, I will situate the different types of organization, their perspectives, actions, and roles, as well as the evident tensions in the context of history. From there, I will discuss the paradoxes, contradictions, and conflicts derived from the integration of the family farm model into the global agrifood supply chains by examining the experiences of both smallholding farmers and jornaleros (farmworkers/day laborers). I will conclude by contemplating the aspects that are particularly significant to any analysis, which aims to capture the complexity of factors, positions, and interests that come into play in this field of social action. To this end, the final section examines the impact of global processes on the local system, the particular history of the growth of the strawberry cultivation industry, the interactions between actors’ responses and structural dynamics, and the relationship between political and economic forces. This perspective contributes to the consideration of the framework in which the development of labor processes, class formation, and interethnic and gender conflicts make sense, and, therefore, to the context in which trade unions and collective action take place. As such, labor regulation systems and collective action constitute 235 Policies, Economic Forces, Class Relations, and Unions in Spain’s Strawberry Fields some of the social and cultural transformations arising in the current phase of capitalism that can be illuminated through an analysis of the history of food production (Roseberry 1996). The Historical Formation of Intensive Agriculture The history of agricultural capitalism reveals how Andalusia’s subordinate position within the territorial division of work has been taking shape since the nineteenth century. There are a number of factors that explain this peripheral position, including the fact that the region specializes in activities closely related to the exploitation of its natural resources, as well as sustaining an abundant and cheap labor force. In addition, the region has adopted a role as a supplier of raw materials and agrifood goods, while at the same time adapting to the inward flow of capital goods and inputs required by the industrialized agriculture (Delgado 2002). The transition to the third phase of the world food system (Friedmann and McMichael 1989...


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