Abstract

This article examines the role of the Filipino-led Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers’ Union (CWFLU) as a civil rights organization from 1927 to 1937. While Filipino laborers who travelled to Alaska to work in the seasonal canned salmon industry founded the union in 1933, other Filipino cannery workers (or Alaskeros) reported the racism and discrimination they faced while on the job in newspapers and journals, calling attention to the need for a protective organization for employees. Despite the Filipinos’ ambiguous status as American nationals while under American control, Filipino workers used the CWFLU as a vehicle to fight for labor as well as basic rights and protections as American subjects and economic contributors to the United States. From Filipino students who were some of the first employees to expose the level of discrimination against Filipino and other Asian workers in the cannery industry to the later leaders of the CWFLU who fought for the basic rights of Filipinos who were the targets of racially-charged violence, the CWFLU served as an essential social and political organization for working-class Filipinos prior to World War II. I argue in this article that historians should approach the CWFLU as a Filipino civil rights organization and an important component of the West Coast civil rights movement.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 132-152
Launched on MUSE
2013-09-11
Open Access
No
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