OLD Media Moves

LA Times series on labor causing a lot of talk

January 10, 2006

The Los Angeles Times this week has been running a series called “UFW: A Broken Promise” on the migrant farm worker population that is so important to California agriculture and the state’s economy. You can read the series here.

The day one story has this as its multi-paragraphed nut: “Today, a Times investigation has found, Chavez’s heirs run a web of tax-exempt organizations that exploit his legacy and invoke the harsh lives of farmworkers to raise millions of dollars in public and private money.

“The money does little to improve the lives of California farmworkers, who still struggle with the most basic health and housing needs and try to get by on seasonal, minimum-wage jobs.

“Most of the funds go to burnish the Chavez image and expand the family business, a multimillion-dollar enterprise with an annual payroll of $12 million that includes a dozen Chavez relatives.”

The anti-labor stance that has been running prevalent through the series is causing some backlash from the United Farm Workers and from others.

The media blog L.A. Observed notes that the union has issued a statement, which can be found here. It reads in part:

“The Los Angeles Times is running a series of inaccurate, dishonest and untrue stories by reporter Miriam Pawel viciously attacking the Farm Worker Movement and Cesar Chavez.

“We know the conditions farm workers endure on a daily basis and recognize much work remains. Despite supplying extensive, detailed information and unparalleled access over many months refuting specific inaccuracies and misleading charges, L.A. Times reporter Pawel refused to include the Farm Worker Movement’s side in her stories. ” The bolding is the union’s.

In addition, some California-based political science professors are criticizing the series as well, notes L.A. Observed. The most angry is Berkeley professor Michael O’Hare, who writes on his blog that “Remember the last scene of Animal Farm? This story about the Farm Workers’ union, a ‘print it once and print it all” piece in the best tradition of the LA Times, will break your heart.”

To read all of the criticism, go here.

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