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Joan Suarez Collection of Farah Manufacturing Strike Materials, 1972-1990

May 9, 2022

Joan Suarez went to work for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America as an Education Director in 1962. Suarez arrived in St. Louis in 1964 where she met and married her husband, Joseph Suarez, and, in 1971 the union sent them to organize in Texas. A “wildcat walkout” at the Farah Manufacturing Company in the midst of an organizing campaign in 1972 escalated into a twenty-two month strike and boycott during which Suarez had the opportunity to put into action the community coalition building skills she had been teaching at central labor bodies in West Virginia a decade earlier. Farah workers, almost all of whom were first and second-generation Latino, succeeded in gaining union recognition and a collective bargaining contract in 1974.

In June 2021, UTSA Special Collections acquired materials from Joan Suarez including photographs, scrapbooks, print materials, and ephemera that depict labor organizing and actions in San Antonio, Texas and elsewhere.

Picketing in the hot sun, Farah workers demonstrated their commitment to their cause. Suarez collected and saved photographs in scrapbooks which trace the path of the strikes, labor meetings, and other events that brought attention to the plight of Farah workers across Texas. Individuals who crossed the picket lines were identified as “scabs.” The Farah strike was a family affair as illustrated in the photographs. Children accompanied parents to events and walked beside each other on the picket lines.

Buttons and pins in the collection encapsulate fights for change across labor organizations, community groups, and politics.

The inventory to the Joan Suarez Collection of Farah Manufacturing Site Materials can be found here:

Other related items held by UTSA Special Collections include:

Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS)/Metro Alliance and Fuerza Unida records

Other related material includes: Women at Farah: an unfinished story, and The People vs. Willie Farah, 1973 film held at Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI)

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