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[Excerpt] Two days after the November 1932 elections, newly elected California congressman Frank H. Buck provoked a massive tree pruners' strike when he announced a wage cut for pruners on his ranch from $1.40 for an eight-hour day to $1.25 for a nine-hour day. Buck, one the largest growers in the Vacaville fruit growing region, had raised wages to $1.40 during his congressional campaign, promising farmworkers even higher wages if he won the election. Running under the campaign slogan "Give Government Back to the People," Buck garnered nearly unanimous support from farmworkers in the Vacaville area. Within days of his victory, after securing the agreement of other orchardists in the area, Buck announced that the 20 percent wage cut would go into effect starting November 14.

On the day the pay cut was to go into effect, 400 Mexican, Filipino, Japanese, and white tree pruners walked off their jobs. Unlike previous agricultural strikes in the region, this was not a spontaneous walkout. Unbeknownst to Buck, the Communist-led Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union (CAW1U) had been actively organizing workers in the area for several months. By the time Buck made his announcement, more than 250 working tree pruners had joined the union, and strike plans were well developed. The tree pruners' strike was to be the first deliberately organized strike since the CAWIU had started organizing California agricultural workers three years before.


Suggested Citation

Bronfenbrenner, K. (1990). Vacaville, California, tree pruners’ strike of 1932 [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

Required Publisher Statement

© Taylor & Francis. Final version published as: Bronfenbrenner, K. (1990). Vacaville, California, tree pruners’ strike of 1932. In R. L. Filippelli (Ed.) Labor conflict in the United States: An encyclopedia (pp. 557-558). New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.