Cesar Chevez's United Farm Worker's Union (UFW) has obtained a series of White House memos indicating that the Nixon administration exerted tremendous behind-the-scenes pressure to help the Teamster's Union defeat the UFW.
The memos, reprinted by the UFW's newspaper El Malcriado, were written by former White House aide Charles Colson in 1971 and 1972. The Colson memos, according to El Malcriado, were secretly sent to the Justice Department, the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board.
In one memo, Colson is quoted as telling the three federal agencies not to involve themselves in the union fight between the Teamsters and the UFW. That 1971 memo continues: "Only if you find some way to work against the Chavez union should you take any action."
According to the UFW, the Federal government repeatedly failed to take action on complaints filed by the farm workers shortly after this memo was allegedly sent out by Colson.
In a second memo, written in early 1972, Colson talks about the possibility of violence. He again wrote the three government agencies, saying "We will be criticized if this thing gets out of hand and there is violence, but we must stick to our position. The Teamsters Union is now organizing in the area and will probably sign up most of the grape growers this coming spring, and they will need support against the UFW."
Colson, who later went to work for the Teamsters, and President Nixon himself have acknowledged close relations with the Teamsters; but these memos are the first indication that the White House may have involved itself actively in the Teamsters-UFW dispute.