Understanding the Watsonville Cannery Strike through Art

To understand the Watsonville cannery strike and its impact on the community one must spend some time learning the various stories of the cannery workers and the hardships they faced between in the 1980's. In order to help facilitate an understanding of the struggles of the strikers a series of events, free to the community and focused on art, are being planned for Summer 2008.

Art Exhibit

All events are being planned around an exhibition of artwork that will express the experiences felt by the strikers and their community. The struggles of one thousand Watsonville cannery strikers will be remembered and honored through this unique art and historical exhibit.

Currently contemporary pieces of art are being collected to commemorate the impact of the strikers on the Pajaro Valley community. Many local artists as well as well known political artists will participate. 

This recent body of artwork will also be joined by posters and art created during the eighties in response to the strike's events. These pieces have never before been seen together in a gallery. Please check our Exhibit page for more details.

Other Community Events

Several other community events are being planned to help the community understand the impact of the strike. A community commemoration or celebration event is being planned to honor the strikers and their influence on the Pajaro Valley. Additionally youth workshops and a film screening are also being planned.


The focus of these events are to attempt an understanding of the Watsonville cannery strike, the motives of the strikers, the impact its made on our community and to contextualize it into the history of Watsonville. There was much controversy at the time of the strike and there still is. However, there are certain things that cannot be denied. One thousand workers went on strike for eighteen months and had enough solidarity that not one crossed the picket line. Even though at the end of those eighteen months an agreement was made between two sides, neither side one. And because of the solidarity shown by the workers, a voice was created. One that can still be seen in Watsonville today, through the rows of Latino-owned businesses up and down Main Street, in the youth that march on International day of the Worker, and in the continued solidarity among community members.

Many know the stories of the cannery workers because it is their own story or because it is the story of their mother, father, aunt, uncle, sibling, neighbor, or friend. However many others do not know the stories. We welcome all to come and learn more about not only the stories of these individuals, but the story of our community, our own history.