We take a look back at a historic battle over workers’ rights in California. It all started in “the salad bowl of the world” – aka Salinas Valley – and the fight was over a simple tool: the short-handled hoe.
This smaller hoe looks like a standard gardening tool, but workers had to bend over pretty far to use it. Doing that kind of work for 12 hours a day caused debilitating and permanent back damage for those tasked with maintaining huge fields of vegetables.
This short hoe – or “cortito” in Spanish – became a symbol of cruelty, oppression and literally back-breaking labor. That is, until a lawyer in the early 1970s took on big ag, and the story of “el cortito” was heard before the California Supreme Court.