In 1897, Henry
, James and Robert Oxnard formed the American Beet Sugar Company
. The major labor force to the company, the Western Agricultural Contracting Company
(WACC), was headed by Inose Inosuke. Comprising more than 75 percent of the work force, the WACC had a near monopoly
of the workers.
On February 11, 1903, 500 Japanese and 200 Mexican laborers, who constituted the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association (JMLA), opposed the WACC on three conditions:
- they accused the WACC of artificially suppressing wages;
- they opposed the subcontracting system arguing that it forced workers to pay double commissions; and
- they called for the freedom to buy goods rather than be subjected to the inflated prices of the company store.
After the press reaction to a shooting incident on March 23, in which a Mexican worker was killed, the WACC conceded to most of the laborers demands.
Japanese and Mexican laborers, formerly pitted against each other, had unified to achieve their labor goals. The success JMLA achieved showed the effectiveness of a multi-racial labor front and showed that class, and not race, could be the unifier in labor organizing.