In Dubious Battle deals with a fruit-workers' strike in a California valley and the attempts of labor unions to organize, lead, and provide for the striking pickers.
Jim Nolan meets Harry Nilson who initiates Jim's application process to become the newest member of the Party. Mac "Doc" McLeod, the Party organizer, tells Jim they will go to the Torgas Valley (a composite location) in an attempt to rouse the two thousand fruit pickers against the Growers' Association, and to encourage the strike to spillover into the cotton fields in Tandale.
Momentum for strike action builds after old Dan breaks two rungs out of a ladder and falls. London becomes chairman of a committee of seven men, while Mac convinces Alfred Anderson's father, Al, to loan five acres as a base for the fruit pickers in exchange for them picking his crop for free. Doc Burton is hired by Mac to maintain the sanitation of the strikers' camp, so as to prevent it from being disbanded by the Red Cross.