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Jewell's Broken Promise
Chicago, Il., March 24th, 2003 — It could (and will) happen just about anywhere Azteca tortillas are sold: activists across the country will be urging consumers to support the Azteca Foods boycott at retail outlets nationwide during "April Days of Action," a month-long campaign to build consumer awareness of the ongoing struggle for justice by Azteca workers.
In Chicago, the striking tortilla makers and community supporters will be focusing on Jewel Stores, the area’s largest grocery store chain. In other areas of the country, activists will be targeting both large and small retail stores where Azteca products are sold.
Azteca continues to refuse to budge from its demands for a concessionary first contract. Azteca Foods representatives were still insisting on takeaways and concessions during a second federally mediated bargaining session with UE Local 1159 on Wednesday, March 19th. A similar outcome was reported following the first mediated session on March 5th. Azteca had announced it would accept federal mediation on February 17th in exchange for the union’s agreement to cancel a rally at LaSalle Bank (see ...). Despite financial losses and cuts in production, Azteca is still clinging to its strategy of refusing to bargain in good faith.
WORKERS REMAIN UNITED
Azteca workers remain united and determined to move the company to negotiate a fair first contract. Not one of the strikers, despite economic hardship caused by the company, has crossed the picket line since the strike began on September 30, 2002. They continue to carry their message to the community as they prepare to focus on building widespread support for the Azteca Boycott in April.
Members of the National Lawyers Guild at DePaul College promised to help build the Azteca Boycott at Jewel Stores in the Chicago area in April during a March 12th event that was sponsored by the Guild’s DePaul Chapter on behalf of Azteca workers. If you or your organization can help — either in Chicago or elsewhere — please contact UE Local 1159 at 312-829-8300.
'Next Week' Long Gone —
Azteca workers are still waiting to hear from Jewel-Osco's Director of Public Affairs Lauri M. Sanders who promised to respond to the strikers ‘next week’ ... more than a month ago. Sanders made the promise after meeting with a delegation of Azteca workers and representatives from seven community organizations on February 13th at the company’s Melrose Park headquarters.
The delegation had asked that the chain pull all Azteca Foods products from its shelves in support of the National Boycott during its unannounced visit (see: Community Leaders Visit Jewel Stores Headquarters; Demand Boycott Support).
At the time, Josefina Bonilla, representing the 63 strikers, commented that it was great to meet with Sanders along with the entire community delegation. "Ms. Sanders promised to get back in touch with us next week. We have been waiting to hear from the President of the Midwest Region of Jewel Stores, Peter Van Helden but he has failed to return our phone calls or respond to our letters asking for a meeting to discuss the strike."
So far, there’s been no word from Jewel, despite its promise.
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