Safeway Answers Consumer Appeals with Arrests

Title

Safeway Answers Consumer Appeals with Arrests

Subject

Filipino American migrant agricultural laborers [lcsh]
Grape Strike, Calif., 1965-1970 [lcsh]
United Farm Workers Organizing Committee [lcna]

Description

Larry Itliong and several UFWOC leaders meet at Safeway headquarters and later are arrested at the behest of Safeway officials.

Creator

United Farm Workers Organizing Committee

Source

El Malcriado

Publisher

United Farm Workers Organizing Committee

Date

May 1-31, 1969

Text

OAKLAND, May 15--Safeway officials today ordered the arrest of six members of a negotiating team which had come to Safeway's national headquarters here to discuss the grape boycott and Safeway's million-dollar purchase of scab grapes. Those arrested included Larry Itliong, Assistant Director of the United Farm Workers organizing Committee, Felix Ytom, a grape worker from Coachella, Father William O'Donnell, and Art Carter, Russell Crowell, and Richard Groux of the Contra Costa and Alameda County Central Labor Councils. Safeway officials repeatedly refused to admit that they were involved in the grape dispute. They claimed that their customers wanted grapes and that this was why they would continue buying grapes. This argument was disproved by Mrs. Dorothy Kauffman, Bay Area housewife, who pointed out that over 140,000 consumers feel so strongly against grapes that they have signed petitions refusing to shop at Safeway until the grapes are removed.
The petitions with names and addresses of the 140,000 signers, were then presented to the Safeway management. Signatures are now in the neighborhood of 200,000 according to the UFWOC. Mrs. Kauffman asked how many customers had actually requested that grapes be sold this year. Safeway officials had no answer. Obviously, Safeway must have some other reason than
concern for the consumers if it would deliberately turn away 200,000 customers by its continued purchase of scab grapes.

Safeway officials then claimed that they were seeking a solution to the farm labor problem by supporting Federal legislation. Workers pointed out that it might take years or such legislation to pass, that farm workers have been trying for years to get legislative protection and equal rights with other workers for 30 years. And on further questioning of the Safeway officials, it was revealed that Safeway was supporting a law which would outlaw strikes and boycotts and give no guarantee that a grower would have to sign a contract with a Union that won representation election. The supermarket executives even had the gall to suggest that farm workers should be campaigning for this type of legislation rather than trying to improve their wages and working conditions and lives through the non-violent strike and boycott.

Finally, Safeway's officials terminated the meeting by saying that they were "neutral", that the misery and suffering of the farm workers were not their concern or worry, and that they would continue to purchase the $5 million or more in grapes this year, regardless of what their customers or the Union said. UFWoc spokesmen said that this was a totally unsatisfactory answer and six of the negotiators voted to stay in the Safeway office until Safeway agreed to meaningful discussions of the real issues. Safeway then ordered the arrests. Over 300 supporters of the grape strike and boycott, meeting in a small park in Oakland, marched in silent protest to Safeway’s fortress-like-headquarters after receiving word that Safeway would continue to support the grape growers. A six-hour picket line formed around the Safeway office. As police escorted Larry Itliong through the crowd o supporters, he raised his fingers in “V” for victory sign and signed with a determine smile, “We’ll be back, again and again, until they decide to listen to us. We Shall Return.”




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Date Added
November 25, 2014
Collection
UC Davis Asian American Studies files
Item Type
Publications
Citation
United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, “Safeway Answers Consumer Appeals with Arrests,” Welga Project Digital Archive and Repository, accessed January 20, 2018, http://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/items/show/11.