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On the picket line

March 15, 2002 | Page 11

Chicago day laborers
Boycott Taco Bell

New Era Cap

By Brian Erway

BUFFALO, N.Y.--A 150-strong crowd of strikers from the New Era Cap Co. and their supporters marched on the University of Buffalo (UB) campus March 6.

Workers from the Derby, N.Y., plant produce hats used by Major League Baseball as well as sports apparel for dozens of colleges, including UB. They've been on strike since July 16, after the 300 workers voted to join Communications Workers of America Local 14177.

"The management was heavy-handed and acted with impunity," Local Secretary Jason Kozlowski told Socialist Worker. "They didn't think we could sustain a strike against them. But now we're back in negotiations with four bargaining dates set for this month. We've put pressure on the company to seriously deal with a real unionized work force."

Although about 70 workers are crossing picket lines, most strikers remain solid--despite the fact that their unemployment benefits are running out. "Absolutely, our strike is having an impact on the company," said Kozlowski. "They'll never admit it, but they are 14 to 15 weeks behind schedule on orders."

New Era strikers have been receiving support from groups like Jobs with Justice and United Students Against Sweatshops, whose Worker Rights Consortium investigated the factory and found that the injury rate there is five times higher than the national industry average.

Now's the time for supporters to step up and give a boost to the strikers as they push for a settlement.

Donations and messages of support can be sent to CWA 14177, 7455 Erie Road, Derby, NY 14047.

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Chicago day laborers

By Héctor Reyes

CHICAGO--Day laborers and their supporters concluded a six-day hunger strike after receiving guarantees that a city ordinance protecting day laborers' rights would be voted on at the next city council meeting.

The Latino Union of Chicago organized the action with the support of the Illinois Human Rights Collaborative and the International Coalition of Mexicans Abroad. The ordinance had been submitted last June by Alderman Billy Ocasio, but the city council hasn't taken any action on it.

Among the most significant issues addressed by the ordinance are the timely payment of workers' wages, the regulation of employer responsibility for medical expenses resulting from workplace accidents, and a ban on non-payroll tax deductions that many day labor agencies use to rip off workers through fees.

Activist José Landaverde said that they were compelled to go on a hunger strike. "The ordinance was practically hidden because forces in the city council had taken an attitude which tried to keep the ordinance from being brought up for discussion," he said.

The city council next meets March 27, and the Latino Union is planning actions for the week before to keep up the pressure and create public awareness of the injustices faced by day laborers.

For more information about the struggle for day laborers' rights, contact the Illinois Human Rights Collaborative at 847-298-4843 or e-mail [email protected]

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Boycott Taco Bell

By Donald Taylor II and Jon Wexler

IN MARCH, the Taco Bell Truth Tour made several stops in its coast-to-coast caravan to rally support for the boycott organized by Florida tomato pickers.

In Chicago, 150 people marched on March 3 in the bitter cold alongside workers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the community-based organization that represents workers who pick tomatoes for Six Ls, Inc.

Six Ls is a chief tomato supplier to Taco Bell. Workers are asking for better wages, better housing and respect.

Tomato growers have paid workers the same amount--40 to 45 cents per bucket--for more than 20 years. A worker needs to pick about two tons of tomatoes to make just $50 a day.

CIW members are asking that Taco Bell pay 1 cent more per pound for its tomatoes. If growers passed the penny on to workers, it would double their wages.

Workers hope their national boycott will pressure Taco Bell into sitting down to talk. Workers also have no health insurance, sick leave, holidays, and no right to organize, and are forced to work long hours in the field with few breaks.

And the companies involved are far from broke. Taco Bell earned $5 billion in 1999, and its parent corporation Tricon, which also owns Pizza Hut and KFC, made $22 billion last year.

The Truth Tour stopped in Doraville, an Atlanta suburb, on March 1. Chanting "Yo no quiero Taco Bell," 50 CIW members and supporters marched from United Auto Workers Local 10 union hall to Taco Bell.

Demand an end to Taco Bell and Six Ls corporate greed and racism. Demand they pay a penny more for justice. Boycott the Bell!

Visit to see if the Taco Bell Truth Tour is coming to your city.

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