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Friday, August 12, 2005

Resistance Is Fertile

We at Bacon Press loves us some good boycott!

In fact, we came protesting straight from the womb, screaming "Hell No, We Won't Go!" In our youth, boycotts have included everything from not brushing our teeth, not eating our mac and cheese, and not lissnin' to mama.

So, in keeping with the fighting spirit of resistance to the Man (or the Mom), we thought we would highlight some recent boycotts for you to get uppity, defiant, and rail, rant, and rave over like a true San Franciscan.

The "Chinatown Restaurant" Boycott

Good sign number 1: Walking over to Hong Kong Clay Pot City in Chinatown today, I noticed a group of people standing with signs in front of the Chinatown Restaurant. Usually when I see a bunch of Chinese people with what look to be protest signs, it's usually a Falun Gong demonstration. However…

Good sign number 2: These folks were the Chinese waiters and workers of the Chinatown Restaurant who were passing out flyers in (passable) English and holding signs urging passersby to boycott the restaurant.


Here's why: It seems the new owners, Anna Wong and Jimmy Quan, have a taste for running sweatshops. Before buying the venerable building that has housed Chinese restaurants for over 86 years, they were in the garment business. When that went bankrupt, they stiffed over 240 workers out of 1.2 million dollars in back pay. When the toothless Department of Labor finally ordered them to pay, the DOL only required Wong and Quan to pay back $213,000...over a period of two years!

After failing (or did they?) in the garment industry, they decided to stick their sweatshop claws into the restaurant business and are the current owners of the tourist-heavy Chinatown Restaurant. The workers at the restaurant say they are already working 10 hours a day with very low pay. To make matters worse, Quan and Wong have been withholding wages for over a month.

What? You say? Chinatown restaurant owners are, once again, stiffing hard-working Chinese immigrants??

Well, no shit Sherlock!

Why? Because folks like Wong and Quan have learned the greatest lesson of all, and from none other than that fine American Sinstitution, the Department of Labor:

Crime pays because they don't have to.

The Badlands Bar Boycott

If you ever find yourself in the Castro with the urge to wrap your lips around a long one, just make sure it isn't in the Badlands Bar.

For the last year or so, Badlands has been at the center of a shitstorm regarding institutionalized racism in the Castro. Yes boys and girls, every minority community has it's share of bad apples. In this case, we're talking about a big rotten one named Les Natali who has systematically excluded black gay men and women from his bar for the past several years (or more?).

The campaign to expose Badland's policies began with a multi-racial group of friends sitting around and sharing some of their past experiences with the bar. When they pieced each story together and saw a pattern, they became infuriated. Pretty soon, true to SF-style, a campaign was launched, flyers were laid out and printed, and those listservs and phone trees were activated. The group launched a website detailing some of the discrimination faced by women and people of color including:

* requiring black clientele to show 2 forms of ID to enter
* applying dress codes and a "no bag/backpack policy" solely to black clientele
* discrimination in hiring
* and many, many more

Though initially no boycott was called, the group (now called And Castro For All) has launched a boycott that has been supported by and brought out City supervisors, political big wigs, and too many do-gooders to even begin mentioning to force Natali to institute a non-discrimination policy in the 3 bars he owns (including the Detour and the Patio Café).

Photos above courtesy of And Castro For All.org

Natali, for the most part, has only continued to dig himself deeper into the Roy Cohn Hall of Shame by refusing to negotiate with the community group and, on a level only attainable by Satan, by buying the Castro's sole gay bar frequented predominantly by black men (the Pendulum) and shutting it's doors.

In April of 2005, Natali was found guilty by the city's Human Rights Commission of discrimination, but in a turnaround, was found to be within the law by the State ABC board. Currently, penalties imposed by the city's Entertainment Commission are on hold provided that Natali participates in a community mediation forum.

I'm not holding my bladder.

The New Gallo Boycott

The next time you roll on down to Safeway at 3 in the morning for that jug of Carlo Rossi or Boones Farm, keep on truckin down the cheap wine shelf for a non-Gallo brand (and that goes also for their top shelf stuff).

From the very beginning, the Modesto-based Gallo wine family has opposed the unionization of their workers by the Cesar Chavez-founded United Farm Workers. In the early 70's, the UFW launched a boycott of Gallo that brought together millions of supporters who vowed to switch from Ripple to Annie Greensprings. On the other side of the labor equation, the politically right-wing (and in California at that time, racist) Teamsters union was favored by Gallo to represent farmworkers. A bitter struggled ensued, but despite the harrasment and violence against the UFW by the Teamsters, the local police, and organized goon squads, the UFW won the battle to represent Gallo farmworkers.

Photos below detail the violence (threatened and real) against farmworkers and their supporters during the early to mid-1970s.

Left to right: Deputies wrestled striking farmworkers to the ground; the mayor of Hollister is beaten and sprayed with Mace by police after attempting to come to the aid of a striker; a seventeen year old striker is handcuffed and detained by Kern County sheriff's deputies; Teamsters stomp on an effigy of Cesar Chavez in the Coachella Valley, 1973.

Photos from the book, "The Fight in The Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement", by S. Ferriss and R. Sandoval, published by Harcourt Brace, 1997

Today, Matt and Gena Gallo lay awake at night plotting and planning on how to crush the union and drive wages down so their personal fortunes will rise. One of their strategies has been to hire contract labor employees who have better benefits and favor over the union employees. Once the contract employees became the majority, the Gallos and their underlings attempted use them to decertify the union.

I say attempt, because in December of 2003, California state Administrative Law Judge Nancy C. Smith ruled that Gallo "violated California law when two of its supervisors unlawfully facilitated and encouraged the circulation and signature gathering of a decertification petition to rid the UFW as bargaining agent for all Gallo field workers in Sonoma. "

"Under California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act, only workers can initiate such a representational election and management cannot in any way involve itself in the employee selection (or de-selection) of its representatives. Following California law, the judge ruled that this illegal conduct by Gallo and its supervisors tainted the entire election process and tainted any possibility of knowing whether the resulting votes were the free and un-coerced choice of workers, as opposed to the result of illegal company conduct. The judge further found that because of the importance of the election to workers, knowledge of Gallo’s illegal conduct would have spread to the entire workforce. Based on Gallo’s illegal actions, the judge ordered the dismissal of the petition."

Gallo appealed the decision to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, and in November of 2004 had their appeal soundly rejected.

For the Gallos of Sonoma ("well, we're movin' on up!"), the UFW continues to be a constant headache, but seeing as we've spent many a morning puking our guts out at the bottom of Strawberry Hill, I'd say they have it coming.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys have a wonderful blog. Please don't got too geezed up about all the injustice you see around you. You will go crazy. It is much too bad.

"The losers now will be later to win, for the times are a changin' "

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, My Bad:
Quote missed the they

"The losers now will be later to win, for the times they are a changin' "

3:01 PM  
Blogger Bacon Press said...


Way too late, mister/missus.

Of course I'm geezed up, but it's nothing a big plate of "ma pa dou fu" won't cure.

Here's hoping that a hard reign is gonna fall.


6:40 PM  

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