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Costco Warehouse Target of Pre-Thanksgiving Protest
Source Al Rojas
Date 15/11/21/13:45

Costco Warehouse in Sacramento Target of Pre-Thanksgiving Protest
Saturday for Selling Products of Grower Charged with 'Widespread'
Worker Abuse,' Including 'Forced Slavery' and 'Sexual Abuse'

SACRAMENTO – A Costco Warehouse here is targeted for a major protest Saturday (Nov. 21) because it is selling berries from Driscoll's – a grower linked to worker abuse, environmental crimes and subject of an international boycott, according to Al Rojas, a founding member of United Farm Workers and president of Labor Council for Latin American Advancement- Sacramento chapter.

A press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. Saturday/Nov. 21 at the entrance to Costco
(7981 East Stockton Blvd. , Sacramento). The protest runs from 12Noon to 4 p.m.

Other protests involving Driscoll's have included activists blocking Driscoll's products.

Rojas said Saturday is a National Day of Action in support of the Agricultural Workers of San Quintin (Baja, California, Mexico) and Sakuma Farms (Washington State. Sacramento joins other major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, Kansas City, Topeka, Stockton, Fresno, Portland, Washington DC, Baltimore, Fresno, Tacoma and Burlington, WA and many other cities across the U.S.

The Sacramento Boycott Committee includes independent grassroots groups, student groups, civil rights, human rights, labor and religious leaders.

Driscoll's, headquartered in Watsonville, is a transnational corporation which produces produce, principally strawberries, that are widely sold in the U.S. Driscoll's is the focus of intense protests because of widespread worker abuse, including charges of forced slavery and sexual abuse. Driscoll's has also used a dangerous pesticide banned in other sectors of agriculture – methyl bromide, which exposes farm workers to serious health risks including cancer and respiratory illnesses.

BACKGROUND: A boycott was launched in April by the more than 80,000 agricultural workers in San Quintin: the Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice (or Alianza) who have been waging strikes and mass mobilizations since mid-March 2015 to demand an increase in their daily wage from 100 pesos to 200 pesos per day [raise from $7.50 per day to $15], an eight-hour workday, health care, overtime pay and vacation days, an end to the widespread sexual abuse, an end to child labor, and, most important, the legal recognition of their independent union — the Alianza.

On March 17, 2015, the agricultural workers of San Quintin decided to get out from under the table, to move into the light from the shadows, to demand a living wage and a fair price for each box of strawberries, blackberries, cranberries -- and each bucket of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, peas, cabbages, and Brussels sprouts. They also demanded that the growers respect the existing laws in Mexico, such as the Federal Labor Law and the Law of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS).

"As agricultural workers, we believe that our demands are so basic yet so profound. But so far neither the government of Baja California, nor the Federal government, let alone the federal deputies or senators of the Mexican Republic, has shown any interest in finding a solution to the demands of the workers of the San Quintin Valley. That is why the Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice calls upon all consumers in the United States before they sit down to eat their holiday meal to ponder how the farm produce, especially that from the San Quintin Valley, made it onto their table. It took the life of a human being to plant, cultivate, and harvest that produce. It might have been the life of a pregnant day laborer who does not have access to healthcare because she is not covered by the IMSS and who, when the day arrives, is forced to give birth outside a hospital of the Ministry of Health or the IMSS. It might have been a worker who earns a pittance for his/her labor and has no benefits, that is, no vacation pay, no profit sharing, no time off on public holidays, no overtime pay. These are some of the demands of the San Quintin farmworkers."

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