The march drew connections between saving the local Beach Flats Community Garden and the global boycott of Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor, founded and based in Santa Cruz County.
[ Boycott Driscoll’s activists and supporters of the Beach Flats Community Garden demonstrate at New Leaf Community Market in downtown Santa Cruz to call upon the grocery chain to stop selling Driscoll’s berries. May 1, 2016. ]
In the spirit of International Workers Day, and in solidarity with the Beach Flats Community Garden and the boycott Driscoll’s movement led by indigenous farmworkers, demonstrators in Santa Cruz, California marched on May 1, 2016 from City Hall to New Leaf Community Market and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The spirited march drew connections between saving the treasured local garden and boycotting Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor, founded and based in Santa Cruz County since 1904.
Continue reading “May Day March for Beach Flats Garden and Boycott Driscoll’s”
The City of Santa Cruz promised to seek acquisition of the land for a permanent garden, instead they bulldozed 40% of the garden to facilitate Seaside Company’s agenda.
[ Beach Flats Gardeners, including Don Emilio Martinez Castañeda (left) who has been cultivating in the garden since it began over twenty five years ago, lead the march up Pacific Avenue and they cross Laurel Street in downtown Santa Cruz. April 26, 2016. ]
Is the City of Santa Cruz Really Committed to the Beach Flats Neighborhood?
Gardeners and Supporters March on City Hall Demanding that Council Follow Through With Previous Commitment to Purchase Land
On April 26 the Santa Cruz City Council gave their six-month report on the progress of the City’s efforts to acquire the property containing the Beach Flats Community Garden. At the meeting, the City Council agreed to a three year lease for the garden. However Josh Brahinsky of the Beach Flats Garden Coalition points out, “The lease only covers 60% of the previous garden, and has a 60 day escape clause for Seaside Company, and thus does not provide long-term security for the garden.”
Students at UC Santa Cruz advocating for the gardeners and the garden declare, “It is time to turn up the heat! The city broke their agreements about protecting the garden, both in terms of space promised, and a bunch of trees and cactus that were demolished during Spring Break.”
Continue reading “Beach Flats Gardeners Demand City Council Keep Their Promise”
People started speaking about the Driscoll’s boycott, so Driscoll’s got rid of their strawberries and quickly left Watsonville Earth Day.
[ Michael Garcia of the Watsonville Brown Berets holds a boycott Driscoll’s flyer in front of the Driscoll’s booth at Watsonville Earth Day. April 24, 2016. ]
As the top sponsor of Watsonville’s 14th Annual Earth Day / Day of the Child Festival, the philanthropy specialists at Driscoll’s were hopeful that April 24, 2016 would be a great day at Ramsay Park for promoting their brand. The event was advertised as a “free … local celebration of youth, environment and community … featuring live entertainment, low cost food, jump houses and fun activities with over 50 organizations.” When a few people started speaking about the international boycott of Driscoll’s and handing out flyers, the Driscoll’s representatives quickly dismantled their event booth and got rid of their strawberries as fast as they could. Driscoll’s packed everything up and left before three o’clock even though more than an hour remained of the four hour promotional event.
Continue reading “Driscoll’s Runs Away At Watsonville Earth Day”
What is UFW (United Farm Workers) doing to support farmworkers fighting for justice in San Quintín, México and Washington state? Nothing.
[ FUJ member Lázaro Matamoros and Chelsea Thaw of FUJ’s boycott coordination team carry a Boycott Driscoll’s banner in the annual Cesar Chavez March in Salinas, California. April 3, 2016. Photo by Michal Garcia. ]
On Sunday, April 3, Michael Garcia and fellow Watsonville Brown Berets traveled a short distance to Salinas, California to attend the annual Cesar Chavez March and Rally presented by United Farm Workers (UFW). The Watsonville Brown Berets were joined by members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent farmworker union in Burlington, Washington fighting for a union contract, and initiators of the boycott against Driscoll’s.
The Watsonville Brown Berets (WBB) and FUJ activists spoke with people assembled at Cesar Chavez Community Park and handed out flyers about the growing movement to boycott Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor. FUJ, along with tens of thousands of farmworkers in San Quintín, México, are fighting to end wage theft and poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation from protected union activity.
Although advocating for farmworkers’ rights seems like it would be warmly welcomed by UFW, that was unfortunately not the experience for WBB and FUJ members. Garcia, born and raised in Watsonville, noticed that his friend was working the stage and asked if his group could have some time later to speak about the Driscoll’s boycott. Garcia’s friend, who was both the owner of the stage and a mariachi musician performing at the event, agreed to provide Garcia time. The stage owner, however, was then reportedly approached by UFW representatives and specifically told that UFW does not want WBB or FUJ speaking from the stage.
Continue reading “UFW Tries to Silence Boycott Driscoll’s Activists at Cesar Chavez March”
Watsonville community members support the boycott against Driscoll’s, the world famous berry company headquartered in their town.
[ Emmanuel Ballesteros of the Watsonville Brown Berets, standing on the median of Main Street in Watsonville, California, holds a sign above his head declaring, “Respect the Farmworkers. Boycott Driscoll’s.” April 2, 2016. ]
Over 300 farmworker families in Burlington, Washington are currently waging a historic struggle for a union contract at Sakuma Brothers Farms. They are asking consumers to boycott Driscoll’s berries, which includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), the farmworkers’ independent union, is fighting to end wage theft and poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation from Sakuma from protected union activity.
Lázaro Matamoros from Oaxaca, México, a farmworker at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Washington state and a rank and file union member of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, held signs on Main Street in Watsonville on Saturday, April 2 to raise awareness in the community regarding “Driscoll’s Exploitation” from “Border to Border.” Matamoros was joined by fellow FUJ activists who are currently on a 28-day tour of the West Coast to energize a major offensive on the boycott of Driscoll’s berries, including a March 31 protest outside the company’s headquarters in Watsonville.
Pedestrians and passing motorists were very receptive to flyers handed out asking people to “Respect the families who grow your food. Don’t buy Driscoll’s.” People went out of their way to speak with demonstrators and learn more about the world famous berry company headquartered less than a mile away.
Continue reading “Boycott Driscoll’s Outreach on Watsonville’s Main Street”
After a series of strikes in 2013 at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Washington state, farmworkers formed a union in response to denial of lunch and rest breaks, inhumane housing conditions, wage theft, below minimum wage pay, and harassment from supervisors.
[ Women amplify the call for a global boycott of Driscoll’s berries at Driscoll’s headquarters in Watsonville, California. March 31, 2016. Photos by Bradley Allen. ]
March 31 is the birthday of Cesar Chavez. This year on that date, March 31, 2016, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent farmworker union based in Burlington, Washington, led a demonstration at Driscoll’s headquarters in Watsonville, California to promote the ongoing international boycott of Driscoll’s berries. The workers were in Watsonville as part of a month long tour throughout Oregon and California to build a boycott on the scale of the grape boycott of the 1960s that can win union contracts for berry pickers in both Washington state and San Quintín, México.
Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) President Ramon Torres, rank and file union member Lázaro Matamoros, and Gloria Gracida spokesperson for the independent farmworker union in San Quintín, Mexico, demanded that Driscoll’s get their suppliers to negotiate union contracts with the respective independent unions and informed them that they will continue to organize a consumer boycott of the Driscoll’s label until this demand is met. They were joined by a group of boycott supporters from all over California, many of whom committed to organizing to support the boycott at earlier stops in the tour, including the Watsonville Brown Berets.
Continue reading “Boycott Driscoll’s West Coast Tour at Driscoll’s HQ in Watsonville”
“Louis was a teacher who was fiercely dedicated to justice. He was always supportive and involved in our community work and campaigns.” -Jenn Laskin
[ Louis LaFortune, a volunteer with Guitars not Guns and many other causes, plays guitar at a peace rally on August 2, 2015 in front of the Collateral Damage statue in Santa Cruz to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Photo by Alex Darocy. ]
Louis LaFortune, known to many as Louie LaFortune, passed away unexpectedly on the morning of March 13, 2016 at his family home in Live Oak, a small community nestled between Santa Cruz and Capitola. Register-Pajaronian reports that he died in his home after suffering heart trouble. His family states that he passed quickly without pain or discomfort. Louis’s untimely passing, at the young age of 64, was a sad shock for his family and wide circle of friends.
Louie was a popular teacher at New School, a small high school for at-risk students in Watsonville. Before launching his second career as a teacher — the first was as an auto mechanic — he was a long-standing and dedicated member of the Free Radio Santa Cruz collective, also known as Freak Radio and FRSC.
In 2003, Louie created the Resistance and Renewal program on FRSC, a listener supported and unlicensed “pirate” radio station broadcasting from Santa Cruz since 1995. To the greater community, he was a major advocate of the station, however more importantly Louie often served as a mediator within the dynamic collective when disagreements arose or personalities conflicted.
Continue reading “In Memory of Louis LaFortune, Compassionate Peace Activist”