Boycott Driscoll’s West Coast Tour at Driscoll’s HQ in Watsonville

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.

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In Memory of Louis LaFortune, Compassionate Peace Activist

“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.

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UC Santa Cruz Terminates Historic Stevenson Coffee House

“This is one of the cultural and intellectual hubs of the campus, and it’s impossible to quantify what the university would be losing by closing this space.” – Scott Ferreter of Sacramento

[ Lya Aghaseyedjavadi works the counter at Stevenson Coffee House. January 12, 2016. Photo by Raine Villa. ]

At UC Santa Cruz, a shift to UC Dining across campus is being perceived as part of a plan to privatize the UC. That’s according to a comment by Grace Shefcik on a petition called Save Stevenson Coffee House.

John Hadley, Manager of Stevenson Coffee House for over 30 years, typed a letter to patrons and taped it on the cafe informing them of the news.

“It is with great sadness, I must inform you that in June at the end of Spring Quarter, Stevenson Coffee House will be closing for good and my time as Manager will be ending too.” -John Hadley

The coffee house is a cultural institution whose history and significance extends beyond the university. Hadley explains, “Stevenson Coffee House is the oldest cafe on campus, over 40 plus years of service. When it opened, it was one of few places in Santa Cruz County to have an espresso machine.”

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Message from San Quintín to the United States: Boycott Driscoll’s

Farmworkers declare “we have suffered reprisals, mass dismissals, constant threats, increased workload for the same salary, and are obligated to join corporate unions that have never represented us, in exchange for keeping our jobs, among other labor abuses.”

[ Driscoll’s Headquarters. 345 Westridge Drive in Watsonville, California. ]

Driscoll’s, with headquarters at 345 Westridge Drive in Watsonville, California, is the world’s largest berry distributor and the target of an international boycott.

Besides providing fresh berries to customers around the world, Driscoll’s is often recognized for it’s philanthropy and community involvement. However there is also a dark side to the colorful berry company.

Author and documentarian Tomás Madrigal explains that Driscoll’s has a “notorious track record … when it comes to fighting against farm worker campaigns for worker rights and dignity.”

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