Grocery union calls off boycott of state - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Grocery union calls off boycott of state

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Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010 9:00 am | Updated: 10:58 pm, Fri Sep 24, 2010.

With its endorsed candidates under fire, the international parent of state's largest grocery union on Thursday called off its boycott of Arizona.

James McLaughlin, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99, said in a prepared statement the boycott calls followed the April decision of Gov. Jan Brewer to sign what was billed as the toughest state immigration law in the country. He said that is no longer necessary because a federal judge barred the state from enforcing "the most problematic provisions'' of SB 1070.

McLaughlin said that injunction paves the way for a calmer discussion of the issues.

He acknowledged that injunction was issued in late July. But McLaughlin denied that the decision by UFCW International to rescind the call now was because of the political buffeting both the union and those it supports are taking.

"The decision makers (at the international level) were dealing with other things,'' he said.

McLaughlin said the boycott was never the idea of his local. But that did not stop Republicans, led by Brewer, from using it to bash not only the union but anyone it supports.

In fact, Republicans organized a coordinated effort calling on anyone endorsed by the UFCW to renounce the union support because of the boycott call, including a TV commercial by Brewer saying Democrat Terry Goddard is endorsed by "big labor organizations who are financially supporting the boycott of Arizona businesses.''

That put Goddard in the position of having to say while he's proud of his union endorsements, he never supported the boycott.

McLaughlin said there's also a more practical reason his local urged its parent to end the boycott.

"It wasn't allowing people to focus on what the real issues are here in the state,'' he said. "We were giving the governor and her people a pass to just continue to rail on the immigration issue when we should be talking about so many other things.''

McLaughlin said there needs to be "calm, reasoned discussion'' of a plan to secure the border. That mirrors what Brewer and other Republicans have been saying.

But he said there also needs to be a "workable, humane plan to finally reform our nation's immigration laws,'' a call that likely would mean a path to providing legal status to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

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