Valentine’s Day Action
Update 28/2 8pm: Ah, some context might be useful since you can’t read the description on YouTube from over here! Heh, my bad.
Valentine’s Day sometimes brings chocolates and sometimes flowers. But Valentine’s Day in Oakland, California, brought angry women out to the Mi Pueblo supermarket in the heart of the barrio. There they tried to speak to the chain’s owner, Juvenal Chavez, not about love, but about the sexual harassment of women who work there.
Mi Pueblo worker Laura Robledo’s story, in her own words:
Hello, my name is Laura Robledo. I am a single mother of three children. Last October I started working for Mi Pueblo Foods at the McLaughlin Avenue Store, in San Jose. Recently I was suspended and later-on fired for alleged misbehavior.
During the first few weeks of employment, a co-worker began to sexually harass me on a constant basis.
The company allegedly conducted an investigation on this matter finding no apparent cause for disciplinary action against the alleged harasser. It seems that the individual that harassed me still works at Mi Pueblo. This makes me feel humiliated.
I believe management fired me because I decided not to remain silent. There could be more women that have been sexually harassed but are too afraid to speak up.
Last December I attempted to hand deliver a letter to Juvenal Chavez, the owner of Mi Pueblo Foods. But I was stopped by several male security guards at the entrance of Mi Pueblo headquarters in San Jose. In this letter I challenge Mr. Chavez to talk to me in person so I can tell him what it really means for female employees to work at Mi Pueblo Foods.
On Valentine’s Day, 2013, supported by members of local group Dignity & Resistance; workers organizing in Walmart retail stores; and union members and staff of UFCW, Laura again tried to deliver her letter, and again security guards blocked the way. Undeterred, workers and community members will continue finding ways to fight not only sexual harassment in Mi Pueblo Foods, but also discrimination against African-Americans, e-verify attacks on undocumented workers, and attacks on workers who wish to form a union at Mi Pueblo.
If I could instantly acquire two new digital skills, they would be:
Knowing How To Code
Knowing How To Make Good Videos.
As it stands, I know zero about the former, and above is my latest attempt at generating media from an action around the Mi Pueblo Grocery fight, an ongoing campaign that I’ve been working on for some months here in Oakland.
Learning, slowly learning.
The action was nice, if a little gender-simplistic. (Queers and gender-nonconforming folks, if they can get work at all, also face hella sexual harassment on the job; it’s not just women.)
Still, the fierce women trabajadoras in the video inspire me.
Moving, patiently and persistently. Patiently and persistently.