Member-owners of Puget Consumers Co-op are trying--once again--to institute a PCC boycott of Chinese products.
Last year, PCC management overruled a successful 1996 boycott vote, informing members via newsletter that Chinese products like medicinal herbs would be sold again. The boycott is intended as a protest of China's crummy human rights record.
Undeterred by PCC's reversal, activist members went back to work, and for the second time in four years, they collected the required signatures from the co-op's 35,000 members to force a store-wide vote on the boycott. The balloting is underway now, with a June 1 deadline.
Meanwhile, PCC managers are going out of their way to make sure they don't lose. They've thrown away pro-boycott literature posted at stores, failed to run pro-boycott letters in the PCC newsletter, and recruited and paid staff members to lobby shoppers against the boycott.
They've done all this on company time and with the help of the PCC dime--which in many cases, comes from shoppers who support the boycott.
So... exactly how is PCC different from Safeway?
Steve Lasky, a pro-boycott member who has been involved with food cooperatives since the late '60s, says, "PCC is the least cooperative cooperative I've ever seen. It's just a company."-- Ben Jacklet
NEWLY NAMED SOCIAL PROBLEM SEEKS POSTER CHILDREN
No social problem has ever truly arrived until it has a catchy acronym of its own. Well, say hello to SSDV, or same-sex domestic violence. The city's Domestic Violence Workgroup wants to raise awareness of SSDV, and is seeking gay and lesbian survivors of domestic violence willing to appear on posters slapped up all over Seattle. "The poster campaign [will] reach out to victims/survivors and make the sexual-minority community and the greater community aware of this issue," says Julee Pate, of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.
According to Pate, many people view domestic violence as a strictly heterosexual problem. Since people mistakenly believe all men can defend themselves and women can't be batterers, they think same-sex relationships can't be abusive.
Not only is domestic violence a reality in same-sex relationships, says Pate, but victims face unique hurdles getting help. First, according to Pate, victims of SSDV face limited services--there are no "safe houses" for gay men, and lesbians aren't always welcome in women's shelters. Second, victims of SSDV have a greater likelihood of running into their abuser in the insular gay community. Finally, police called on to intervene in cases of SSDV can have trouble determining just who is battering whom. "Often in SSDV the victim is arrested and not the perpetrator," says Pate.
According to their press releases, the Domestic Violence Workgroup is seeking "survivors who are no longer in a relationship with an abusive partner." That includes survivors of SSDV who have stayed with a reformed abusive partner. If you want to be a SSDV poster child, contact Julee Pate at (206) 645-4514, or e-mail Julee.Pate@ci.seattle.wa.us. Women and people of color (black and blue?) are encouraged to call.--Dan Savage
GOOD IMMIGRANTS, BAD IMMIGRANTS
America's schizophrenic relationship with immigrants is being played out in a particularly absurd fashion here in Seattle.
Seattle is one of a few cities accepting Kosovar refugees, and the media coverage of them has been nearly hysterical. The Times and P-I ran full-color pictures of beautiful, white, Kosovar babies born in America and newly arrived Kosovar children clutching American flags, the sun shining in their eyes. Cue up Neil Diamond: Everywhere around the world! They're coming to America! Washington state is expecting 300 Kosovar families.
Meanwhile, hopeful non-Kosovo immigrants seeking political asylum and work here are hardly greeted with headlines, or even open arms. Nearly 150 immigrants are currently in Seattle prisons; they're often held indefinitely, without translators. Some, having already served their sentences, are still in prison while they await deportation. Others are being held while their refugee status is checked. Seattle INS Detention Center prisoners, like Stanley Scales from the Philippines, have gone on hunger strikes to call attention to the abuses. And the INS raids continue. Last week, an estimated 15 Mexican and Canadian immigrants were arrested at a Belltown construction site.
The hopeful beginnings of Kosovar families as presented in the P-I and Times don't represent the experiences of most immigrants in Seattle--situations that increasingly look like the repression they fled.--Samantha M. Shapiro