Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Union Leader Unreasonable; No Wonder Boycott Fizzling

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Union Leader Unreasonable; No Wonder Boycott Fizzling

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

If Nelson Cuba has learned anything from his call to boycott Gate Petroleum, it should be that he did it the wrong way.

Not long ago, Cuba, president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, urged members of the powerful union to shun Gate stations, which are owned by the family of Mayor John Peyton.

In an e-mail to members, he wrote: "It's time to take action.

"As most of you have read recently, Mayor Peyton has said that he is coming after our pensions, no pay raises for the next two fiscal years and wants to increase our contribution to health care.

"... I believe it's time for us to send our own message and hit the mayor in his pocket. I'm asking that each and every one of you refrain from using Gate stations.

"If you need gas, a cup of coffee, or just the use of a bathroom, go to any other business in the area.

"JUST SAY NO TO GATE. "Together, we can send a strong message to the mayor that if he is willing to take from our families the basic necessities that they are accustomed to, then he too will feel the pain ..."

So far, not many people - even his own police officers - are saying no to Gate.

Maybe that's because the pain Cuba says the police may face because of Peyton's plans to freeze their salaries and to ultimately reform pensions doesn't hurt as much as the recession-related pain many workers are currently feeling.

So instead of a boycott, Cuba got a reality check. But what he really needed was a history lesson.

First of all, history shows us that boycotts can work.

When scores of black people avoided riding the buses in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, it did more than nearly shut down the public transportation system. It exposed the indignities and unfairness of segregation to the world.

The combined forces of exposure, empathy and economic pressure ended segregation on the buses - and ultimately brought the Jim Crow system to its knees. …

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