Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Baptist Leader Backs Quincy Farms Asks Union to End Mushroom Boycott

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Baptist Leader Backs Quincy Farms Asks Union to End Mushroom Boycott

Article excerpt

AROUND THE REGION

TALLAHASSEE -- Only weeks after Florida's Catholic bishops

scolded a Quincy mushroom farm in its yearlong dispute with

union organizers, the head of a national Baptist organization

yesterday gave his group's blessing to management.

National Baptist Convention President Henry J. Lyons took issue

with claims made by union organizers that employees at Quincy

Farms have been exposed to unsafe working conditions and that

minorities are being held back from management positions.

For the convention, a group of 8.5 million people, the conflict

is an issue of jobs. For the bishops, it's a matter of social

justice.

Both agree on one thing.

"It's a moral issue," said the Rev. Joseph Wright, a

Tallahassee pastor.

Saying "jobs are hard to come by these days," Lyons said Quincy

Farms is a major employer of African-Americans and Hispanics.

He called on United Farm Workers Union of America backers to

end their assault on the company, which includes a boycott that

so far has drawn the support of only one small grocery chain

with three dozen stores in North Florida and South Georgia.

Wright, pastor of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, said the

convention wants the boycott to end, but that's unlikely.

"The workers called for the boycott, and the boycott

continues," Rebecca Flores Harrington, United Farm Workers Union

vice president, said last night. "It's going to continue until

we get this contract."

The union, which first organized field hands in 1972, no longer

has a contract with any workers in Florida.

Quincy Farms employees never have had a union contract.

Quincy Farms fired 85 mushroom pickers in mid-March following

the arrest of 25 workers who were charged with trespassing after

a noontime demonstration protesting pay and working conditions

at the plant.

The action prompted the union to accuse the company of

retaliating against the workers and to call for a boycott of

mushrooms grown there. …

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