July 5 2002

New LULAC Leader Outlines Plan of Action

HOUSTON, TX – The League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC, has called for stronger action to be taken against one of the nation’s largest restaurant chains aimed at stepping up pressure to resolve a labor dispute that began more than a year ago.

“Today, we have passed a national resolution following Pizza Hut’s refusal to support the United Farm Workers in its efforts to obtain decent benefits and better wages for its members by continuing to buy mushrooms from Pictsweet Farms, “said Hector Flores, National LULAC President.

“It is unconscionable that Pictsweet has failed to bargain in good faith and instead attempted to undermine and decertify UFW’s employees despite overwhelming support by the workforce and the community. Moreover, the company has further hurt Latinos by closing a plant in Salem, Oregon that impacted hundreds of workers,” said Flores.

“Pizza Hut’s continued business with Pictsweet flies in the face of the will of an important segment of its market. Moreover, it raises serious questions of Pizza Hut’s quest for corporate profits at the expense of human suffering. It is time and in Pizza Hut’s best business interest that they immediately stop buying mushrooms from a company that steadfastly refuses to address basic human needs of its Latino employees. Is short term financial gain really worth long term loss of market share if millions of Latinos refuse to eat Pizza Hut products?” asked Flores.

Flores was elected President of LULAC at the organization’s 73rd Annual National Conference in Houston, Texas. LULAC is the oldest and largest civil rights advocate for Latinos in the United States.

Flores, 60, has spent more than 35 years in public service. He is the Director of Recruitment with the Dallas Public Schools and is credited with bringing hundreds of bilingual educators and other teaching professionals to the district classrooms.

“Either through osmosis from my parents and my wife or my direct involvement in community, learning has always been at the center of my adult life. Education is the cornerstone to everything else I have undertaken and continues to be the greatest challenge we face today,” said Flores.

“This is why I am so concerned about the potential impact of High Stakes Testing on our community. One test alone cannot and should not determine the outcome of an individual student, a school or an entire mode of learning within a community. It’s a bad idea and counterproductive to getting a true representation of what is happening within out classrooms,” said Flores.

“Effective assessment requires a multi-dimensional process and multiple criteria that can enable us to accurately determine the fate of the students. Our state education agencies must also support accountability practices that help gauge the true needs of the children. Educators and parents cannot formulate effective plans and solutions until we have policies that provide accurate dropout rates and test outcomes. This data will help identify existing educational disparities. It is all too clear that current policies hide and camouflage student needs,” Flores added.

The convention, attended by more than 8,000, also focused on other major issues affecting Latinos in the United States. Among those concerns adopted as the focus of LULAC’s 2002-2003 Legislative Platform are:

 Affirmative action

 Citizenship and voting

 Education

 Criminal justice reform

 Hate Crimes

 Health

 Immigration

 Racial Profiling

Specific LULAC actions have been called for centering on the impact on Latinos of proposed cutbacks in Medicaid prescription benefits; school voucher initiatives and access to quality health care including improved cultural competency by health care professionals attempting to serve the needs of Latinos. Also, LULAC is calling for changes in state laws that will allow Latino immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses using forms of ID other than a Social Security card including identification documents from their country of origin.

“Each of these issues has been brought forward by LULAC members who are facing difficult civil rights challenges in their individual communities from one side of the U.S. to the other,” said Flores. “Our job now is to prioritize these and other concerns that need our immediate attention and we will not relent until they are resolved,” he concluded.

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