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San FArncisco: Immigrant Group Calls for Boycott Wells Fargo Bank

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    Immigrant Group Calls for Boycott By DEBORAH KONG .c The Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A coalition of Mexican immigrants has called for a boycott of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2002
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      Immigrant Group Calls for Boycott

      By DEBORAH KONG
      .c The Associated Press

      SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A coalition of Mexican immigrants has called for a
      boycott of Wells Fargo banks to support Mexican laborers who claim money is
      owed to them for working on American farms and railroads more than 50 years
      ago.

      Members of the Council of Presidents of Mexican Federations of Los Angeles
      also protested in front of a bank in downtown Los Angeles Thursday. They
      urged people not to sign up for new accounts with the bank, and to close
      current accounts.

      Wells Fargo, which was responsible for transferring workers' withheld wages
      to a Mexican bank, could owe the workers millions in back wages, said
      Guadalupe Gomez, president of the council.

      ``They need to tell the people where their money went,'' said Martha Jimenez,
      a spokeswoman for one of the groups, the Zacatecas Federation. ``We need to
      get the documentation.''

      A Wells Fargo spokesman said the bank fulfilled its obligations.

      ``We believe we completely fulfilled our responsibility to transfer the
      money,'' Wells Fargo spokesman Larry Haeg said Thursday. ``We never held the
      savings account or checks of any individual braceros.''

      The workers include more than 300,000 Mexicans who came to the United States
      between 1942 and 1949 to harvest crops and maintain railroad tracks as guest
      workers. Called ``braceros,'' after the Spanish word for arm, they came to
      this country under an agreement between the United States and Mexico aimed at
      filling labor shortages caused by World War II.

      Under the agreement, 10 percent of each worker's wage was to be withheld and
      transferred, via U.S. and Mexican banks, to individual savings funds set up
      for each bracero. But many braceros said they never received that money when
      they returned to Mexico.

      The workers filed a class-action lawsuit in San Francisco in March 2001
      seeking repayment of the money deducted from their paychecks, plus interest.
      They did not specify the amount owed but advocates estimated it at $500
      million.

      The council kicked off the boycott by setting fire to Wells Fargo debit cards
      in front of the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles Wednesday night after
      hearing that a judge rejected the lawsuit by the workers.

      U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer wrote that he did ``not doubt that
      many braceros never received savings fund withholdings to which they were
      entitled. The Court is sympathetic to the braceros situation.''

      But Breyer concluded in a ruling lawyers received Wednesday that the braceros
      were not entitled to any relief from the Mexican or American governments, or
      Wells Fargo in a United States court of law.



      08/29/02 22:41 EDT


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