San FArncisco: Immigrant Group Calls for Boycott Wells Fargo Bank
- 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
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
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
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
FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has
not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making
such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of
environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and
social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any
such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this
site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving the included information for research and educational
purposes. For more information go to: <A
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml</A> If you wish to use
copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond
'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.