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Jackson: Keep pressure on Texaco until culture changes


CEO calls boycott 'divisive'

November 17, 1996
Web posted at: 4:15 p.m. EST

(CNN) -- A day after demonstrations were held at Texaco gas stations nationwide, Rev. Jesse Jackson urged Texaco patrons to carry on with an economic boycott of the oil company.

Jackson said the boycott is needed to pressure Texaco to implement better minority employment policies, improve its economic development practices and establish enforcement of those standards.

His comments came two days after Texaco agreed to the largest racial discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history. Jackson described the settlement as a "good thing," but said it does not indicate a cultural change at the oil company.

"It reflects how bad Texaco has been, not how good they are. We must root out that culture," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"Workers got some money, but those who violated them are still in that place."

-- Rev. Jesse Jackson

In exercising the boycott, Texaco patrons should tear up their Texaco credit cards and take their business elsewhere, Jackson said. But he said African-Americans, himself included, would buy Texaco stock to give blacks a voice at shareholder's meetings.


But Texaco CEO Peter Bijur criticized the tactics as being too divisive. For example, he cited a Texaco retailer who may have to lay off some of his 11 black workers because of the boycott.

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"I think boycotts hurt people. To that extent, they are divisive. They cause economic disruption," Bijur said on CNN's "Late Edition."

He added that the company is doing everything it can to remedy its racial problems, including plans to put more black employees in executive positions and train more minority workers for higher-paying posts.

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Six of Texaco's 873 top executives are African-American.

Under Friday's settlement, Texaco agreed to pay $115 million to about 1,400 current and former employees and to give black employees 10 percent raises. It also will spend $35 million on a task force that is to open opportunities for black workers, monitor discrimination and develop diversity and sensitivity training.

The suit was filed more than two years ago by five current employees and one former worker, but was settled in 11 days after tape recordings surfaced of executives belittling black employees.


NAACP prepared for boycott

Kweisi Mfume, president of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called the settlement "the first step in the right direction." But he said the NAACP wants Texaco to meet certain goals, including diversity development, before letting the oil company off the hook.

"We expect ... that those things will be met," he said on "Late Edition."

If not, Mfume said, the NAACP is ready to carry out a stock divestiture campaign and further demonstrations against Texaco.

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Asked if he supported Jackson's boycott, he wavered and urged people not to look at the African-American community as "monolithic."

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"We are very diverse," he said.

Questioned further on whether he sided with Jackson's boycott, Mfume said the NAACP "supports a person's right to do whatever they feel they must do. If that is boycotting or informational picketing, we support that."

Protesters across the nation demonstrated against Texaco's alleged racial bias on Saturday, marching outside gas stations only hours after the settlement was announced.


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