Local efforts to enforce the nation-wide United Farm Workers-sponsored boycott of Gallo wines escalated this week and, apparently in response, the targets of the boycott began to fight back.
One week ago, 70 demonstrators picketed at the Harvard Provision Co.--a liquor store on Mt. Auburn St. still selling Gallo--charging that Gallo uses scab labor in their fields in Modesto, California.
The store management insists on what it considers its right to make its own decisions to satisfy customer demand and say it is making a "purely mercantile" choice.
The picketers, including members of the Radcliffe Harvard New American Movement, the Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee and the UFW, have been fairly successful in getting Gallo wines off the shelves in most other Square liquor stores and are urging a total boycott of the Provision Co. Until Gallo comes off the shelf there as well.
By Monday, the picketing and the apparent success of the Gallo shut-off had moved the Boston-area Gallo wine distributor, C. Pappas and Co., to indicate he may go to court to end the picketing.
Any suit to stop the picketing will probably try to win a limit on the number of picketers allowed outside the retail outlet. Previous decisions in similar cases limited the number to as few as three.
However the suit reads and whatever its success, the E & J Gallo Winery Co. has already begun to mobilize a nation-wide advertising campaign to refute the UFW claims, especially in Boston, New York and Toronto where the boycott has been most successful.
The UFW claims that Gallo signed an unfair contract with the Teamsters union in 1973; Gallo refutes the charge and says it has always supported unions and democratic elections.
The local store-owners say they feel victimized by a boycott here when the real dispute is in the California fields. Nevertheless, the battle-lines are being drawn Gallo and the local distributor plan to fight UFW and its student sympathizers with lawyers and ads. The retailers are trying to hold onto an increasingly difficult position as Gallo sales drop.
The boycott strategists say they hope retailers will put pressure on the distributor to in turn pressure Gallo into talking with the UFW.
And to prove that point, they will be out in front of the Pro again tonight.