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Grocery Union Threatens Pickets Across U.S., Canada
Reuters (via Yahoo News) ^ | 16 December 2003 | Sue Zeidler

Posted on 12/17/2003 11:33:14 AM PST by CounterCounterCulture

Grocery Union Threatens Pickets Across U.S., Canada

Tue Dec 16, 7:55 PM ET

By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Union leaders on Tuesday called for pickets of Safeway stores across North America in support of 70,000 Southern California grocery workers who have been out of work for two months in a contract dispute with Safeway and two other leading chains.

Over the next few weeks, the United Food and Commercial Workers union said it would ask consumers not to shop at Safeway stores. Protests could also broaden to include acts of civil disobedience by supporting religious groups, a union spokesman said after a rally in Los Angeles.

Talks between the UFCW, which represents some 1.4 million workers, and Safeway Inc., Albertsons Inc. and Kroger Co. are set to resume on Friday under federal mediation.

Both sides remain far apart on the key issue of how much the grocery chains should pay for employee health insurance coverage under a new contract. The union has singled out Safeway for taking the toughest line in negotiations.

The labor dispute has been widely watched both as a sign of the wider debate on U.S. employee health care coverage and for its potential to cut operating costs for the grocery chains, something they say they need to compete with cut-rate operators like Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

"We are going to target Safeway operations in the U.S. and Canada -- we are going to ask workers, consumers and communities to 'shop-out' and shut down Safeway's profits," Doug Dority, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, said at a news conference.

"We want to empty the stores as well as the cash drawers. Safeway only understands money, so we will take action to cut them off from the source of their money -- workers, consumers and communities," he said.

Labor leaders from across the country gathered on Tuesday to discuss the strike as thousands of strikers and supporters staged a march through the streets of Century City and Beverly Hills.

THREAT DISMISSED

Brian Dowling, a spokesman for Safeway, dismissed the threatened union action.

"This is nothing new. They've been calling for a version of this for a long time," noting that the union had recently picketed in Washington, D.C. and northern California with minimal impact.

"It's an old tactic and it won't impact what's going on in Southern California. The irony is we're going to the bargaining table on Friday and they're calling for a boycott," he said.

TWO-MONTH OLD DISPUTE

The strike began on Oct. 11, when workers staged a walkout at Safeway's Vons and Pavilions stores. The next day, Albertsons and Ralphs, a unit of Kroger, which bargain jointly with Safeway, locked out their unionized employees.

Talks have hit an impasse even though the financial pain on both sides has mounted.

Kroger, for example, posted third-quarter earnings that were half of what Wall Street had expected after the labor dispute drove shoppers away from its stores.

Striking workers, meanwhile, have been collecting strike pay of only about $200 a week from the UFCW, which has not said how much the strike has cost.

"We will not allow the elimination of health care benefits. We will not allow workers to be starved into giving up health care for their families," Dority said on Tuesday.

Others who spoke at the press conference included John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO umbrella union body; Melissa Gilbert, president of the Screen Actors Guild; and John Connelly, president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Tuesday's gathering also served as a fundraiser, with various union leaders from around the country and Canada pledging money to help the striking workers.

"The UFCW International Union already has a financial package to fund the basic strike benefit well into the new year," said Dority, adding that "millions of dollars are being poured into Southern California to win this fight."


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: albertsons; grocerystores; kroger; labor; pavilions; pickets; safeway; strike; unions; unionthugs; vons
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Bust the unions!
1 posted on 12/17/2003 11:33:15 AM PST by CounterCounterCulture
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To: CounterCounterCulture
This has been going on since mid-October. When do the stores get to hire other workers PERMANENTLY???
2 posted on 12/17/2003 11:35:39 AM PST by BunnySlippers (Help Bring Colly-fornia Back ...)
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Associated Press version...

LINK
3 posted on 12/17/2003 11:36:58 AM PST by CounterCounterCulture (America works best without union pests --- UNION NO!)
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To: CounterCounterCulture
This is getting old. Imo, the unions are being unreasonable.
4 posted on 12/17/2003 11:37:12 AM PST by TheSpottedOwl (Happy Iraqi Independence Day!!!!)
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To: CounterCounterCulture
I never shop at Safeway, but if these twits start picketing, guess where my next grocery trip is to.
5 posted on 12/17/2003 11:37:40 AM PST by Don W (Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another. <I>Juvenal, Satires</I>)
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To: CounterCounterCulture
why on earth would they do that? the pickets arent being honored here in LA, and most of their membership is looking for lower paying jobs...

6 posted on 12/17/2003 11:38:39 AM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: CounterCounterCulture
Looks like I'm going to be shopping at Safeway a lot soon.
7 posted on 12/17/2003 11:38:42 AM PST by CWOJackson
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To: CounterCounterCulture
I wish the unionists would do their walking around here---that would give me an excuse to shop there.
8 posted on 12/17/2003 11:45:04 AM PST by eleni121
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To: BurbankKarl
why on earth would they do that? the pickets arent being honored here in LA, and most of their membership is looking for lower paying jobs...

The pickets are being honored out here in Ontario (suburbia), out here there are already plenty of alternatives to Albertsons, Vons, and Ralphs. Combined with the teamsters sympathy strikes at distribution warehoueses and there is NO POINT in crossing the picket lines. The stores are largely empty of merchandise anyhow, and their bakeries, pharmacies, delli's are all closed (which is the main reason to go to a store like Alebertson's anyhow).

A pox on both their houses.

9 posted on 12/17/2003 11:49:18 AM PST by Smogger
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To: CounterCounterCulture
I live next door in Nevada and shop at Safeway. It'll be interesting to see if my store strikes....a week before Christmas.
10 posted on 12/17/2003 11:52:00 AM PST by randog (Everything works great 'til the current flows.)
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To: Smogger
thats not true...the stores have stuff delivered by vendors and non union trucks.....yes, there are shortages....

of course, now a group of us is hitting Wal-Mart every 10 days.....man are their prices low!
11 posted on 12/17/2003 11:52:58 AM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: CounterCounterCulture
These union fat cats would happily starve millions of Americans if it allowed them to get a nickel more in union dues. And, they wonder why millions of jobs flee the country to escape their extortion.
12 posted on 12/17/2003 11:53:07 AM PST by Tacis
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To: BurbankKarl
yes, there are shortages....

Running out of microwave popcorn, and dogfood is what I would call a BIGTIME shortage. And this is at FOOD 4 LESS which is only affected by the Teamsters sympathy strike NOT by picketers.

13 posted on 12/17/2003 12:00:21 PM PST by Smogger
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To: CounterCounterCulture
"Over the next few weeks, the United Food and Commercial Workers union said it would ask consumers not to shop at Safeway stores. Protests could also broaden to include acts of civil disobedience by supporting religious groups, a union spokesman said after a rally in Los Angeles."

"Religious groups" and unions. What a combinatiom. If anyone needed any more evidence that the WCC is the Enemy, this should convince them.

Up theirs. THIS consumer will shop wherever she darned well PLEASES, and is NOW more likely to stop at stores that ARE being picketed.

Unions have been ruining this country since the '70's. We NEED a national right to work law.

14 posted on 12/17/2003 12:01:08 PM PST by cake_crumb (UN Resolutions = Very Expensive, Very SCRATCHY Toilet Paper)
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To: CounterCounterCulture
Others who spoke at the press conference included John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO umbrella union body; Melissa Gilbert, president of the Screen Actors Guild. . .

It appears as though half-pint has developed into a half-wit.

Michael M. Bates: My Side of the Swamp

15 posted on 12/17/2003 12:03:20 PM PST by mikeb704
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To: CounterCounterCulture
"We will not allow the elimination of health care benefits"

Grey signed legislation forcing companies to pay health benefits to gay partners, didn't he? Companies can't afford it.

16 posted on 12/17/2003 12:17:54 PM PST by cake_crumb (UN Resolutions = Very Expensive, Very SCRATCHY Toilet Paper)
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To: Tacis
These union fat cats would happily starve millions of Americans if it allowed them to get a nickel more in union dues. And, they wonder why millions of jobs flee the country to escape their extortion.

These idiots - the true sheeple of this country - have NO clue why we cross the picket lines. BTW I find it so much nicer shopping in an uncrowed store with people who look happy to be working rather than before when again THEIR social schedule talking to their co-workers while I was in line. I just hope that the stores (in this issue) hold out forever. I do not want these ingrates back in my face ever again.

17 posted on 12/17/2003 12:19:34 PM PST by Digger
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To: CounterCounterCulture
Not a problem down here. Good luck to the rest of you.
18 posted on 12/17/2003 12:31:09 PM PST by Beck_isright (This tag line edited by the 9th Circuit Court due to offensive political commentary)
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To: CounterCounterCulture
You can bet I'll be doing ALL my shopping at Safeway!!
19 posted on 12/17/2003 12:32:34 PM PST by caisson71
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To: cake_crumb
We NEED a national right to work law.

California is already a "right to work" state. You can by terminated at any time for any reason. Likewise you can quit at anytime for any reason. Furthermore, you can't be bound by non-competition clauses.

20 posted on 12/17/2003 12:42:12 PM PST by Smogger
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To: Smogger
head to walmart....

shaving creme... 88 cents
deodorant ... $2
extralarge TUMS $5 <--for watching CNN

21 posted on 12/17/2003 12:44:17 PM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: CounterCounterCulture
"...locked out their unionized employees."

Look them all out! And don't rehire them. Let these leeches and shakedown artists go destroy some other business.

22 posted on 12/17/2003 12:48:29 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: Don W
I was going to pick up items I knew would be in stock at Smart & Final today. Instead it will be second on my list if I can't find what I need at Vons (Safeway).

These spoiled union parasites need to be taught a lesson. My animosity toward them will not go away even if they decide to settle.
23 posted on 12/17/2003 12:50:13 PM PST by Bernard Marx ("Do what you are afraid to do." Anonymous.)
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To: cake_crumb
"Unions have been ruining this country since the '70's."

'30s.

24 posted on 12/17/2003 12:52:04 PM PST by Bonaparte
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To: CounterCounterCulture
Striking workers, meanwhile, have been collecting strike pay of only about $200 a week from the UFCW, which has not said how much the strike has cost.

A different news article on FR recently said the San Diego county union locals of UFCW were reducing the strike pay from $300/wk to only $100/wk, with $150 for strike captains. The strikers probably won't want to keep striking with such low pay.

If all 70,000 striking grocery employees were getting $200/wk for nine weeks, the product would be $126 million. There's the additional union loss of the potential union dues during those nine weeks.

I wonder if these strikers have health coverage during the strike period. It wouldn't make sense for Ralphs/Albertsons/Vons to pay for health coverage if the strikers aren't working, but I doubt the unions would pay, either.

25 posted on 12/17/2003 12:59:14 PM PST by heleny
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To: BunnySlippers
When do the stores get to hire other workers PERMANENTLY???

Someone posted on another thread that he asked his Albertsons store that question, and the reply was that they could close for 30 days, and, upon reopening, they could hire the new people permanently. Apparently, they're actually considering doing that.

26 posted on 12/17/2003 1:01:46 PM PST by heleny
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To: Tacis
You said it, its the union leaders that tell the unionised employess to strike, then the employees receive strike pay, some times the pay is 1/2, to 1/4 of their actual wage...meanwhile the union leaders pull up in there mercedes while collecting there full wage salarlies and tell the picketers that they are doing a great job...and that the union needs them out there picketing..

Very "Animal Farm" if you ask me...
27 posted on 12/17/2003 1:02:41 PM PST by MD_Willington_1976 (Happy Holidays Freepers...)
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To: Smogger
Unless your company's headquarters are in a non right to work state, apparently. For a right to work state, CA sure has a lot of different unions that have an awful lot of influence. Sounds more like it's a right to work state mostly in name only.
28 posted on 12/17/2003 1:08:02 PM PST by cake_crumb (UN Resolutions = Very Expensive, Very SCRATCHY Toilet Paper)
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To: Don W
I never shop at Safeway, but if these twits start picketing, guess where my next grocery trip is to.

I used to shop Ralphs, but because the strikers aren't picketing Ralphs, the store gets too crowded on weekends.

I now go to Albertsons or Vons, where I can shop in peaceful, wide-open aisles. The shelves and produce are all neat, too, (except for the expired milk). I can also worry less about ill people coughing or sneezing everywhere inside the store.

29 posted on 12/17/2003 1:08:04 PM PST by heleny
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To: heleny
...they could close for 30 days, and, upon reopening, they could hire the new people permanently.

I'm not sure that's true. Besides, how would that help them? The stores are free to hire replacement workers (they would have to give the strikers their jobs back after the strike, however) and run their stores as they normally would. Even if they shut down for 30 days, the situation remains the same--the picketers are out front and the Teamsters et.al. are still sympathy striking.

30 posted on 12/17/2003 1:08:49 PM PST by randog (Everything works great 'til the current flows.)
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To: CounterCounterCulture
Unions are thugs.
31 posted on 12/17/2003 1:10:02 PM PST by Protagoras (Hating Democrats doesn't make you a conservative.)
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To: CounterCounterCulture
"We want to empty the stores as well as the cash drawers. Safeway only understands money, so we will take action to cut them off from the source of their money -- workers, consumers and communities," he said.

OK. Now where do you intend to work after you "empty the cash drawers"? Safeway understands money enough to know that they won't be in business very long if they operate at a loss.

Bring in the WalMart!

32 posted on 12/17/2003 1:12:33 PM PST by meyer
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To: Protagoras
Unions are thugs.

There is sure a lot of union bashing on this thread. I wonder if all if you will take the same stance when the Sheriff's, local police, firefighters, and prison guards conduct a work action.

33 posted on 12/17/2003 1:14:25 PM PST by Smogger
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To: Smogger
The stores are largely empty of merchandise

Not here in San Diego. The shelves are well-organized. Maybe they'll be missing one of the ten available varieties of each thing, but that's hardly "empty." Vons had some good sale prices on a few items, and they actually didn't run out of the sale items, unlike in the past when the sale items would always run out before the weekend.

bakeries, pharmacies, deli's are all closed (which is the main reason to go to a store like Alebertson's anyhow).

I think some just have reduced hours, but they're not all closed; I saw that the pharmacies are open reduced hours. I don't use those services, but the stores are probably losing a lot of their profits from those high-margin services. Meat counters were closed when I went to Ralphs a few weeks ago.

34 posted on 12/17/2003 1:15:13 PM PST by heleny
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To: cake_crumb
For a right to work state, CA sure has a lot of different unions that have an awful lot of influence.

The ones that wield the most influence in this state are the public employees unions: police, sheriffs, firefighters, teachers, clerks, and prison guards. Paticularly the prison guards.

Grocery store employees don't wield very much power here in Cali.

35 posted on 12/17/2003 1:16:54 PM PST by Smogger
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To: Smogger
California is already a "right to work" state.

No, it's not.

36 posted on 12/17/2003 1:17:17 PM PST by heleny
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To: randog
I'm not sure that's true. Besides, how would that help them? The stores are free to hire replacement workers (they would have to give the strikers their jobs back after the strike, however) and run their stores as they normally would. Even if they shut down for 30 days, the situation remains the same--the picketers are out front and the Teamsters et.al. are still sympathy striking.

I don't know, either, since there weren't many details. The idea was to bust the union, so that their strikers wouldn't keep striking if they all lost their jobs. Maybe the stores would close permanently, and new stores (under the same owner) would use the old locations.

The Teamsters don't like this strike at all. Apparently, they're not getting strike pay, and some still remember that the grocery store union didn't support the Teamsters when they were on strike.

37 posted on 12/17/2003 1:24:27 PM PST by heleny
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To: heleny
The Teamsters don't like this strike at all. Apparently, they're not getting strike pay, and some still remember that the grocery store union didn't support the Teamsters when they were on strike.

My neighbor is one of the striking teamster's that recounted this little bit for me.

38 posted on 12/17/2003 1:26:41 PM PST by Smogger
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To: Smogger
A pox on both their houses.

I remember when the unions drove Safeway clear out of Texas, about 12 years ago. Safeway stores became Apple Tree, which was later bought out by Randall's, which had higher prices and fewer stores than Safeway.

I usually shop at both Safeway and Albertsons here in No. California, but I will be doing all of my shopping at Safeway, until this blows over. Besides, Safeway has home delivery, no delivery fee on orders over $150, the same prices as in the store, and really fresh meats and produce.

39 posted on 12/17/2003 1:30:41 PM PST by giotto
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To: giotto
It was likely massive debt from Safeway's enormous leverage buy out in the late 80's led by KKR (same ppl that LBO'd RJR Nabisco) They abandoned Southern California around the same time.

They still are saddled with a crippling multi-billion dollar debt from that LBO and subsequent takeovers of Vons, and a Chicago based grocer among others. They simply paid too much for those acquisitions.
40 posted on 12/17/2003 1:36:23 PM PST by Smogger
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To: CounterCounterCulture
Union leaders on Tuesday called for pickets of Safeway stores across North America
in support of 70,000 Southern California grocery workers who have been out
of work for two months in a contract dispute with Safeway and two other leading chains.


These "union leaders" must be on the payroll of Wal-Mart!

First, they enthusiatically support illegal immigration...thus ensuring a
growing supply of workers willing, ready and able to take what these same
union leaders would call "scab" jobs.

Second, they are doing all they can to weaken their employers when Wal-Mart is
just about to invade Southern California...when Wal-Mart arrives with lots of
lower prices, more than a few of the stores of these wounded chains will be shuttered.

Finally, going on strike and trying to keep the customers (who pay both the
supermarket bosses, the union leaders and the union members) out of the stores
over two major holidays when sales are HUGH...

Dumb and dumber...
41 posted on 12/17/2003 1:46:32 PM PST by VOA
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To: heleny
That is a terrible way to bust a union. Means the company must, in essense, go out of business for one month!
42 posted on 12/17/2003 1:52:23 PM PST by BunnySlippers (Help Bring Colly-fornia Back ...)
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To: BurbankKarl
In the LA I live in ... Brentwood and Hollywood, the picket lines are largely being honored. My local Gelson's has gotten a lot of the run-over business.

I routinely cross the lines at Von's and Ralph's (no lines) but the shelves are very sparse. And the crowds at Von's and Ralph's are small.

43 posted on 12/17/2003 1:55:32 PM PST by BunnySlippers (Help Bring Colly-fornia Back ...)
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To: BurbankKarl
Their membership, the ones who work at Safeway, should be asking their union leaders why they are organizing a boycott? Even if partially successful, less business means less need for workers, and union employees in Safeway stores would face a lay-off.

I live in So. Cal. The union has screwed their members royally. The strike is now in its third month with no end in sight. These workers will never get back the wages they lost. Once the strike is over, you can count on the supers announcing that quite a few of their stores will be closing. There is an over supply of supermarkets in So Cal. The marginal ones will be closed and the union members will be on the street.

Wal Mart is just now entering the metropolitan areas of CA with their Super Wal Mart stores. In another 2 years, the supers will be decimated unless they get their labor costs under control now.
44 posted on 12/17/2003 1:56:04 PM PST by CdMGuy
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To: Smogger
Damn right. Happy to see it. Public servants should not conduct work actions if they really care about the people. Get union thugs out of vital government services now.
45 posted on 12/17/2003 1:58:18 PM PST by CounterCounterCulture
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To: Smogger
Unions and unions and unions are all thugs. Makes no difference who, what or where they represent. Since the mid 70's they have become a scourge on this country.
46 posted on 12/17/2003 2:13:40 PM PST by cksharks
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To: CdMGuy
I think the first SuperWalmart opens in Palm Desert 1st quarter 2004....

Gilroy 12/2004
Woodland approved
Yuba City approved
Redding approved
Chico approved
Calexico approved
Lodi voting
Manteca voting
Inglewood 2005

Turlock just voted them down
Contra Costa County, Martinez, Oakland, Simi Valley, Paso Robles zoned them out
47 posted on 12/17/2003 2:32:03 PM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: Smogger
They're only a small minorty of union workers. UAW, Teamsters and AFLCIO have pretty much ruined our economy, the NEA is a rabid socialist organization out to steal our country and the hearts and minds of our children. We have no way to make laws to limit the power of unions, so if they go on strike and especially if they get violent with the scabs, yes. Sorry.
48 posted on 12/17/2003 2:33:54 PM PST by cake_crumb (UN Resolutions = Very Expensive, Very SCRATCHY Toilet Paper)
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To: cake_crumb
They're only a small minorty of union workers. UAW, Teamsters and AFLCIO have pretty much ruined our economy

Now it's only a "small minority" of unions that have "ruined our economy"? But the other posters claim all are a "scourge" on our country.

Whatever. I have only been represented by a union once in my short life and I don't recall being much of a "thug" at the time or seeing it as a bad thing. Now that I am an older management type (a programmer not represented by a union) let me tell you if my company tried to screw me over, my "work action" would hurt their bottom line considerably more then standing out in front of their building with a picket sign.

49 posted on 12/17/2003 2:39:40 PM PST by Smogger
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To: CounterCounterCulture
Ummmmm, these grocery workers led by their union thug leaders?

...they're really asking for it.

50 posted on 12/17/2003 2:43:14 PM PST by Landru (Tagline Schmagline...just a drag on my line.)
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