By: Jennifer Saba
An Arizona newspaper has been accused of censoring ads that criticize a grocery store chain.
The labor union UFCW Local 99, which represents union members of Food City grocery stores, arranged to take out a full-page black and white ad in The Yuma Daily Sun. The ads were scheduled to run three days, March 30, 31, and April 1 corresponding with the city’s celebration of the late labor leader Cesar Chavez.
The ad featured three Food City workers who wanted their grievances about the store to be heard. “They are really upset at the way they have been treated,” said Katy Giglio, a spokeswoman for UFCW Local 99. The union’s Web site on the matter, www.foodcitytruthwatch.com, notes that workers are concerned about their wages.
The ad was titled “Shame on You Food City” and brought to light Food City’s involvement during the city’s weekend celebration of Cesar Chavez. Food City sponsored the stage and food booths at the festival honoring Chavez. “Cesar Chavez stood for the working people,” Nancy Mejias, a Food City cashier, said in a statement. “The ad represented our beliefs, we simply want dignity and respect.”
The ad ran in the Daily Sun’s March 31 edition. But late Friday evening, Giglio said the union received a call from the Daily Sun’s advertising director who informed the union the ad had been pulled. When Giglio asked why, she was told the publisher had a right to decline ads.
Daily Sun Publisher Julie Moreno explained to E&P today that “concerns were raised” about the ad later in the day of March 31. She declined to comment on what those concerns were. She said the paper made a conservative decision and decided to pull the ads that were supposed to run in the Saturday and Sunday editions until further considerations were studied.
Upon further reflection, the paper decided the ads could run and extended an offer to UFCW. “We declined because the events are already over with,” said Giglio.
The paper is refunding the union. Giglio said UFCW paid a little under $8,000 for the media buy.
“We really do respect the Sun,” said Giglio. “It’s frustrating it couldn’t run its full course.”
The Daily Sun has no set advertising policies but when an ad is called into question it’s decided on a case-by-case basis, said Moreno. She also said that Food City is not a regular advertiser with the Daily Sun.