The Pasadena chapter of the NAACP has sent letters to five local businesses threatening to picket and boycott them unless they hire more African Americans within 30 days.
Charles Bereal, Pasadena NAACP president, said the organization’s board decided earlier this week to send the letters to local outlets of well-known food franchises as well as their corporate offices after discovering that the businesses had few or no African Americans on the payroll.
“If they don’t want to hire our people, then we won’t spend our money there,” Bereal said Thursday. African Americans account for one in five people in Pasadena.
The businesses targeted by the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People are International House of Pancakes, Taco Bell, Popeye’s Chicken, KFC and Pep Boys. All denied discriminating against blacks.
Bereal alleged that at the Pep Boys outlet, a woman in charge told him the company “did not have to hire blacks.”
“Our kids need to go to college,” Bereal said, “and they need to work to support themselves. These entry level jobs allow these kids to make it.”
Owners, managers and corporate officials, many of whom had not seen the letter sent Wednesday, reacted with surprise Thursday to the possible boycott.
Pep Boys Manager Jeff Cieszkowski said his store does not discriminate and has two African American employees. “I am not sure what conversation was had with [the applicant] but we accept applications all day,” he said.
Officials at the Popeye’s, Taco Bell and KFC outlets all said they do not have black employees, but have previously had African American workers.
The two IHOP franchises referred calls to corporate offices. Mark Weisberger, IHOP’s vice president of legal affairs, said he has seen the letter. His company has a strong policy against discrimination, but Weisberger said the company will investigate the charges.
Bereal said Pep Boys’ corporate office responded to his fax with an offer to help Pasadena African Americans get the right training to move into managing its stores.