Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers aim to ''seriously damage'' the Lucky Stores supermarket chain with a $1 million media blitz and mobilization of California's politically active Hispanic community.
The boycott effort will be the largest since the 1960s push to get nonunion grapes off the market. At issue is Lucky's refusal to stop buying Red Coach brand lettuce from Bruce Church Company, a Salinas Valley producer that the United Farm Workers (UFW) claims has refused to negotiate with the union.
Mr. Chavez said the boycott will give the union its first crack at using sophisticated new tactics to win public support for its cause.
''In the past we always used real basic methods in our fights,'' he said. ''We'd go door to door. We'd hold rallies. We'd picket, leaflet, try to get media attention - all those things.
''This time we're trying something new. We've got demographics and statistics people and professional direct-mail experts. There's a team of people specially trained over the last year and a half for this one.''
The boycott will go beyond trying to persuade shoppers not to buy lettuce from Lucky, Mr. Chavez said. ''We want to seriously damage the company's image.''
Lucky, which operates 1,600 stores in 29 states, says the boycott is ''unfair ,'' because only a few Lucky stores carry Red Coach lettuce.