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With Or Without Tom--domino's Boycott Continues

With Or Without Tom--domino's Boycott Continues image With Or Without Tom--domino's Boycott Continues image With Or Without Tom--domino's Boycott Continues image
Parent Issue
Month
November
Year
1989
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
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ANN ARBOR- 'Torn Monaghan isn't the only thing wrong with Domino's," said Jan BenDor, president of Ann Arbor-Washtenaw NOW (National Organization for Women) at an October 19 press conference. "The objectionable policies and investments of Domino's Pizza Corporation would continue even if Torn Monaghan sold out tomorrow," said BenDor. "Any potential buyer of Domino's Pizza will also be buying a boycott," said Jeff Gearhart, spokesperson for the Coalition to Boycott Domino's Pizza, the sponsor of the press conference. Boycotters claim that Monaghan uses pizza profits to promote irresponsible land development, limit women's reproductive freedom, break unions, and promote aright-wing agenda in Central America. Some boycotters are mad simply because Monaghan wants to move Tiger Stadium, the historie home of the Detroit Tigers, a team Monaghan bought with pizza profits in 1983. The Domino 's Pizza boycott was initiated by NOW last January after Monaghan canceled a 1988 NOW-sponsored fundraiser scheduled at Domino's Farms. The event was canceled when Monaghan learned that proceeds would benefit the People's Campaign for Choice. Monaghan also angered the wider pro-choice community by donating $110,000 in 1988 to the Committee to End State-Funded Abortions in Michigan. In July 1989 the Coalition to Boycott Domino's Pizza formed and joined with NOW in calling for a consumer boycott. The Coalition includes NOW, the Latin American Solidarity Committee, the Ann Arbor Committee to Defend Abortion Rights, the Ann Arbor Tenants Union, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Homeless Action Committee, and the Industrial Workers of the World On July 18 and again on Sept. 1 1 the Coalition picketed the entrance to Domino's Farms, the corporation's world headquarters in Ann Arbor Township. The protesters carried signs and handed out leaflets to Domino's employees as they left work. The Coalition's activities attracted the attention of both the local andnational media, including aMacNeilLehrernews crew at the September protest. The story is tentatively set to air in mid-November, according to BenDor. And then came the big announcement: Torn Monaghan might sell Domino's Pizza, a $2.3 billion a year enterprise he spent the last 29 years building. In a Sept. 8 letter to his employees, Monaghan explained that he wan ted more time "to help various charities" and to engage in "prudent estáte planning" (The Ann Arbor News, Sept. 10, 1989). Monaghan's charitable gifts flow from the Domino 's Foundation and have increased sharply in the past few years- from $157,000 in 1987 to an expected $2 million this year, company spokesperson Ron Hingst told the Detroit Free Press (10189). "The major recipiënt of Domino's aid is the Honduras mission," the Free Press reported, "but others benefiting include C.W. Mott Hospital in Arm Arbor and U-M 's athletic program and architecture school." The "Honduras mission" is Monaghan's sponsorship of Father Enrique Sylvestre's mission, based in El Mochito, Honduras. Father Enrique is a Word of God member trained in 1 988 to be a S word of the Spirit coördinator (see 'The Torn MonaghanWord of God Connection," AGENDA, 989). 'The Word of God today is the heart of a sophisticated worldwide organization," Craig T. Smith wrote' in the Ann Arbor Observer (587). "In 1982, on its 15th armiversary, it formed the Sword of the Spirit, an international federation of 44 Christian communi t ies that look to Ann Arbor for leadership." Some think Monaghan's talk of a sale was sparked by the effectiveness of the boycott, rather than any desire to become a full-time philanthropisL "The question' s been asked if the boycott of Domino's Pizza... has affected my thinking," Monaghan wrote recently in a guest column for the Los Angeles Times (91789). "It probably hasn't because the boycott really hasn't hurt bus(see DOMINO'S, page 6) DOMINO'S (from page one) inesses. However, I wouldn't want my support of such social issues to hurt my franchisees in the future." "Another [Domino's] Farms worry and whisper," Bob Talbert gossiped in his Detroit News column. "There are currently more sub $5,50O-a-week outlets - read unprofitable - than ever before" (10 2289). "The Coalition to Boycott Domino's Pizza applauds and takes credit for Monaghan's decisión to distance himself from the Corporation," said Jeff Gearhart. "However, limits upon personal freedom of choice, anti-unionpractices, unsafe working conditions and irresponsible development are inherent within Domino's current corporate practices. It is unclear whether a change in ownership would result in a change in these corporate practices." David Black, president of Domino's since June and the person in charge of the company 's daily operations, told the Detroit Free Press that Domino's "corporate cuitare" is one key to the sale of the company (91 589). Any buyer would have to mesh with Domino 's unique corporate culture and ethics. Black said. That culture includes, some say, a strict employee dress code and a harsh employee drug-testing policy. It also includes, according to Russ Bellant, many Word of Godmembers (National Catholic Reporter, 111888). For example, the president of Thomas S. Monaghan, Inc. (TSM, Inc. ), John E. McDevitt, is a Word of God member, according to a former executive of Domino's who wishes anonymity. Since 1982 McDevitt has had responsibility for management of Domino's Farms Corp., TSM Financial Group, Inc., The Communications Group, Inc., and TSM Properties, Inc. This particular ex-employee believed there were many Word of God members in TSM Inc. Peter Thomasen, Directorof Operationsfor Domino's Services Corp., is also one of five leaders of the Word of God community . Thomasen is also "a er of Washtenaw County Rescue, an anti-abortion group that has blockaded the doors of abortion clinics in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti" (The Ann Arbor News, 102589). Thomasen has been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct at abortion clinics at least three times this year in Washtenaw County. There are also many stories, from a wide variety of sources, that suggest another possible aspect to working for Domino's or one of its Monaghan-owned affiliates like TSM, Inc., or T and B Computing, Inc. Some employees are encouraged, sometimes as a precondition to advancement, to attend a weekend Word of God retreat. It must be stressed that these stories are unconfirmed, and second-hand. Many people fear telling their story to the press directly lest they lose their job. Yet AGENDA has heard so many similar accounts that we feel obligated to print the allegation. Some boycotters allege there are more links between Domino's Pizza, the Word of God community , and Washtenaw County Rescue. They point to facilities and activities at 2630 N. Earhart PI. as an example of a possible connection, or at least the appearance of a network of support. Another group, the Ann Arbor Township-based Coalition of Concemed Neighbors (CCN), points to the same N. Earhart PI. address as yet another example of persistent zoning violations by Domino's Farms. Though not of ficially part of the Coalition to Boycott Domino's Pizza, CCN was represented by Tony Searing at the Oct. 19 press conference. CCN's membership swelled recently to over 100, according to Searing, because of Domino's plans to resurrect their Christmas light show. Residents packed an October 16 Ann Arbor Township Board meeting and were able to persuade the TownshipBoard to vote unanimously to deny the Domino's Light Show permit application. Two days later The Ann Arbor News reponed that Monaghan would defy the Board's ruling and go ahead with the light show, saying he applied for a permit only as a courtesy. "Monaghan's response," said Searing, "showed his true colors, something arearesidents - Domino's (see DOMINO'S, page 11) DOMINO'S p.a.., neighbors - have seen for some time." CCN also alleged a number of zoning violations by Domino's, claiming that "a property owned by a Monaghan Limited Partnership at 2630 N. Earhart PI., Usted as 'Christ King Catholic, ' has been used to hold church services without appropriate zoning." In an Oct. 9 letter to Ann Arbor Township Supervisor Elizabeth Langford, CCN alleges that "during a recent two-week period [ 8 1689 to 82889], 2630 N. Earhart PI. was used on six separate occasions for large group gatherings - some of over 75 cars." On Aug. 27 a sign was placed on the corner of Plymouth Road and N. Earhart PI. directing people to "Armenian Church Services." On Aug. 28 they allege there was a funeral service held at 2630 N. Earhart PI., with cars lining both sides of the s treet. On May 29, according to apublicity flier distributed by Washtenaw County Rescue, a Memorial Day "Fund Raising Rescue Picnic" was held at "Father Frank's house, 2630 N. Earhart PI." All proceeds "will go to Washtenaw County Rescue to save the unborn," the flier said. Washtenaw County Rescue is the local chapter of Operation Rescue, the national organization some opponents cali "Operation Bully" for their sometimes violent protest tactics at abbrtion clinics across the country. District Court records show thatGerry Holowicki, Robert Roloke, and Joseph Stauder all have arrest records, charged with "creating a disturbance" in connection with their participation in one or more "rescues" in Washtenaw county. Court records also show that the three list 2630 N. Earhart PI. as their residence. Records at the Washtenaw County Treasurer's Office identify the owner of 2630 N. Earhart PI. as Domino 's Farms Limited Holding Partnership.ThelistinginBresser's - a directory of addresses - reads: "CHRIST KING C ATHLC, 2 RESIDENCE, 1 BUSINESS." Ameritech Pages also lists 2630 N. Earhart PI. in the "Business" section as the address of Christ the King Catholic Association. Christ the King Catholic Association (CKC A) is one of four congregations associated with the Word of God community. The others are Covenant Presbyterian Church, Cross and Resurrection Lutheran Churches, and the Emmaus Fellowship (non-denominational). As the name would indícate, CKCA is the Catholic branch of the Word of God community (65% of Word of God's members are Catholic). Father Frank McGrath and Father Pat Egan are co-chaplains to the congregation, which falls under the authority of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Lans ing. Father Egan is also the corporate chaplain for Domino's Pizza. Father McGrath admitted in a recent interview that CKCA maintains an office at 2630 N. Earhart PI. Father McGrath also admitted that an" Armenian Church Service" was held in August and a funeral service was also held on the following day. "The funeral," Father McGrath explained, "was for a baby, and we had a larger crowd than expected." "Yes, there was a [fundraising Rescue] picnic in the spring which my friend Joe Stauder helped organize," Father McGrath said. Even though Father McGrath was "host to the event," he denied that the picnic in any way indicated support for Washtenaw County Rescue from either CKC A or the Word of God. Father McGrath did not deny that he personally supported the spirit and purpose of the picnic. "The Word of God community," said spokeperson Dick LaCroix in a recent interview, "is officially neutral when it comes to Washtenaw County Rescue. Word of God does not recommend participation to its members, nor does it discourage it." LaCroix explained that he personally did not approve of Washtenaw County Rescue's tacúes and that the issue was a "divisive" one in the Word of God community. Father McGrath stressed that CKCA has another office downto wn, and that as a private individual renting a home, he was entitled to use the grounds as he wished. When asked if AGENDA could see the lease agreement with Domino's Farms Limited Holding Partnership, Father McGrath refused. Dick Brunvand also refused to show AGENDA any lease agreement for the property. As director of community relations for Domino's Farms, Brunvand said that he was not the "proper authority" on the property in question. The proper authorities, he explained, did not wish to be interviewed by AGENDA. Brunvand admitted knowledge of a business on the premises (CKCA) and also ackno wledged the area was zoned single-family residency. But, he said, any zoning issue was between the tenants and the township. Just who the real tenants of 2630 N. Earhart PI. are at this point is still unclear. During an early anemoon visit to the grounds on October 27, AGENDA learned thatGerry Holowicki, Robert Roloke, and Joe Stauder were "at work," and unavailable for questions, according to an unidentified resident. Father McGrath would grant AGENDA an interview, but it would have to be later that day. While waiting to speak with Father McGrath during the second visit, AGENDA leamed from another unidentified resident that there are six tenants on the property including Father McGrath. They are all single men and they all live in one large, two-story house. The unidentified man said he was "from Malaysia and staving here as part of the Brotherhood." The man said that he has not been in the area that long but had lived with another group of single men on Island Lake Dr. (in Chelsea) and also with a family for a short period. His stay at 2630 N. Earhart PI., he said, was about to end shortly as he was retuming to Malaysia. Father McGrath refused to comment on any residen ts of 2630 N. Earhart PI. Consequently AGENDA was unable to confinn whether "the brotherhood" referred to was the Servants of the Word, " single men's brotherhood that includes Word of God co-founder S teve Clark and nearly 1 00 others" (Ann Arbor Observer, 587). The brothers have "declared themselves permanently single for the Lord" and "live, pray, and eat together in households (Ann Arbor Observer, 587). The Word of God sisterhood is called Servants of God's Love. Father McGrath stressed that "his house" was on grounds at the end of a cul-de-sac and events were not normally large enough to disturb neighbors. The Word of GodCKC A does not normally use the facilities for group meetings, marriages, funerals or Masses, he explained, as larger public buildings like Pease Auditorium at Eastem Michigan University are needed for such functions. The grounds include a very large yard, complete with a tennis court and a pond. Domino 's headquarters are within sight directly to thenorth of the property . In addition to the large, two-story house already described, there are two more buildings, a large free-standing garage and another small two-story house. It is in this smaller of the two houses that CKCA maintains its headquarters. Father McGrath provided an impromptu tour at the end of the interview. The fïrst floor is divided into office space and the second floor is a chapel. Is CKCA violating laws by its activities on property zoned for single-family residential use? Ann Arbor Township Supervisor Elizabeth Langford is the elected official ultimately responsible fo zoning law enforcement in the township. Langford told AGENDA that the township would investígate CCN's allegations about 2630 N. Earhart PI., as well as other zoning violations alleged in CCN's October 9 letter, and, if necessary, take legal action. Is there a connection between Domino's Pizza and CKCA, and between Domino's Pizza and Washtenaw Rescue? The boycotters certainly see one. Domino's says they are just the landlords. Father McGrath says he is just a private individual renting a house on nice grounds, "nice enough to have a few friends over now and then." Will Monaghan sell Domino's? Some critics claim that Monaghan isn't really serious about selling the pizza company he owns 97% of. They claim the timing of the announcement was intended todrownoutnewscoverageoftheboycott,whileproviding Domino's with free and mostly favorable publicity . Whether Monaghan does or doesn't sell Domino's is not important, say boycott organizers. The real question right now, they say, is whether the Coalition to Boycott Domino's Pizza can hurt pizza sales enough to force Domino's to change some of their objectionable corporate policies and practices.

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