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Merchants, Blacks Reach Agreement

December 03, 1989

Korean-American merchants, responding to complaints from the black community of rude and insensitive treatment, said Saturday that they will hire an African-American customer service representative to work at their swap meet.

The agreement came in a meeting Saturday between representatives of the L.A. Slauson Swapmeet Inc. and OMNI, the Organization of Mutual Neighborhood Interest, a black community activist group.

OMNI has been picketing outside the swap meet, demanding that the immigrant businessmen inside become more sensitive to the black community in terms of hiring and charitable giving, and that the merchants adopt such uniform business practices as return and refund policies and sales receipts.

For their part, the merchants have said that their limited command of English has led to some misunderstandings and that they operate small, family businesses that cannot afford to do much hiring.

Participants said progress was made at the meeting toward resolving differences and cultural misunderstandings. Other sessions will be held in the future, they said.

"This was like the beginning of the meetings in that we were letting them know what we want," said Jan Ford-Atkins, secretary of OMNI, a community activist group.

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