CIW, ALLIES CELEBRATE DECISIVE VICTORY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS!... FORMER PRESIDENT CARTER COMMENDS CIW'S "PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIP IN THIS VERY IMPORTANT CAMPAIGN"
See all the statements of support for this historic agreement below!
four-year Taco Bell boycott is over! Click
here for details on the precedent-setting accord.
Click here for photos and reports from Saturday's day-long Victory Celebration & Rally (3/12).
And don't miss the complete mulitmedia reports from the Truth Tour that turned out the lights on the Taco Bell boycott, including the boycott-ending press conference at Yum Brands (3/8) and the "Our World, Our Rights" Conference on Global Justice (3/11)! Click here for photos, video, audio, and more!
Boycott supporters are already gearing up for the next step in the campaign to make fast food fair food! Stay tuned for information on how you can play a role in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here's the victory press round-up and some kind words from a few names you might recognize.
The Guardian of London (3/12): "Farmworkers win historic deal after boycotting Taco Bell"
La Jornada (3/17): "Jornaleros ganan batalla a Taco Bell"
The Nation (3/11): "Sweet victory: Yo quiero justice"
Palm Beach Post (3/9):
Democracy Now! (3/10):
Palm Beach Post (3/9): "The pickers finally win"
Louisville Courier- Journal (3/13): "Farmworkers celebrate accord"
Common Dreams (3/18): "They Say Tomato, Students Say Justice"
Mother Jones (3/22): "People Power: An Interview with David Solnit"
Notre Dame Observer (3/23): "Celebrating Taco Bell boycott victory"
Louisville Courier-Journal (3/13): "Chuch, student groups aided workers' campaign"
Louisville Courier-Journal (3/9): "Yum picks up Florida field workers"
PR Week (3/9): "Labor group ends Taco Bell boycott"
OC Weekly (3/18): "Now we have faith"
Business Wire (3/8): "CIW, Taco Bell reach groundbreaking agreement"
Tallahassee Democrat (3/9):
Daily Texan (3/9): "Taco Bell boycott finally over"
Daily Bruin (3/9): "Taco Bell accord reached"
Nobel Peace Prize winner and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter: "I commend the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for their principled leadership in this very important campaign..." >> Read the full statement
Lucas Benitez, Coalition of Immokalee Workers: "Human rights are universal, and if we as farmworkers are to one day indeed enjoy equal rights, the same rights all other workers in this country are guaranteed, this agreement must only be a beginning..." >> Read the full statement
Tom Morello, Audioslave, formerly of Rage Against the Machine: "This is a major victory for the workers and demonstrates that by standing up and standing together, we can overturn any injustice. By standing up and standing together, we can change the world..." >> Read the full statement
Congressman John Lewis (D-GA): "This is a great victory for the champions of social justice and equality in America and around the world..." >> Read the full statement
Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), former presidental candidate: "So today we celebrate a tremendous victory of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the many farm workers who organized a very effective boycott of Taco Bell to draw attention to their plight. And it is an important start..." >> Read the full statement
Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): "I call upon all members... to immediately cease boycotting Taco Bell and to join with the CIW and Yum Brands in advancing the gains for human rights made today throughout fast-food industry..." >> Read the full statement
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Chairman of U.S. Bishops' Domestic Policy Committee: "This is a great achievement for the Immokalee Workers who have turned their struggle for decent wages and human dignity into a national movement enlisting religious groups and colleges and universities across the country..." >> Read the full statement
Todd Howland, Director, RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights: "Taco Bell has shown that companies can and should reach for a standard higher than their bottom line—that major corporations can be part of the solution to human right abuses instead of merely profiting off of the poverty of others..." >> Read the full statement
Cathy Albisa, Executive Director, National Social and Economic Rights Initiative: "It is a serious victory, but we must also be cognizant that it is but a stepping-stone in the longer journey to creating human rights protections for all workers..." >> Read the full statement
Gay McDougall, Executive Director, Global Rights: Partners for Justice: "This agreement proves the collective power of community members claiming their human rights and demanding accountability from those who have the duty to meet those rights..." >> Read the full statement
Camilo Perez-Bustillo, Director of Human Migration & Mobility / Project Voice, American Friends Service Committee: "The successful settlement of the Taco Bell boycott is a key, long-awaited step in the right direction for Florida and for the country as a whole, and will help set the pace elsewhere for farmworker justice in the future..." >> Read the full statement
On May 15, hundreds of allies and friends of the CIW from across South Florida came together to throw a victory party for the farmworkers in Immokalee to celebrate the recent historic victory in the Taco Bell boycott.
In the last days of the tomato picking season in Southwest Florida, farmworkers gathered to listen to messages of congratulations from faith-based, community, and student supporters from around the region and across the country, including Bishop John Nevins of the Diocese of Venice, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, National Farmworker Ministry, and many more.
As the CIW's agreement with Taco Bell represents a huge advance in the fight to eliminate slavery from the fast-food industry's supply chain, it was only fitting that the celebration be filled with music from Son del Centro (pictured here, right, performing at the celebration). Son del Centro, a group of Southern California youth dedicated to keeping their cultural roots alive in the perfomance of Son Jarocho, traditional music and dance derived from the struggle for freedom by enslaved people in Mexico, led the festivities until nightfall.
An excellent article covering the event appeared in the Ft Myers News Press. Read it by clicking here.
Click here to see how you can help spread this agreement to the rest of the fast-food industry.
NEW WAVE OF HIGH-PROFILE SUPPORT AS TRUTH TOUR NEARS DEPARTURE!...
As workers in Immokalee put the final touches on plans for the 2005 Truth Tour, unprecedented support for the Taco Bell boycott continues to roll in. Yet another wave of prominent artists have added their names to the growing roster demanding an end to sweatshops in the fields. This time, the list includes one of America's favorite and most versatile actors: Jeff Bridges, of such films as Seabiscuit, The Fisher King, and The Big Lebowski. And if that wasn't enough, Utah Phillips -- renowned storyteller and folk musician -- as well as acclaimed guitarist Muriel Anderson and popular indie rock band The Weakerthans have also formally joined the campaign!
Louisville, KY, the hometown of Yum Brands and site of the upcoming March 12th National Convergence for Farmworkers Justice, has also witnessed a recent explosion of support. In the last few weeks, the local labor community has joined its voice with faith, student, and community organizations throughout the city. The CIW applauds UFCW Local 227 Executive Board and the Jefferson County Teachers Association for endorsing the boycott and committing to join us outside Yum's headquarters on March 12th for a truly historic day!
here for all the latest logistics &
resources for the 2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour!
CHRISTIAN ALLIES TO FAST, PRAY FOR A JUST RESOLUTION OF TACO BELL BOYCOTT!
Last week, national and regional leaders of Christian churches called upon their members to fast and pray each Friday during Lent for a just resolution of the Taco Bell Boycott. The Christian season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and concludes six weeks later with the celebration of Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday.
"We pray that both Yum Brands and the (CIW) would find new energy to renew serious talks and work together for the just world God intends," explained the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The boycott has drawn the support of national religious bodies including the National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), American Friends Service Committee, Alliance of Baptists, Pax Christi USA and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. To read the press release, click here.
For resources on fasting and prayer from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), click here.
MOMENTUM BUILDING FOR MARCH 12th CONVERGENCE AT YUM BRANDS -- MARTIN SHEEN, KERRY KENNEDY TO SPEAK AT HISTORIC RALLY!
Actor and activist Martin Sheen -- star of TV's "The West Wing" as well as such landmark films as "Catch 22," "Gandhi," and "Apocalypse Now" -- will be joining farmworkers and allies on March 12th in Louisville, KY, outside of Yum Brands headquarters as a featured speaker in the culminating rally of what promises to be the biggest Taco Bell Truth Tour yet!
Joining Mr. Sheen on the program as a featured speaker will be Kerry Kennedy (r), Founder of the RFK Center for Human Rights, whose new book "Speaking Truth to Power" tells the stories of human rights defenders from across the globe.
The CIW is delighted to announce that Mr. Sheen and Ms. Kennedy will be joining us at this year's event for what is sure to be a very powerful day of action for a fairer, more humane fast-food industry!
NEW ARTICLE SLAMS YUM BRANDS, YUM CEO DAVID NOVAK!
A hard-hitting new article published on the progressive media website gadflyer.com takes a provocative new look at Yum Brands and its CEO David Novak. The article, entitled "Leading Like Jesus," discusses Yum Brands' recent decision to pull its advertising from the popular, but racy, new TV show "Desperate Housewives," a decision prompted by a threatened boycott by the American Decency Association (the ADA is "a Christian organization whose positions on the nature of morality emanate from a biblical worldview," according to its literature).
The article, by Sarah Posner, contrasts Yum's willingness to make this significant business concession to the ADA -- which the author attributes to strong conservative religious influences within Yum, including CEO David Novak, who is also a speaker for the motivational business seminar series "Lead Like Jesus" -- to the fast-food giant's stubborn refusal to deal with the CIW on the issue of serious human rights abuses in its supply chain. The contradiction begs the question whether the exploitation of labor is not considered a moral issue at least on par with television indecency by the leaders of Yum Brands... READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE!
Former President Jimmy Carter weighs in on Yum's "proposed solution" to the boycott...
Nobel Peace Prize winner and former US President Jimmy Carter, writing from the Carter Center in Atlanta, added his voice to the growing chorus of organizations and individuals calling on Yum Brands to take meaningful steps to improve wages and working conditions in its tomato suppliers' operations The following is the full text of the former President's statement:
"I have followed with concern for a number of years the appalling working conditions in the Florida-based tomato industry. While production costs in the industry have increased over the last 25 years, wages have been effectively stagnant, as giant cooperative buying mechanisms hold prices down. Conditions are so bad in parts of the industry that there have been two separate prosecutions for slavery in recent years.
In recent years, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has been publicly campaigning to bring attention to these abuses of human rights and for industry-wide change. In particular, CIW has led a campaign to ask Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum! Brand, Inc., the world's largest restaurant company, to accept responsibility for ensuring that its profits are not derived from abuses of workers in its supply chain.
Recently, Yum! and CIW have been in private talks, convened by the Presbyterian Church (USA), to try to identify tangible ways to resolve the problems in the tomato industry. Regrettably, the latest round, which included talks held at The Carter Center, was not successful. On May 20, Taco Bell issued a statement that Yum! CEO David Novak has called a "proposed solution." Mr. Novak's proposal involves, first, the CIW calling off its boycott, and second, a statement that Taco Bell would be willing to work toward an industry-wide solution to pay and conditions. While Yum's belated acknowledgement of the need for improved pay and conditions is welcome, this cannot be considered a serious proposal. Yum! is saying that only if the CIW ends its boycott will it be willing to support efforts to improve wages, and only if the rest of the industry does. This is a lost opportunity for the head of the world's largest restaurant company to take the lead in eliminating human rights abuses that he knows exist within his supply chain."
The CIW thanks President Carter for his continued interest in our campaign.
Taco Bell boycott continues following Yum CEO's public relations gambit...
Thursday, May 20th, started
out as a fairly typical day in the Taco
Bell boycott. Workers from Immokalee traveled
to Louisville, KY, for an animated protest
at Yum Brands' annual shareholder meeting,
building again the "Pyramid of Poverty"
(left, 125 tomato picking buckets, representing
the 2 tons of tomatoes workers must pick
to earn minimum wage for a 10 hour day)
as the centerpiece of a protest full of
eye-catching banners and a jubilant spirit.
Across the country, over 1,600 people fasted in solidarity with the workers' protest (right, fasting students at UCLA pass out flyers to fellow students, read article, "Protesters boycott Taco Bell with fast").
Then suddenly, things took an interesting turn. Inside an otherwise formulaic and oddly uncompelling shareholders meeting, Yum Brands CEO David Novak made an unexpected announcement. "We're ready to end this boycott, if you are," he told Lucas Benitez of the CIW, along with the shareholders and the gathered press.
Sadly... it turns out that the "offer" (which Yum spent considerable energy publicizing following Thursday's annual meeting, leaving little doubt as to the real purpose behind the move...) was not so interesting, nor so sincere, after all. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
In short, Yum's CEO offered to work with the CIW toward an industry-wide surcharge of 1 penny per pound to be paid by all buyers of Florida tomatoes, and second, to help lobby Florida's legislature for better working conditions. In return, he demanded that the CIW end the Taco Bell boycott immediately (i.e., in exchange for Yum's willingness to work together, not for the actual achievement of any real change). For those of you who like to cut to the chase, here is the CIW's formal answer to Yum's "offer":
"At the shareholders' meeting, we asked David Novak to enter personally into meaningful talks to address farmworkers' sub-poverty wages and sweatshop working conditions and to resolve the boycott. Apparently he prefers to negotiate through the press. So here's our answer: As it stands right now, your offer is little more than a transparent public relations ploy -- empty promises with no real commitment to change. When you're ready to talk about real change for real people, we are ready, too.
It took your company three full years to finally acknowledge what the CIW has been saying all along: that farmworkers are indeed a part of your business, and that the workers who pick your tomatoes are indeed in need of real change in their wages and working conditions. But simply acknowledging what so many have said for so long is not enough. Your offer does nothing to actually improve those conditions and leaves farmworkers as poor as they've ever been, with nothing more than a vague hope for change. The boycott will only end when Yum is committed to taking concrete measures to improve labor conditions for tomato harvesters in its supply chain."
For other reactions from across the nation, click on the following links:
Statement from Former U.S. President Jimmy
* Presbyterian Church USA's reaction to Yum's offer by clicking here
* Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights statement by clicking here
* letter from the United Church of Christ to David Novak, Yum CEO
this case, the old adage rings true: Yum,
it's time for you to put your money
where your mouth is. Don't just talk
about a penny surcharge, pay the penny more
to your Florida based tomato suppliers so
that they can give farmworkers a long overdue
raise in the picking piece rate. You can
afford it. And don't just talk about labor
reforms, reform labor abuses in your own
supply chain. You have the power.
Until then -- until Yum actually commits a fraction of its considerable resources as the largest restaurant company in the world toward making these hollow promises real -- the boycott continues!
TACO BELL BOYCOTT!
In a powerfully-worded letter to Yum Brands board member James Dimon (CEO of Bank One Corp.), AFL-CIO President John Sweeney wrote, "For my part, I will be urging my constituents, the 13 million members of the AFL-CIO and their families, to boycott Taco Bell products until this issue is resolved." President Sweeney's letter was written to request intervention by Mr. Dimon in favor of the Immokalee workers' demands.
Click here to see the full text of
President Sweeney's letter to Yum Brands board
member James Dimon!
THE HONORABLE MARY ROBINSON, FORMER UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER ON HUMAN RIGHTS, VISITS IMMOKALEE IN SOLIDARITY WITH CIW!
Ms. Robinson (shown in the photo on the right touring Immokalee migrant labor camps with CIW member Lucas Benitez) met with CIW members, took a walking tour of Immokalee, and spoke at a press conference (below, left), where she was joined by several CIW members, President of the National Council of Churches Bishop Thomas Hoyt, Rev. Noelle Damico representing the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and Oxfam America President Raymond C. Offenheiser.
At the press conference, Ms. Robinson was refreshingly forthright in conveying her perspective on the CIW's struggle, saying:
"My message to Yum Brands is: you can't pass the buck. You are profiting by exploitation and you have the power to change what is happening in the fields. So, pay this penny a pound more for workers rights, and assume your fair share of responsibility."
Press turnout for the conference was great. Click on the links below for stories on the day's events from the:
2004 TACO BELL TRUTH TOUR A HUGE SUCCESS!
Check out all the Daily Reports from the Tour (including photos and first-hand reports from the massive rally on March 5th outside Taco Bell headquarters, the 44-mile march from East LA to Irvine, and the 8-mile march on Yum Brands headquarters in Louisville, KY), links to press reports from Kentucky to California, video shorts from the Tour, and reports from solidarity actions across the country! Click here to go to the Tour update page!
And for a special audio highlight from the tour, check out the latest remix of last year's hit Hunger Days: Endless Pangs - The Hunger Days Remix