NEWS FROM THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF THE TACO BELL BOYCOTT

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IMMIGRANT FREEDOM RIDE HITS IMMOKALEE – 9/03!

IMMIGRANT WORKERS FREEDOM RIDE STOPS IN IMMOKALEE!…

On Saturday, September 27, over 400 farmworkers, students, local churches, and peace activists from Immokalee, Ft. Myers, and Naples and the Immigrant Workers Freedom Riders from Miami joined together in a spirited march and rally for immigrants’ rights.

Despite the on-again off again downpour (and a visit from the Southwest Florida chapter of the KKK!…), the CIW and friends enjoyed the music of JG and Havikenhayes of Over the Counter Intelligence and speeches by members of the comunity and the freedom riders. Saturday’s activities wrapped up with a recording of the inspirational words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “Keep this movement rolling, keep this movement going. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means keep moving.”

CIW TESTIFIES IN CONGRESS AGAINST FTAA – 6/03!


“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment… Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity… Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests…” Article 23, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On June 12, 2003 the CIW joined Food First, small farmers and other low-wage workers to tell Congress that free trade does not protect our human rights.

Clips from the webcast are posted at www.foodfirst.org. The CIW’s testimony will be posted soon.

Members of Congress’ Progressive Caucus including Dennis Kucunich, D-OH, John Conyers, D-MI, and Lynne Woolsey were in attendance to hear testimony about how:

* Free trade has eliminated 3 million U.S. jobs.
* Seventy-one percent of U.S. industrial employers threaten to close factories and move if workers form a union.
*U.S. family farmers face extinction.
*Displaced family farmers from Mexico and Central America migrate to the United States only to find themselves in sweatshop conditions and in the most extreme cases slavery.

CIW PROTEST AT YUM BRANDS SHAREHOLDER MEETING – 5/03!


WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON IN THIS PHOTO FROM YUM’s ANNUAL SHAREHOLDERS MEETING?… Here’s a hint: Check out the excerpt from the CIW’s press release for the action, below:

Lucas Benitez of the CIW says, “We have investigated (slavery) cases where people have been pistol-whipped, held at gunpoint, beaten, and told they would have their tongues cut out if they talked to the authorities. Of course, that’s the extreme of exploitation in the fields, but sweatshop conditions — sub-poverty wages, no right to organize, no right to overtime pay, no health insurance, no benefits at all — are our everyday reality. And yet Taco Bell treats us as if we had nothing whatsoever to do with their industry. We have asked Taco Bell if they can guarantee to their customers that the tomatoes in their tacos were not picked by slave labor, and they have responded with silence.”

“Taco Bell has a policy that it will not buy food from contractors that mistreat animals,” continued Benitez. “All we are asking is that they have the same policy for humans…”

That’s right — It’s the CIW protest at YUM Brands annual shareholder meeting in Louiville, KY, where workers and allies were calling on Taco Bell’s parent company to recognize its responsibility for human rights in its supply chain, as it has in regards to animal rights!

Click here to see all the CIW photos and a report from the action

MORE GREAT ACTIONS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY – 5/03!

IT WAS LABOR DAY IN MIAMI… which could only mean it’s time for a Taco Bell protest (photo, R)! In an exciting — and extremely creative — Mayday rally in Miami, dozens of people turned out for a rush-hour action at a downtown Taco Bell in support of the boycott. Click here to see a gallery of shots from the protest.



ALSO… “Worker exposes reality of labor exploitation”
Middle Tennessee State University Online News.
“As part of their ongoing action against Taco Bell, Solidarity hosted a presentation on slavery and inhumanity in corporate farming yesterday, featuring a migrant farm worker from Immokalee, Fla…” Click here to read more of this great article

ALSO… Report from Tucson Boycott committee:

“More than 40 protesters joined together for the Tucson action for Farmworker Awareness Week on April 4, 2003.  Members of Derechos Humanos, various MEChA chapters, Jobs with Justice, Tucson Veterans for Peace, Women in Black, and various student, union, and activist participants showed up for free tacos and horchata…” Read more about the action in this article from the University of Arizona’s “Daily Wildcat” by clicking here!

3,000 PROTEST OUTSIDE WASHINGTON, DC TACO BELL- 4/03!

Over 3,000 people crowded into the street in front of the 14th & U Taco Bell in Washington on Sunday, April 13, 2003 (the crowd bends left around the corner at the upper right of the picture…). The first stop in the Latin American Soldarity Coalition “March of Shame” through downtown DC rocked in protest over the sweatshop conditions in Florida’s fields, aided by another powerful perfomance of the boycott anthem “Hunger Days” by JG & HavikenHayes of Over the Counter Intelligence.

A contingent of 34 CIW members who made the trek from Florida to lead the Taco Bell stop on the march took up their position in front of the restaurant, with a mountain of press recording the action.

Click here for more photos from an unforgettable weekend!
And click here to download “Hunger Days”

GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY BANNER DROPS – 4/03!

Banners are dropping all over Grand Valley State University (Michigan)!


A lesson before dining?


Students at Grand Valley State University in Michigan organized four separate banner drops last week, just warming up for the labor solidarity actions this week (3/31-4/4) that are taking place on campuses across the country.


The GVSU students say they’ll be tabling and organizing a Taco Bell action this week…


… as well as meeting with administration officials to discuss just how GVSU can justify doing business with Taco Bell while Taco Bell insists on turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in its suppliers’ operations. With energy and commitment like what we see in these photos, there’s little doubt about the answer to the question posed in this banner!

 

“A MODERN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD…”


“A MODERN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD…”
That’s how the Sunday, Dec. 1, 2002, edition of the St. Petersburg Times characterized CIW anti-slavery efforts in a great, front-page story by Candace Rondeaux. You can find that story (and some beautiful photos, like the one outside CIW headquarters on the right) by clicking here.

Also in Sunday’s edition, opinion columnist Bill Maxwell penned a powerful challenge to Florida’s Governor Bush and consumers in general to use their influence to finally end peonage in Florida’s fields. He writes: “If the governor and other state officials did their job, many citrus and tomato moguls would be jailed and fined for perpetuating a system that lets subcontrators abuse workers.” See the rest of the Bill Maxwell column here.

And click here to read our own CIW rant on the sixth case of slavery in South Florida in the past five years. An excerpt: “Only by making those who profit most from farmworkers’ exploited labor pay the true cost of harvesting this country’s crops will we be able, once and for all, to close the book on America’s ‘Harvest of Shame’….

CIW CHRISTMAS PARTY 2002!

CIW CHRISTMAS PARTY LIGHTS UP IMMOKALEE!… Over 1,500 people attended the CIW’s pre-Christmas party, enjoying music, games, and some serious business, as CIW members continued to sign cards to be delivered to Taco Bell’s headquarters by the workers who will be fasting in Irvine this coming February. Already over 2,000 cards have been signed!

Click here for more photos and a report from a great party!

 

MASSIVE SLAVERY RING BROUGHT TO JUSTICE, NOVEMBER 2002!

LANDMARK VICTORY AGAINST HUGE MODERN-DAY SLAVERY OPERATION IN LAKE PLACID, FLORIDA!… After a two-year investigation by the CIW — in collaboration with the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice — the leaders of a violent and coercive slavery operation employing up to 600 farmworkers were found guilty in federal court of charges including: conspiracy to hold workers in involuntary servitude, extortion, and use of a firearm during a violent crime.

The three Central Florida citrus employers not only held orange pickers in slavery, but also pistol-whipped and held at gunpoint drivers for a van service who were attempting to give farmworkers rides out of town.

The men were sentenced in November, 2002, to a total of 34 years in jail and ordered to forfeit $3 million in assets obtained illegally through their operation. News of the verdict went out on the AP wire. See one of the articles, Conviction may help working conditions,” by clicking here.

The Lake Placid conviction was the sixth slavery operation in South Florida to be brought to justice in the past six years. For more history and analysis of the ongoing problem of modern day slavery in Florida’s fields, click on the links below:

St. Petersburg Times Op/Ed: ” If the governor and other state officials did their job, many citrus and tomato moguls would be jailed and fined for perpetuating a system that lets subcontractors abuse workers.” See the rest of the Bill Maxwell column here.

BBC World News radio report on Slavery (8 minutes on CIW anti-slavery campaign, starting at the 15:12 mark): “Trafficking for Labour” (programme three)

Labor Notes: Florida employers guilty of slavery” (or, click here for Spanish version)

SEND AN E-CARD TO HELP FIGHT SLAVERY!

Anti-slavery International of London, “the world’s oldest human rights organization,” is a partner with the CIW in an international effort to bring modern-day slavery operations to justice and to bring public attention to the continued existence of debt-bondage. They have launched an impressive “e-card” campaign focusing on four recent cases of modern-day slavery from Holland, Kuwait, Italy, and… one from right here in Immokalee, Florida.

Visit their website at stophumantraffic.org, or click here to see “Ricardo’s” story of forced labor in the tomato fields of Southwest Florida. While you’re there, please feel free to send one of their e-cards to a friend or family member to help spread word of this important campaign. All you have to do is click on “send an e-card” in the box in the upper right corner of Ricardo’s story, and the rest is easy!

NORTHEAST MINI-TOUR, OCTOBER, 2002!

Check out all the action — with daily reports, including photos, news, media links, and some GREAT videos — from this wildly successful tour. Travel with CIW members as they lead protests and teach-ins from Washington, DC, to Amherst, MA. Highlights include the “Breaking the Media Blackout” conference in Philly, a joint presentation with Eric Schlosser (author, “Fast Food Nation”) at U Penn, exciting actions in Washington, Philly, Boston and New York, and visits to some of this country’s most important historical landmarks. Don’t miss this great report!

Click here to go to the Northeast Mini-Tour Daily Updates page!

FAIR FOOD SUMMIT A SUCCESS!

“FAIR FOOD SUMMIT” A SUCCESS!… Students and young people from across the country – and even two from Canada – joined CIW members for a Thanksgiving, 2002, weekend of “Harvesting Justice in Immokalee”. The agenda included: working in the fields, meeting on campaign strategy, learning about CIW history, and, of course, squeezing in a lively local Taco Bell protest!

The summit was a great experience for workers and student allies, who have been taking the boycott to Taco Bell in their communities, especially through the recent victories in the “Boot the Bell” campaign, removing Taco Bells from college campuses. victories).Click here for more photos from the summit.

CIW LAUNCHES SIGNATURE CARD CAMPAIGN!

CIW LAUNCHES SIGNATURE CAMPAIGN IN IMMOKALE!… At a meeting before taking a new signature card campaign to the streets (left), CIW members see that nothing is impossible when we all work together.

Later, members went into the labor camps, churches, and streets of Immokalee to collect signatures on a card telling Taco Bell CEO Emil Brolick that, “Our poverty is the basis of your company’s wealth, and we are saying ‘Enough is enough’!” The card calls on Taco Bell to bring about three-part talks between growers, the CIW, and Taco Bell, as well as to help bring about an immediate raise by paying more for Florida tomatoes. Already, over 1,400 cards have been signed!

BOYCOTTERS TAKE GAME 5 OF WORLD SERIES, OCTOBER 2002!

BOYCOTTERS TAKE GAME 5 OF WORLD SERIES!… Protesters 1, Taco Bell 0 — If you watch baseball, you probably saw the Taco Bell target floating in the cove where homerun balls splash down outside the San Fancisco Giants’ stadium. Seems our favorite fast-food giant was trying to snag some free national TV airtime off the World Series (as if they didn’t have $220 million to spend on airtime already…). Well, you probably ALSO saw a little surprise visit by San Francisco boycotters during the Fox broadcast of Game Five, getting our own message out to 11 million viewers about how Taco Bell makes its money (the banner in the left upper corner reads: “Taco Bell Exploits Farmworkers – www.ciw-online.org”)! Kudos to the SF boycott committee for taking on Taco Bell’s little floaty free-advertising ploy.

FOUR SCARY DAYS OF ACTION!

REPORTS CONTINUE TO COME IN FROM FOUR DAYS OF ACTION, HALLOWEEN, 2002…

Reports have made their way in from Gainesville (FL), Portland, Tampa, Chicago, Norman (OK), Madison (WI), Austin, College Park (MD), Ft. Myers (FL), and more. Keep sending in photos and reports, and we’ll post ‘em!

Click here for more photos from the Halloween night action in Ft. Myers (LEFT)

Click here for a great DC Indymedia story on the University of Maryland action

NEW FREEDOM BUS TOUR HITS ST. PETE!

Nov. 26, 2002: The CIW joined the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, the Tampa Bay Action Group, and many other organizations fom across the country on the “New Freedom Bus Tour” for their St. Petersburg stop, where we combined a classic Taco Bell protest with a march through downtown St. Pete.

The bus tour and the march are a call for respect of our basic social and economic rights as defined in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, including the right to a living wage, the right to decent housing, and the right to organize on the job. You can learn more about the tour (including daily updates on their travels) and about the UN Declaration on Human Rights at the KWRU web site by clicking here.

Click here for more photos from the St. Petersburg action.

SUMMERTIME (2002) BOYCOTT ACTIONS SPREAD ACROSS THE COUNTRY

TACO PROTESTS KEEP POPPING UP ALL OVER!.. Protests like this one here (below) from the first week of August in Portland, Oregon, have continued non-stop over the summer. From Florida to California, allies across the country have kept the heat on Taco Bell all summer long! Click here for a quick review of some of the summer’s highlights.

P.S… You don’t necessarily have to protest to make your voice heard. This summer, 842 campers at Justice and Peace camps across the country sent postcards to Taco Bell in support of the strike — and took more cards home to share with their family and friends! That is some powerful support. As one 14-year old camper wrote in a personal note to Taco Bell CEO Emil Brolick: “I, personally, won’t return to Taco Bell until something has been done to benefit the Immokalee Workers. Oh big deal, right? One teenage girl from Ohio stops eating at Taco Bell, what does that mean to you?  It should mean a lot, because this ‘one teenage girl’ has many teenage friends, and a numerable amount of them refuse to eat at Taco Bell.” My goodness… no matter how cold your little CEO heart, that’s got to hurt. In the battle between corporations and the rest of us, that’s one camper we’re happy to have on our side!

CIW ACTION AT MAY, 2002, SHAREHOLDER MEETING, LOUISVILLE, KY

FACE OFF BETWEEN CIW AND YUM BRANDS AT ANNUAL SHAREHOLDERS MEETING: Click here for photos and report on the battle for fair food between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Tricon Global.


CIW Message to Shareholders: “Farm Worker Poverty = Fast Food Profits. You Can Change This Equation. Fair Food Now!”

Press coverage of the Kentucky action was good. Click here to read a great article in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS!… CIW STYLE

“ENTERTAINMENT NEWS”… CIW STYLE!... CIW members have been making the celebrity circuit this summer, 2002, in the never-ending effort to spread the word of the Taco Bell boycott and the struggle for fair labor conditions in Florida’s fields. CIW members met with actor Danny Glover in Miami (left) at a labor rights forum that brought union and community groups together from across South Florida, while the CIW delegation’s table (right) at the OzzFest stop in West Palm Beach drew a steady crowd of concert-goers looking for some social justice with their heavy metal.

The CIW was invited to table the concert by OzzFest headliner System of a Down, an LA-based band that, like Rage Against the Machine, isn’t afraid to mix politics and music.

PRESS CONFERENCE TO PROTEST PENDING LINK OF POLICE AND INS, APRIL 2002

CIW, a dozen Florida-based organizations hold press conference in Miami to announce opposition to Ashcroft initiative to link police, INS…

On Wednesday, 4/24/02, the CIW traveled to Miami to join nearly a dozen other organizations — including Florida ACLU, SEIU, the Miami Workers Center, and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center — to denounce the Attorney General’s proposal to convert state and local police into immigration agents. The press conference hammered home the clear message that the state of Florida is uniting — immigrants and citizens alike — in opposition to this potentially disastrous policy change.

To see the Miami Herald article from the press conference, click here.
To see the Nuevo Herald article, (Spanish), click here.

* Click on this link to see photos from the press conference and read the statement signed by the CIW and more than 100 other organizations across the country opposing the initiative (with up-to-date list of signatories).

CIW STATUE OF LIBERTY HEADS TO SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM, MARCH 2002

CIW”S LADY LIBERTY HEADS TO SMITHSONIAN IN WASHINGTON, DC… to be part of the permanent collection at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History!…

“‘It’s wonderful and it’s evocative. It’s a democratic movement for a political voice and it’s great because it reminds us of some of the core values we think of as Americans and the freedom to participate,’ said Barbara Clark Smith, museum curator of social history.” – Naples Daily News, 3/28/02 –

Click on the following link for the whole story: “Smithsonian to collect farmworkers’ version of Statue of Liberty”

NATIONAL THREE DAYS OF ACTION, DECEMBER 2001


THREE DAYS OF ACTION — A Roaring Success!


“Fire-eaters, and stilt-walkers, and giant Liberty puppets.. Oh my!”

This was the scene (above) at 2:00 am Sunday (12/2), outside of the Taco Bell on University Ave. in Gainesville, FL, where farmworkers from the CIW joined Univ. of FL students and local residents at an incredibly spirited, carnival-like protest wrapping up Gainesville’s Three Days of Action.


Click here
to see photos and reports from cities around the country from the Three Days of Action, including the CIW members’ own “24 Hours of Taco Bell Protests”. All in all, over 40 communities and campuses across the country – including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tampa, Knoxville, Austin, Boulder (CO), Northampton (MA), Milwaukee, Tallahassee, Norman (OK), and more — joined farmworkers from the CIW in protests to hold Taco Bell accountable for the sweatshop conditions in the fields where their tomatoes are grown and picked

MINI-TOUR, OCTOBER 2001

The Taco Bell “Mini-Tour”, a joint venture of the CIW and the Student/Farmworker Alliance, was a huge success, as CIW and SFA members crossed the country in just under three weeks, meeting with boycott committee leaders and the general public in cities along the route of the postponed Taco Bell Truth Tour.

The “mini-tourists”, shown here visiting the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN (the place of the fatal shooting of Dr. Martin Luther King and today the site of the National Civil Rights Museum) kept a photo diary of their experience, which you should not miss! Click here to see their day-by-day dispatches

PROTEST OVER SHERIFF’S INITIATIVE

More than 1,000 protesters call on Collier County Sheriff Don Hunter… to explain why he is asking state and federal officials for the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

The CIW strongly protested the Sheriff’s initiative,explaining that combining police and immigration enforcement would discourage immigrant crime victims from seeking police assistance and thereby effectively eliminate police protection in the immigrant community. CIW members also argued that such a change in police authority would result in a certain increase in racial profiling. Click here for the full story.

PHOTOS OF RECENT CIW ACTIVITIES, JANUARY 2002

If you liked the photos from the CIW New Years party, wait ’til you see these pictures from the CIW’s annual “Year of the Worker” block party:


Fernando Arau, sporting an attractive Boycott t-shirt and CIW cap,
entertains the crowd (Sunday, Jan. 20, 2002)

And click here for photos from the CIW New Year’s party in Immokalee (12/30/01)!

LETTERS TO TACO BELL

Taco Bell has been getting some pretty interesting letters of late… More and more, people of good faith are weighing in and letting Taco Bell know that they think it is time for the fast food giant to recognize the importance of the farmworkers’ contribution to their business success.

We have a few of the latest letters here on the site, including letters from Cardinal Roger Mahoney of the Los Angeles, Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange County, and one from the the CIW itself, delivered by the Irvine Boycott Committee on September 24th, the day that the Truth Tour would have culminated with a large scale protest outside of Taco Bell headquarters.

Stay tuned to the letters section, because there are many more to come — including one very important letter from some concerned investors that will usher in a new front in the boycott campaign.

Click here to see recent letters.

CIW AT SOA PROTEST, NOVEMBER 2001

CIW joins thousands at School of the Americas Protest Check out the photos from this year’s SOA protest, where CIW members added their voice to the call for a US foreign policy based on respect of human rights. Click here to go to the photo page.

As CIW member Max Perez said to the crowd following the annual procession to the Ft. Benning gates, “Our members are immigrant workers from Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti, countries where millions of people have been forced to escape political oppression at the hands of graduates of the SOA, only to find economic oppression in this country. We must fight oppression wherever it is, from the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to the fields of Immokalee, Florida.”


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TACO BELL SUPPLIER IN HOT WATER

Taco Bell supplier 6L’s is the subject of a court order requiring the company to respect its workers’ right to receive visitors while living in company-owned housing. Click here to see the emergency temporary injunction granted on May 16, 2002 by a Florida judge.