National Farm Worker Ministry Response: Statement following YUM Brands Shareholder Meeting

The National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM) has witnessed firsthand the abuses experienced by farm workers in Florida and nationwide for many years. Farm workers endure poverty-level wages and inhumane conditions to put the food on our tables. All of us who benefit from their labor – individual consumers, retailers, restaurants, and corporations – have a responsibility to help end that suffering. YUM Brands, a major player in the fast-food industry, has tried to disavow its responsibility for too long. It took a three-year boycott of YUM subsidiary Taco Bell, shareholder actions, public demonstrations, student hunger strikes, and media attention to bring YUM management to acknowledge that this is an issue of concern to their business. YUM has now expressed a willingness to work toward solutions on the condition that the (CIW) call off its boycott. But a “willingness to work toward solutions” is not the solution farm workers need. Given the great public pressure required to bring YUM even this far, CIW understandably has no confidence that YUM would actually implement any substantial changes in the absence of that pressure. It would be premature for CIW to call off the boycott until they have a legally enforceable commitment from YUM that ensures lasting improvements in the lives of the workers.

NFWM applauds CIW for its determination to bring justice to Florida’s tomato fields. We thank our member organizations and their millions of constituents nationwide for their support of CIW’s campaign. And we urge them to continue their support of the Taco Bell boycott until notified by CIW that tangible results of genuine value to Florida farm workers have been achieved and the boycott is no longer needed.

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