McDonald’s Truth Tour Reportback

 

5/27: CIW TALKS TO SHAREHOLDERS AT MCDONALD’S ANNUAL MEETING…

CIW members, allies, and Alliance for Fair Food members confronted McDonald’s Board of Directors and shareholders at their annual meeting in Oak Brook, IL on Thursday asking McDonald’s once again to put aside their PR campaign and to take up meaningful steps towards real change for the farmworkers in their supply chain.

Outside the corporation’s “Hamburger University” campus, a spirited group of protestors brought that message to the attention of the shareholders as they entered the meeting. As reported in the Chicago Tribune…”The company was challenged, outside by protesters and inside by activists, to join with a Florida farm worker group, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, just as Yum Brands Inc., which operates KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, did a year ago. Yum agreed to pay a penny more per pound for tomatoes it buys.”

For the full article,”Enough, Skinner says of Food Foes,” click here.

At the same time CIW and AFF representatives directly addressed McDonalds’ shareholders and board members inside the meeting. Coverage of these remarks also appeared in an AP Article posted on Forbes.com and in over 80 newspapers across the country:

“A farmworker and a human rights activist assailed the company at the meeting for running a public relations campaign instead of addressing what they called a human rights crisis in the tomato fields of Florida.

‘The workers who pick the tomatoes that go on McDonald’s sandwiches and salads work under conditions that can only be described as sweatshops _ poverty wages, no overtime pay, no right to organize and no benefits,’ said Lucas Benitez, co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in southwest Florida.”

Click here
to read the entire AP article.

The Campaigners for Fair Food also kept up the criticism of McDonald’s failed study on farmworker wages. For all of the latest on the study, click here.

 


5/25: UPDATES… CHORUS OF VOICES SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN FOR FAIR FOOD CONTINUES TO GROW…CIW TO ATTEND MCD’S SHAREHOLDER MEETING

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), America’s largest communications and media union, representing over 700,000 men and women, has joined the growing list of organizations endorsing the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF).

Also joining the AFF are the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and the International Labor Rights Fund. For a more information on the Alliance for Fair Food and a full list of the endorsers, click here.

Also, here’s an excerpt from a report from AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney on his recent trip to Immokalee, “America’s Values Left Behind”:

“But the workers are far from hopeless. Last year, following a national boycott, the coalition won a David-and-Goliath victory when Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and other fast-food giants, agreed to wage increases and a code of conduct for farm workers.

The Mexican, Guatemalan and Haitian workers of the Immokalee tomato fields know they are not fighting alone. They have the committed support of clergy and congregations and of the union movement. “

To see the full story and to find out how to participate in the email action already sent by over 20,000 union members and other supporters from across the country, click here.

The latest AP report, “A Big McMess”, on the campaign for Fair Food at McDonald’s has made the rounds in newspapers from Ohio to the Netherlands and back. Of its many titles this was our favorite, “Their sweat, your burgers” (Kudos to the headline writer who hit the nail on the head.) Read the full article here.

Also hitting the nail on the head, PR Watch’s Spin of the Day for May 19th. In a piece entitled “‘Independent’ Labor Report on McDonald’s Puréed in Tomatoland” these debunkers of corporate spin asked the question “When does an independent advocacy group’s work turn into corporate PR?” Apparently the recently released study on farmworker wages commissioned by McDonald’s gives a great example. See the full PR Watch report here (scroll down to the May 19th posts). For more on the study and its critique, click here.

And finally, McDonald’s holds its annual shareholder meeting on 5/25 in Oak Brook, IL. Representatives of the CIW and AFF will be attending in hopes of speaking with McDonald’s shareholders and board about the human rights crisis in Florida’s tomato fields and the urgent need for McDonald’s to head down the path to authentic corporate responsibility by bringing about real labor reforms in their supply chain. Check back here in the coming days for a report on the meeting.


5/11: ALLIANCE FOR FAIR FOOD (AFF) BLASTS McD’S USE OF “CLEARLY ILL-CONCEIVED AND POORLY EXECUTED STUDY FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS PURPOSES,” DEMANDS McD’s WORK “AS GENUINE PARTNERS OF CIW”… The founding members of the AFF, along with several key member organizations, have joined former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, six leading student organizations, and over thirty labor and social research experts nationally in strongly denouncing the McDonald’s study on farmworker wages, demanding that McDonald’s abandon its public relations strategy and work with the CIW to address the human rights crisis in Florida’s fields (scroll down this page to find all the opinions on the McD’s study). Here’s an excerpt from the AFF statement:

“By not acknowledging the need for farmworkers to participate with McDonald’s and its suppliers in crafting solutions to the exploitation farmworkers face, and even denying such exploitation exists through its discussion of wage rates, housing, purchasing power, and McDonald’s current certification process and code of conduct, this commissioned tomato study dangerously reaffirms the immoral inequities in power between grower and farmworkers that have been the root cause of farmworker exploitation…

It is our sincere hope that McDonald’s will look upon this obviously flawed and failed tomato study as an opportunity to reevaluate its approach and change course, instead working as genuine partners with the CIW, the farmworker organization that is a proven, respected force for human rights and voice for the farmworkers whose undervalued labor provides millions of pounds of tomatoes for McDonald’s salads and sandwiches.” READ FULL STATEMENT HERE

Signatories to the AFF statement include: The Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Rev. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries; Cathy Albisa, Executive Director National Economic and Social Rights Initiative; Kim Bobo, Executive Director Interfaith Worker Justice; and Todd Howland, Director Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.


5/3: FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR ROBERT REICH, FORMER NLRB CHAIRMAN WILLIAM GOULD, AND HARVARD LABOR LAW PROFESSOR PAUL WEILER TELL McD’s TO “NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH WITH CIW”!… A blistering letter signed by three former top labor officials rejects McD’s recently released “study” on farmworker wages as “patently aimed at preempting a fair process of engagement with CIW,” and says McD’s should:

“… negotiate in good faith with CIW, should agree on a fair code of conduct that reflects workers’ own priorities, should take direct financial responsibility for improved wages and benefits rather than passing the buck to McDonalds’ growers, and should ensure that farmworkers are able to participate fully in monitoring and enforcing the code of conduct.” READ FULL LETTER

The letter concludes, “There is no question that McDonalds has the resources and clout to do these things.  It lacks only the will.” Read the full letter here. To see why labor experts across the country have roundly dismissed the McD’s “study,” click here.

5/9: UPDATE!… UPDATE!… McD’s MARKETING “SWEET SPOT” SOUR ON STUDY, TOO!… Six national student organizations — Student/Farmworker Alliance, United Students Against Sweatshops, Student Labor Action Project, National Latino/a Law Student Association, United States Student Association, and the Living Wage Action Coalition — representing the 18-24 yr. old market demographic McD’s has called its “Sweet Spot” have denounced the McD’s study in the strongest possible terms. Here’s an excerpt:

“Simply put, this study is a joke, but the punchline is muted by the reality of grinding poverty for thousands of farmworkers.” Read the whole student statement here!


5/2: 2,800 TAKE TO THE STREETS OF IMMOKALEE FOR MAY DAY MARCH FOR IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS!… Joining over one million marchers across the country for a national action to demonstrate the importance of their labor to our nation, nearly 3,000 marchers, led by the CIW, brought the voice of Immokalee’s workers into the national debate over immigration.Click here to check out the pictures and a report from the Immokalee march.

Also, see the 5/2/06 Naples Daily News story on the march, “Heard on day of protest: About 2,800 immigrants, their supporters, join in Immokalee march”.


4/28: THE REVIEWS ARE IN: LABOR EXPERTS ROUNDLY REJECT McDONALD’S “STUDY” ON FARMWORKER WAGES… Last week, McDonald’s released the results of its long-anticipated study of tomato pickers’ wages in its Florida suppliers’ operations. The study came up with some pretty remarkable results (according to the report, for example, tomato pickers earn upwards to $18.27/hr and average around $14/hour…) and employed some intriguing methodology to arrive at findings which, though only preliminary, provided the basis for a number of quite far-reaching conclusions. In fact, based on a look at records provided by just one of McDonald’s many suppliers, the study’s author concluded that it is indeed time for the CIW to end its campaign against McDonald’s.

Well, some of this country’s leading labor experts have had a chance to review the study, and the reviews are in — the critics aren’t liking what they see:

  • “So riddled with errors both large and small that it cannot be accepted as factually accurate on virtually any measure”
  • “Almost nowhere are ordinary norms of social science research followed”
  • “The report should have no credibility whatsoever”

Those are just a few excerpts from a critical analysis of the McDonald’s study — produced by Dr. Bruce Nissen, Director of the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University — that holds the report up to fundamental research standards and finds it sorely lacking. You can find Dr. Nissen’s analysis in its entirety by clicking here. Dr. Nissen’s analysis is supported by thirty scholars from the fields of labor law, labor relations, and social research, including a former General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board and the Dean of the University of Maine Law School, who write:

“… We affirm the conclusions in Professor Bruce Nissen’s response to the recent report, commissioned by McDonalds, on Florida farmworkers’ working conditions. We agree that the McDonalds report does not meet accepted standards of research, and its findings and conclusions should not be taken seriously.”

But perhaps the most concise review comes from Dr. Fred Seidl, Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus, University at Buffalo (SUNY):

“I was horrified by the lack of methodological sophistication, low level statistical competence, and simple computational errors. The analysis of qualitative findings ignored anything resembling standard social science procedures. Much of the report is simply the listing of unsupported opinions. It seems clear who paid for the study. I am a social scientist, first and foremost, and there is no way this would have survived a Master’s degree defense. The result is misinformation, and no policy decision should rest in any part on this study.”

We will have much more in the days to come about what labor experts across the country are calling a terribly flawed and failed study, but for now, be sure to read Dr. Nissen’s report.

One word on all this from the CIW… Though it is, we will admit, mightily tempting to take a few shots of our own at such an easy target — especially given the central role the pending study has played in McDonald’s public discourse for so long — we will let the scholars’ opinion of the study stand for our own and leave it at that.

We will say this, however: It is never good practice to develop policy in an echo chamber, where no genuinely independent dissent is brooked. This study is a product of just such an environment, its fantastic results credible only to true believers in the justice of the present farm labor system.

We can only hope that the unequivocal rejection of this study leads McDonald’s executives to realize that perhaps it is time to expand their circle beyond their suppliers and seek to work with those who represent the other indispensable element in the food industry — farmworkers — even when those representatives aren’t telling them everything they or their suppliers want to hear. When McDonald’s is ready, at long last, to work with us, we will be ready to work with them for truly fair wages and working conditions in their tomato supply chain.


Mrs. Ethel Kennedy, second from left, and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, far right, tour an Immokalee labor camp with Lucas Benitez of the CIW and Melody Gonzalez of the Student/Farmworker Alliance. Click here for more pictures from the event.

4/24: ETHEL KENNEDY, AFL-CIO PRESIDENT JOHN SWEENEY TOUR IMMOKALEE ON FIRST STOP OF “RFK MEMORIAL POVERTY TOUR: A TOUR FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE”!… Click HERE to see pictures and a report from the exciting day-long event!

Click on the links below for all the press:


4/21: IMPORTANT NEW e-ACTION ALERT!…

TELL CHIPOTLE AND ITS “VERY RICH UNCLE” McDONALD’S TO WORK WITH THE CIW AND HELP END POVERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES NOW!… Click here to go to the e-Action Alert page now!… As many people learned for the first time during the 2006 Truth Tour, Chipotle, the national upscale burrito chain that has built its brand on the slogan “Food with Integrity,” is majority owned and controlled by McDonald’s. Or, as Chipotle CEO Steve Ells puts it, McDonald’s is “the very rich uncle every restaurant wishes it had behind it,” (from an article entitled “McDonald’s link helps Mexican chain forge ahead”).

Through a quick and easy e-action alert issued by the “Voice@Work” network of the AFL-CIO, now YOU can tell Chipotle and McDonald’s that “Food with Integrity” is not possible if the workers who pick that food are denied the basic dignity of a fair wage and fundamental human rights, like the right to overtime pay and freedom of association. Chipotle grew into a national chain as a brand with the image of humane treatment of animals and healthy meats and vegetables in its supply chain. They call that “Food with Integrity.”

Yet when the CIW tried to open a dialogue with Chipotle on how it could include the humane treatment of farmworkers to its definition of “integrity,” the restaurant company acted a lot more like its “rich uncle” than the hip, left-of-center, independent chain it purports to be. It responded with silence.

Please help Chipotle and McDonald’s understand that consumers today demand the fair treatment of labor in the food they consume. CLICK HERE to go to the e-action page, and let Chipotle and its rich uncle know that you stand with the CIW in calling for “Work with Dignity” now!



2006 McDonald’s Truth Tour a HUGE success!
Workers declare “aggressive public education campaign”
aimed at McD’s, Chipotle… See press release here!

Check out all the Tour pictures, reports, and media by clicking here!
Plus… Don’t miss these two great new videos:
      • “¿Quien Sigue?” (Who’s Next) – A video report by the Austin Indymedia crew
        from the electrifying Day Seven March on McDonald’s in Chicago
      • “Ronaldo the Clown” – A unique look at life and work in the fields of Immokalee
        produced by CIW members in response to McD’s study on farmworker poverty…

4/12: 75,000 MARCH IN FT. MYERS (left) FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS!! THE CIW WAS THERE – CHECK OUT THE PICTURES AND A REPORT FROM THIS HISTORIC EVENT! Click here for the pictures and report!

PLUS… CARDINAL FRANCIS EUGENE GEORGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO, URGES McDONALD’S TO “ENTER INTO AGREEMENTS” WITH CIW TO IMPROVE TOMATO PICKERS’ LIVES!... Writing, “As I am sure you are aware, the Coalition represents farm workers in south Florida whose skills and labor are integral to the agriculture that produces the foods used by McDonald’s restaurants. Many of these workers and their families live in conditions that are below or barely above poverty level, and a corporation like McDonald’s, with its vast impact on the domestic and international economy,possesses the ability to help them improve their lives,” Cardinal Francis Eugene George (right) urged McDonald’s to work with the CIW to address the sub-poverty wages and unacceptable working conditions in the fields where McDonald’s tomatoes are picked. Read the full text of Cardinal George’s letter by clicking here!

Plus… Bishop Joseph Imesch of the Diocese of Joliet, the home diocese of McDonald’s global headquarters in Oak Brook, IL, also wrote to McDonald’s, urging the fast-food giant to provide an “opportunity for the McDonald’s Corporation and the workers to come to a mutually satisfactory solution.” See Bishop Imesch’s letter here!


wellstone3/18: CIW WINS FREEDOM NETWORK’S PRESTIGIOUS “2006 WELLSTONE AWARD” FOR GROUNDBREAKING WORK AGAINST MODERN-DAY SLAVERY!… CHICAGO (3/16) – In a tremendously moving ceremony at the Freedom Network USA’s annual conference, the national network groupof organizations fighting slavery honored the CIW for its outstanding contributions to the movement.

The CIW was introduced by veteran federal prosecutor Lou de Baca (back row, far left) of the USDOJ Civil Rights Division, the conference keynote speaker and previous year’s winner of the Wellstone Award. Mr. de Baca spoke eloquently about the long relationship between the CIW and the Civil Rights Division, dating from the early 1990’s, and how those pioneering efforts helped lay the groundwork for the burgeoning anti-trafficking movement today.

CIW member Antonio Martinez (above, holding award), who escaped a coercive slavery operation in the tomato fields of Florida, accepted the honor. He was cheered on by a large group of CIW members and conference participants as he described his own path to freedom and his activism since that time in the fight against sweatshop conditions and modern-day slavery in the fields.


3/8: HISTORIC NEW ALLIANCE ANNOUNCED IN IMMOKALEE!

AFF
Lucas Benitez of the CIW serves as MC for the
announcement ceremony.

Click here for more great pictures from the event!

Declaring, “There is today a human rights crisis in Florida’s fields,” key CIW allies from across the country gathered with workers in Immokalee (right) to announce a powerful new alliance for, “fair wages and working conditions, fundamental human rights and an end to modern-day slavery in the agricultural industry.”

Founded by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), Student/Farmworker Alliance, and Interfaith Action, the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) has been endorsed by nationally and internationally respected organizations and individuals, including: Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), Amnesty International USA, United Students Against Sweatshops, the AFL-CIO, author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), NAACP Board Chairman Julian Bond, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Bonnie Raitt, SEIU, and Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

Click here to visit the Alliance for Fair Food website!
Read the AP Article on the event from the Miami Herald by clicking here.
Read the Presbyterian Church (USA) article on the AFF by clicking here.
Read the AFL-CIO blog report on the AFF by clicking here.


1/30: GROWING SCRUTINY OF GROWERS’ “SAFE” PROGRAM!… This past weekend, the Lakeland Ledger ran an intriguing article that provides further insight into the origins of the “SAFE” initiative, entitled “Growers Seeking SAFE Haven” (1/29/06):

“WASHINGTON — Jay Taylor recalls the seeds being sown last spring in a tomato packinghouse in Palmetto, where members of the restaurant industry and Florida agriculture met to discuss an escalating labor war.

That March, Taco Bell had agreed to pay tomato pickers in Florida an extra penny per pound and to demand new labor standards from growers after a threeyear boycott and a run of bad press. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the boycott organizer, had cast an unflattering spotlight on growers with a shame campaign against a big corporate customer.

Vegetable growers and other restaurant chains knew the Bell deal, the first of its kind, tolled for them.

Taylor said the message from restaurant representatives was clear: “You guys have got to do something about this issue.”

As the title and the opening paragraphs suggest, the name “SAFE” refers not so much to workers safe from exploitation and abuse, but growers seeking safety from further public criticism by this controversial new initiative. Read the full article by clicking here!


1/23: CIW RESPONDS TO McDONALD’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEW STANDARDS… This past week, McDonald’s and a group of Florida growers announced what they are calling “rigorous new practices” to supplement the previously announced (and roundly criticized) “SAFE” initiative. We have responded to that announcement, and you can see the full response by clicking here. Here below is an excerpt:

“None of what has been announced addresses the fact that farmworkers still desperately need immediate economic relief, a raise in wages so that they can meet their basic needs and live free of the degradation that has been the shame of Florida agriculture for so long…

… McDonald’s approach as announced deflects the entire burden — and cost – of social responsibility onto it suppliers. Yet McDonald’s bears at least some of the responsibility for farmworkers’ poverty. Why? Because through its high volume purchases, McDonald’s has been able to extract the lowest possible prices for tomatoes from its suppliers – and in so doing exert a downward pressure on farmworker wages – for decades.

In short, McDonald’s profits from farmworker poverty, and so needs to contribute to its alleviation. Yum Brands has now clearly recognized this and is today paying a fairer price for its tomatoes so that workers who pick those tomatoes can receive a fairer wage. No new strategy for social accountability will be complete until McDonald’s recognizes its own responsibility and contributes its share to help raise farmworkers’ unconscionably low wages, too.” READ MORE!

Plus, check out the latest story from Alternet!: “Beneath the Golden Arches”


12/18: McDONALD’S CAMPAIGN TAKES OFF!… Here’s the breakdown on all the news, analysis, allies, and action from the first few weeks of this fast developing campaign:

News

Analysis


>>
Nation’s Restaurant News 12/12, “Concern over McDonald’s policy grows”:

“The SAFE code is a result of ‘a growing realization that corporate social responsibility is beginnning to wind its way into farming,’ said Ray Gilmer, FFVA’s public affairs director.”

“Critics however, including national religious, student, and human rights organizations, questioned the credibility of a code of conduct developed by agriculture employers without input from the workers it claims to protect.’ READ MORE

>> Alternet 12/20, “McDonald’s versus the tomato pickers”:

“‘Everyone’s watching the agreement Yum has with the coalition, and it seems to be working well,’ Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association spokesperson Gilmer said. “But the concern is that down the road, if there are additional wages that will end up making Florida farms the higher-cost alternative, and they’ll be undercut by other states or Mexico, since most farms don’t have these agreements.’

But the Immokalee Workers point out that the Florida Tomato Committee, an industry group that works with the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, has already successfully promoted the application of industry-wide surcharges on all Florida tomatoes as a means to pass rising input costs on to their customers. In the past several years, surcharges have been added to recoup increased costs for everything from chemicals to fuel. This, they say, shows that small wage increases would not be detrimental to the Florida tomato industry.” READ MORE


Meanwhile, at the University of Texas, in an article entitled “McDonald’s boycott next?” by Jordan Buckley, the question is posed:

“Is McDonald’s more concerned with cleaning up human rights violations in the fields or their reputation in the market place? McDonald’s role in the creation of SAFE and its code of conduct – a document universally founded upon the principle of transparency – must be immediately clarified.” See the whole article here.

ALSO… Click on the links below for more coverage:

>> AP (12/1): “Churches call on McDonald’s to pay more to tomato pickers”

>> AP(11/21): “Farmworkers take on McDonald’s”

“What We Have Learned”… More questions have been raised than answered by McDonald’s response to the call by churches, human rights organizations, and countless consumers to clean up labor abuses in its tomato supply chain. We try to answer those questions in a recap and analysis of the dizzying developments from the past several weeks. Here’s an excerpt:

“According to the Palm Beach Post — in an article detailing the death of a bill to protect pesticide workers due, in part, to the FFVA’s opposition (“In capitol, reform hits stony ground”) — the FFVA is the state’s ‘largest pool of agricultural donors’ to the Florida legislature. The article goes on to say that, when the FFVA ‘recently held its annual convention at the Ritz-Carlton… the governor and the chairs of the House and Senate agricultural committees all made appearances.’… That same 2003 Palm Beach Post story reported that in her speech accepting the FFVA’s Lawmaker of the Year Award, State Senator Nancy Argenziano, Republican from Crystal River and Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, declared, ‘The essence of freedom is the limitation of government.’

The FFVA is one partner — the senior partner, by all indications — in the new farm labor accountability project known as “SAFE”, a project with the stated goal of raising the standards for how Florida growers manage their labor, and of strictly enforcing those new standards so that companies like McDonald’s can rest assured that those new, higher standards are being met.” READ MORE


ALSO… Does Florida Labor Scandal Point to McDonald’s Supplier? The top story in the Ft. Myers News Press for Friday December 9, reads:

“The Immokalee contractor who prosecutors called ‘brutal’ for beating migrant workers and extorting money from them to pay off smuggling debts, spent 33 months in prison for enslaving migrant farmworkers in 1999.

But today he’s back in business furnishing labor to farmers in Florida and New Jersey.And it’s perfectly legal. He can’t own a gun or vote, but the law says he can work as a labor contractor five years after his conviction.

‘It may be legal, but it ain’t right,’ said Doug Molloy, chief assistant U.S. Attorney in Ft. Myers who prosecuted Cuello and his brother Basilio Cuello in 1999.” [Click here for full story, “Former smuggler, slaver back in business — legally”]

The question begs to be asked: If Cuello’s back furnishing labor, who buys the tomatoes picked by Cuello’s crews?Learn more by clicking here.

AlliesAction Alert

NCC TELLS McD’S: “We at the National Council of Churches expect you to do better”!

With a powerful statement that begins: “Every so often there comes a moment that holds out the promise of making the world a significantly better place, if only we take action. Today the McDonald’s corporation is presented with one of those moments — an opportunity to help transform the agri-food industry in ways that are fairer and more just. The question is, Will it seize this moment or will it retreat and protect the status quo?,” the National Council of Churches has brought its considerable moral authority — and member faith groups representing 45 million people across the nation — to the growing chorus of national institutions strongly critical of McDonald’s’ efforts to side-step calls for meaningful labor reforms in its tomato supply chain.

The NCC is the latest of dozens of key allies in the successful Taco Bell Boycott to have taken a strong stand in response to McDonald’s’ refusal to recognize the principles established in the precedent-setting agreement with Yum Brands. The NCC statement concludes:

“Now is the time for McDonald’s to become a partner with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in transforming those aspects of the agricultural and fast food industries that have exploited farmworkers for corporate profit. As a corporation that benefits in the form of low-cost tomatoes from the current system, you have a pressing moral responsibility to act now… Choose today to help advance human rights by working with the farmworkers whose vision for justice is even now bearing its first fruits in the fields.” Read the full statement here

Read statements by more key allies by clicking on the links below:

>> Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

>> Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights

>> United Students Against Sweatshops

>> United Church of Christ

>> Unitarian Universalists

>> National Latina/o Law Students Association

>> Interfaith Worker Justice

>> Disciples of Christ

>> National Farm Worker Ministry

>> Bishop John Nevins, Diocese of Venice

>> Buddhist Peace Fellowship

>> National Economic and Social Rights Initiative

Contact McDonald’s today and demand they, too, pay a fair price for their tomatoes and work with the CIW to end human rights violations in the fields!

For months, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and allies across the country have called on McDonald’s to do the right thing: Follow Taco Bell’s lead and work with the CIW to establish fair wages and working conditions for the farmworkers who pick its tomatoes.

In March of this year, Taco Bell agreed to take responsibility for the abysmal conditions faced by farmworkers who pick its tomatoes. The agreement established a partnership between Yum Brands, Taco Bell’s parent company, and the CIW and set several important precedents for social responsibility in the fast-food industry. Among those precedents, Taco Bell agreed to pay a penny more per pound for the tomatoes it buys from Florida growers, an increase that could nearly double workers’ sub-poverty wages, and to establish the first-ever enforceable Code of Conduct for US agricultural suppliers.

Yet despite strong public support for the ground-breaking agreement, McDonald’s has steadfastly refused to follow Taco Bell’s lead on this simple path to justice.

Join the CIW in calling on the world’s largest restaurant chain to stop dragging its feet and to work with the CIW to improve the wages and working conditions for the men and women who pick its tomatoes.

Contact McDonald’s today and demand they, too, pay a fair price for their tomatoes and work with the CIW to end human rights violations in the fields!


MEDIA MOMENTUM BUILDS FOR FAIR FOOD: BOYCOTT VICTORY AND FUTURE OF THE FAIR FOOD CAMPAIGN FEATURED ON PBS, NPR AND THE NEW YORK TIMES! ORDER YOUR FREE COPY OF THE “NOW” DVD TODAY! The hot summer weather brought a storm of media attention to the Taco Bell boycott victory. From newspapers to public radio and television, the boycott victory and ongoing campaign for fair food in the fast food industry are continuing to make waves. For starters, the CIW and the story of the boycott victory were featured on a 15 minute piece that ran on the PBS news program “NOW with David Brancaccio”. From the NOW website, here’s the description of the program which originally aired on May 27:

“It’s the dirty little secret of our fast food nation: the people who pick the cheap fruits and vegetables we enjoy every day are among the worst paid and worst treated workers in America. So how did a small band of immigrant workers pressure the largest fast food company in the world to do something that could help transform these workers lives? NOW tells the remarkable David vs. Goliath story of a group of Florida tomato pickers that went toe to toe with a corporate giant and won. Overcoming a climate of fear and violence, these workers fought an incredible four-year battle against Taco Bell and its parent company, Yum! Brands, to improve their working conditions and wages. Their success may have sparked a movement that could have important consequences for the nation.”

You can order a free DVD copy of this excellent piece on the fight for farmworker justice by contacting us today! This DVD is a great tool for analyzing the historic victory and preparing for the next steps! Also, be sure to visit NOW’s website for an in-depth exploration of the boycott by clicking here.

As if that wasn’t enought, on June 16 and 17 the CIW was featured on NPR’s nationally broadcast “All Things Considered.” If you missed either part of this two-part series, you can still hear the piece and see background documents through NPR’s website by clicking here for day 1 and here for day 2.

To round out our summer media trifecta, you don’t want to miss the barrage of newspaper coverage on the victory and CIW’s next steps. The excitement even made it’s way to the Sunday New York Times (5/22)! Read the entire article: “First They Took on Taco Bell. Now, the Fast-Food World.” Here’s an excerpt:

“They led a four-year boycott against the chain until it agreed in March to pay a penny more per pound for Florida tomatoes and to adopt a code of conduct that would allow Taco Bell to sever ties to suppliers who commit abuses against farmworkers. With that triumph, the farmworkers group is turning to a larger target: the rest of the fast-food industry. The coalition has sent lettersto executives at McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King asking them to follow Taco Bell’s lead.”

The story went out on the AP Wire and was carried by major media from MSNBC to The Detroit News, spurring a couple of excellent opinion pieces that build on the AP article. From the business pages of the Motley Fool, see “The Price of Peace” here; and from the San AntonioExpress-News, “Taco Bell Serves Up Social Vigilance” here. And finally, there’s an excellent article which appeared in the Orlando Sentinel entitled, “Group Champions Migrants”. Read the full report and see photos of the CIW’s own watermelon harvesting crew by clicking here.


NEW OP-ED IN THE NEW YORK TIMES BY THE MAN WHO WROTE THE BOOK ON THE FAST-FOOD INDUSTRY!… Check out the great Op/Ed by “Fast Food Nation” author Eric Schlosser in the New York Times!  The piece strikes a very hopeful tone and ends on an intriguing note, concluding:

“McDonald’s seems an obvious target for the next boycott… The failure of government to protect the weakest and most impoverished workers in the United States has left the job to corporations and consumers.  Taco Bell deserves credit for acknowledging its responsibility on this issue.  Now McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Yum’s other brands need to do the same.”Click here to read the whole article!

Stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks on the next steps in the campaign to make fast food into fair food!


FARMWORKERS 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!The 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.

Press Statements
Washington Post (3/9):
“Accord with tomato pickers ends boycott of Taco Bell”

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):
“Farmworkers win wage increase in fight against Yum!”

Democracy Now! (3/10):
“Immokalee Tomato Pickers Win Campaign Against Taco Bell”

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):
“Workers agree to extra penny”

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