On Wednesday, November 2, at a gala awards ceremony in San Francisco, Gerardo Reyes of the CIW received the 2005 Business Ethics Network (BENNY) Award in the name of the farmworker community in Immokalee that spearheaded the successful Taco Bell Boycott. Here’s an excerpt from the BENNY Award press release:

“SAN FRANCISCO: Last evening, in a speech that brought the audience to tears and to its feet, Florida farm worker Gerardo Reyes Chávez accepted the top prize at the 2005 BENNY Awards on behalf of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

The BENNY Awards were announced by the international Business Ethics Network.

Chávez spoke of the long struggle of the Immokalee tomato pickers in Florida. “We were basically invisible in the paradise that is Florida,” he said.

After years of strikes and protests against tomato growers to increase wages, in 2001 the Coalition launched a boycott against fast-food giant Taco Bell, one of the largest purchasers of tomatoes in the U.S. In early 2005 Taco Bell made an unprecedented agreement to pay the first-ever direct, ongoing payment by a fast-food industry leader to workers in its supply chain to address sub-standard farm labor wages.

Over the past decade, corporate campaigns have become a more common tool for making change, particularly when legislative and political avenues are blocked. “It is through corporate campaigns, not the political system, that we are seeing the greatest achievements for workers, and in protection of the environment and public health,” said Mari Margil, spokeswoman for the Business Ethics Network…” read more from BENNY Award press release

As Gerardo added in his speech accepting the award, “The Taco Bell Boycott was a chapter now finished in a history that we continue to write today. There are many more chapters to come as we move forward with our Campaign for Fair Food!” The CIW extends its sincerest thanks to the Business Ethics Network and promises to make them proud of having chosen the Taco Bell Boycott for this prestigious award. CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES FROM THE BENNY AWARD CEREMONY!