"Como trabajadores y mujeres, tenemos que luchar por nuestros derechos y contra la violencia tanto en la labor como en la casa"
"As women and as workers, we have to fight for our rights and against violence both in the fields and in our own homes"
After 10 days on the road, several tanks of gas,
countless presentations, and lots (and lots...)
of espresso, the Tour crew finally rolled into
Boise, Idaho, late Sunday night, where students
and faculty have been organizing to buck Taco
Bell's logo off the BSU Bronco's basketball arena
(formerly known as The Pavilion).
The team's two days at BSU were
extremely eventful, and a powerful end to a hugely
successful tour. Here below are some of the collected
media links from the BSU visit:
fight with Taco Bell comes to BSU"
(Idaho Statesman, 10/26)
faculty says "no quiero" to Taco Bell"
(Idaho Statesman, 10/27)
Senate says no to Taco Bell" (The
The Honorable Mary Robinson warmed things up
for the Tour crew the week before with a lecture
on "Social Responsibility and Ethical Globalization."
According to students who were present, of the
hour-long speech, nearly 30 minutes were spent
talking about Taco Bell. She called on BSU to
return the money in a principled fashion, saying
that such an action would make national headlines
and put pressure on Taco Bell to clean up human
rights abuses in its supply chain:
UN Commissioner asks BSU to return $4 million"
While at BSU, the crew from Immokalee was fortunate
enough to be invited to several different classes
with topics ranging from sociology to anthropology
to political science. These visits provided a
great forum for more intimate discussion about
the nuts and bolts of the Taco Bell boycott...
... and as was our experience throughout the Northwest,
the CIW presentations were well-received, provoking
thoughtful dialogue with students genuinely interested
in the issues of farmworker exploitation and social
After a day in the classrooms, it was time for
the CIW and SFA delegation to meet with the
Organizacion de Estudiantes Lation-Americanos
(OELA), a student group that will surely prove
crucial in the campaign at Boise State. The
meeting with OELA was followed by similar sessions
with the Idaho Progressive Student Alliance
and other concerned students and community members.
Later, Lucas Benitez, CIW member and 2003 Robert
F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureate, addressed
the BSU Faculty Senate at their meeting, a meeting
packed with boycott allies from both the student
and faculty communities.
Lucas' speech ended with a standing ovation,
as the room literally buzzed with anticipation
of the vote to follow. After a lengthy discussion
of labor conditions in Taco Bell's supply chain,
the Faculty Senate voted 17-2 to voice their
opposition to the branding of the Taco Bell
Arena and call for the removal of all Taco Bell
logos from campus!
Immediately following the Faculty Senate meeting,
CIW member Gerardo Reyes Chavez addressed the
Associated Students of BSU, who will soon vote
on a similar resolution.
Finally, on Tuesday night, after two months of
solid organizing in Boise, nearly 200 people poured
into the BSU Special Events Center to learn about
the Taco Bell boycott firsthand from the workers
from Immokalee and their student allies...
... and speaking of student allies, Melody Gonzalez
of Notre Dame (left), a leader in that school's
boycott campaign, was an invaluable -- and indefatigable!
-- member of the NW Tour crew, sharing her experience
at Notre Dame with students across the Northwest,
translating for presentations by CIW members,
and contributing a much-welcomed spirit of solidarity
and struggle to the crew's grueling trip.
The audience at the Special Events Center was
glued to the crew's presentation...
... and BSU student leaders (Arielle Anderson
of Idaho Progressive Student Alliance, far right,
and Belle Antchekov of ASBSU, second from left)
joined CIW members on stage, letting the audience
know how they can get involved in the locally-led
campaign to un-brand the Taco Bell Arena.
After a two-hour presentation... another standing
Raise a fist! Gerardo pumped up the crowd, leading
some chants to bring the night to a close.
And again, after the presentation... the materials
table was a veritable a hurricane of activity.
One last meeting before wrapping up our visit
to BSU and the NW Tour... the Tour crew sat
down with ICAN (Idaho Community Action Network),
a group that at the forefront of the fight for
farmworker justice in Idaho, to discuss organizing
strategies and potential for future collaboration.
The visit to BSU was the perfect ending to
the perfect tour. Strong ties of solidarity
were established with students, community organizations,
religious communities, and unions across the
Northwest during a whirlwind two weeks, ties
that will surely serve to bolster the boycott
in this very important part of the country.
Days 9 & 10 of the Northwest Mini-Tour found
the CIW and their student allies visiting friends
in Woodburn and Hermiston, Oregon -- two rural
towns with large farmworker communities who
are engaged in their own formidable struggles
for economic justice, struggles that resonated
all too well with the workers from Immokalee.
These stops served as powerful reminders that
farmworkers face similar abuses -- and are oganizing
to eliminate such abuses -- in every corner
of the country. En route to Idaho on Day 10
(and in the aftermath of a stunningly beautiful
drive through the Columbia River Gorge), the
Tour crew stopped in Hermiston, where they were
warmly received with a spirited march and protest
outside of the local Taco Bell (pictured above).
But before stopping in Hermiston, we spent Day
9 in Woodburn with our close friends at PCUN (Pineros
y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste), who have been
ardent allies of the CIW and the Taco Bell boycott
since the very beginning. Founded in 1986, PCUN
is Oregon's union of farmworkers, nursery, and
reforestation workers and has grown into the state's
largest Latino organization. Currently, PCUN has
over 5,000 members (98% of which are Mexican and
Central American immigrants), and it encompasses
a wide vareity of community and workplace organizing
projects throughout the Williamette Valley, the
center of Oregon's agricultural industry.
While in Woodburn, we had a full day of activities
including some early-morning Get Out The Vote
canvassing with seasoned PCUN members as well
as a handfull of fired-up youth...
After a morning in the neighborhoods of Woodburn
and a tour of the surrounding countryside, the
Tour crew was treated to a delicious dinner at
PCUN's headquarters. Over enchildas and horchata,
a troupe of young PCUNistas performed a wonderful
piece of theater about the Taco Bell boycott,
capturing the complexity and significance of the
campaign in a way that left us all begging for
Their festive performance was a tough act to follow,
and the workers from Immokalee certainly had their
work cut out for them as they addressed the large
crowd assembled for the special occassion. Nonetheless,
the short presentation by CIW members did not
disappoint. The workers discussed Immokalee and
the Taco Bell boycott, relating it to the larger
struggle for farmworker justice in this country
and the work being done by organizations such
After dinner and discussion, it was high time
for a group photo in front of this brilliant mural
that graces the wall of PCUN's meeting hall. Our
trip through the Northwest has been crammed full
with inspiring artwork, but this colorful homage
to the heroes of the US farmworker movement was
easily the highlight.
After bidding farwell to our companeros at PCUN,
the Tour crew hit the road Sunday morning, winding
its way eastward along the Oregon-Washington border.
After crossing the Cascades mountain range, we
were reunited with our long-lost friends from
South Florida: blue skies and sunshine! And so
it was that on a beautiful and windy Day 10, the
Taco Bell boycott delegation stopped in the small
town of Hermiston, Oregon to link up with local
farmworkers and community allies for some serious
Continuing a proud tradition of this year's Northwest
tour, MEChA -- this time from Blue Mountain Community
College in Pendleton, Oregon -- had a strong and
vocal presence (as well as some great t-shirts!)
at the protest in Hermiston...
The stop in Hermiston also allowed the Tour crew
a great opportunity to connect with farmworkers
at a local dairy, Threemile Canyon Farms (a key
supplier to Precious Cheese), where workers are
engaged in a tough fight for union representation
with the United Farmworkers of America (UFW).
When it was all said and done, several dozen people
in this dusty rural community took to the streets
with the clear vision that another world is indeed
possible -- a world where farmworkers receive
the dignity and wages they truly deserve for hard
and dangerous work. The action left the crew from
Immokalee re-energized for the home stretch of
the tour as they piled back in the van and hurled
down Interstate 84 towards a climactic finale
at Boise State University, home of the infamous
Taco Bell Arena.
Check back soon for updates from Boise State,
where student and faculty momentum is building
by the day to reclaim their basketball arena
from the clutches of the Taco Bell marketing
department... Stay tuned!
Also, don't miss this front page story in the
10/26 Idaho Statesman, BSU's hometown paper:
Fight with Taco Bell comes to BSU"!
Days 7 and 8 of the Northwest Tour were full of
more education, strategizing, and action as the
crew from Immokalee continuned spreading the message
of the Taco Bell boycott across Oregon. Pictured
above is a lively protest outside a Taco Bell
in Corvallis on Friday afternoon. The protestors
were energized by the late-breaking news that
UCLA decided that afternoon to not renew its Taco
Bell contract following a long, hard-fought student
campaign!! UCLA is now the 20th campus across
the country to become a "Taco Bell-free zone."
Stay tuned for more details on this latest development
in the Student/Farmworker Alliance's national
Boot the Bell campaign. But back to Oregon...
Before moving on to Corvallis for Day 8, the Tour
crew had another long day of meetings and presenations
lined up for Portland. The main focus of the day
revolved around Portland State University, where
students are organizing to boot yet another Taco
Bell restaraunt off yet another campus! Ironically,
Portland State's Taco Bell -- peddler of sweatshop
tacos -- is located right next to a fair trade
coffee shop, an irony that is certainly not lost
on these sharp students who are demanding this
very notion of "fair trade" be applied
to the fast-food industry and the fields which
supply its produce.
After a lunchtime flyering blitz, the Immokalee
delegation met with students from two great
organizations at Portland State: MEChA and Students
for Unity. During this meeting, workers from
Immokalee and PSU students dialogued about conditions
in the tomato fields. PSU students were also
able to talk with members of Student/Farmworker
Alliance -- including Melody Gonzalez of Notre
Dame -- about some of the past successes of
the Boot the Bell campaign, drawing on experiences
that could prove useful for the effort at Portland
State. Shortly afterwards, we learned that yet
another student group at the university -- the
College Democrats -- had decided to endorse
the boycott! This was only further proof that
things are really heating up in Portland, thanks
in large part to the efforts of concerned young
people -- the very core of Taco Bell's target
Following the visit to Portland State, the Tour
crew were guests of honor at a fabulous potluck
dinner co-organized by the Portland Central
America Solidarity Committee (PCASC) and Oregon
Farmworker Ministry. Over dessert, the workers
from Immokalee shared their stories with members
of the Portland community, explaining the intricate
conections between farmworker poverty and fast-food
industry profits. The community members were
excited to learn about the recent developments
at Portland State and pledged to support the
campaign however they could. This type of campus-community
alliance has proven very effective in other
places, most notably at the University of Chicago;
it also has positive implications for a number
of other campaigns and issues. All in all, the
combination of good food and good friends was
a wonderful way to close our two days in Portland.
The next day found the Tour crew in the lovely
town of Corvallis, home of Oregon State University
and beautiful fall foliage. Here, the workers
and their student allies led a well-received presentation
to a great group of students, including -- guess
who? -- MEChA and our new friends at the United
Campus Ministry of Oregon State.
As usual, the materials table was a popular destination
following the discsussion as students loaded up
on buttons, stickers, flyers, and DVDs to help
spread the word about the movement for fair food.
After the opportunity for education and reflection...
... It was time for some action in front of a
local Taco Bell, where dozens of students and
community members gathered to add their voices
to the growing chorus demanding socially responsible
purchasing practices from the fast-food giant...
...Even the overcast skies and chilly weather
didn't deter the assembled supporters of the boycott
from getting their message across to the town
MEChA had a strong presence at the protest, which
couldn't help but remind the Tour crew of the
enormous 700+ person march on Taco Bell at last
spring's national MEChA conference in Corvallis.
Throughout our stay in the Northwest, MEChA groups
on nearly every campus we've visited have greeted
the Immokalee crew with open arms and a committement
to work together for fair food.
We ended Day 8 with a wonderful dinner at the
Centro Cultural de Cesar Chavez, where we got
to know our allies in a more informal setting
surrounded by gorgeous murals and other reminders
of past farmworkwer struggles. It was an honor
to gather in a space named after Chavez and
filled with the spirit of the UFW, one of the
earliest endorsers of the Taco Bell boycott
and a steadfast ally ever since. Another great
day in Oregon...
Before leaving Washington for Oregon, there was
one last thing left for us to do on the agenda.
There, off in the distance, was the thing we had
been hoping to see since we landed in Seattle
nearly a week ago (and it's not the sun and blue
skies, though they were indeed sorely missed by
this crew from sunny South Florida...). What might
it be? The answer to what we sought in our last
day in Washington is found at the end of today's
But once we finally did manage to tear ourselves
from Washington and reach Oregon, the Tour crew
split up in three groups and spread out around
the Portland area. One group headed to Salem,
where they met with our old friends and rock-solid
allies at LUS -- Latinos Unidos Siempre, a Latino
youth organization that grew out of a statewide
coalition against an anti-immigrant ballot initiative
and now works on issues including gang profiling,
education, and immigrant justice. LUS has been
an animated presence at every Truth Tour action
outside Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, CA
-- traveling almost the length of the West Coast
-- since 2001!
A second team joined students leaders at Portland
State University for a roundtable discussion on
the growing Boot the Bell campaign on campus.
Of course, MEChA is spearheading the campaign
at PSU, which promises to heat up just as campaigns
on campuses from UCLA to Boise State, UT Austin,
Grand Valley State, and more are really taking
The PSU students joined CIW and SFA members for
a group picture in front of an incredibly beautiful
mural depicting national and local struggles for
justice for Latino workers. Though the picture
didn't quite turn out as well as we might have
hoped... the mural was just too good to leave
out of today's report! We can only hope that the
Taco Bell boycott may one day be immortalized
in a corner of this mural for future generations
of PSU students to remember the roots of the fight
for fair food.
A third team from the Tour crew joined our friends
from the Juarez Caravan once again for a presentation,
this time at Portland's Musicians Union Local
99 hall. Ramona Morales of Juarez told of her
own bitter experience, suffering the loss of
her daughter at the hands of criminals who remain
free while they have continued to brutally kill
and disappear thousands of women -- many of
whom work in the US-owned sweatshops of Juarez
-- over the past several years. Mexican authorities
have turned a blind eye to the women's plight.
Francisca Cortez of the CIW expressed our solidarity
with the Juarez Caravan and, as she did in Seattle,
explained why workers in Immokalee feel that our
two struggles are really one -- one fight for
justice for communities uprooted by corporate-led
globalization and treated as disposable tools
by the companies and governments that plan and
profit from their displacement.
This sign from the Juarez presentation says
"Justice will be done!"
So... now that we have reached the end of the
day's report, just what was it we were seeking
before leaving the indescribably beautiful state
of Washington? Why, Mount St. Helens, of course,
in all of her steaming, churning, awesome splendor.
In her commanding shadow, the Tour crew turned
into humble tourists, all to eager to ask a passerby
to take our picture with the mountain as our backdrop.
Before leaving, we learned of the devastating
power of the volcano when it erupted last on
May 18th, 1980, from Pamela, a veritable encyclopedia
of volcano knowledge... and something of a force
of nature her own self. Here she stops one of
the Tour crew members from detonating the volcano
and setting off a terrible chain reaction of
destruction (why they put the detonator right
there at the information desk where anyone could
set if off is a good question for Park Service
administrators...). OK... the detonator's not
actually real... but Pamela's exuberance is,
as was her commitment to boycott Taco Bell after
learning of the conditions in Florida's tomato
Next up: Day Two in Portland
Day Five of the Northwest Tour was all about
Olympia, Washington, where the crew spent the
entire day talking to the people of Olympia,
either in the classrooms of Evergreen College...
... or in the town's streets -- and not just
any street, of course, but in particular the
street that runs in front of Taco Bell.
Be sure to check out the latest news from
the UCLA Boot the Bell campaign. Click on
the following two links to see some powerful
editorials from the UCLA "Daily Bruin":
Whether in the more intimate settings of a 25-person
... or in the more festive atmosphere of an auditorium
overflowing with 150 people...
.... the CIW's presentation of the truth behind
Yum Brands' billion-dollar marketing budget --
the sweatshop conditions and human misery that
fuel the fast-food giant's marketing machine --
and the Tour crew's analysis of how corporations
like Taco Bell, Nike, McDonald's, and Adidas use
those billions to pollute our minds with their
logos and all their latest jingles...
... gave hundreds of students throughout the
day a powerful new perspective on the food we
eat, the clothes we wear, and -- most importantly
-- the reason why the fight of farmworkers from
a forgotten town in Florida is their fight too.
The connection is clear: farmworker poverty
fuels fast-food profits, profits plowed into
marketing designed to enslave our minds and
render us all incapable of even thinking for
ourselves or imagining a world without their
But by the end of the day at Evergreen College,
people had not only freed their own minds from
the fast-food nightmare, but they couldn't get
enough postcards, flyers, and buttons to continue
spreading the word to their friends and families...
... leaving one overwhelmed Tour crew member calling
desperately for back-up on the tabling front!
And in the immortal words of the1970's funk legend
Parliament, "Free your mind, and your a..
will follow,"... Following the day of presentations
at Evergreen, it was into the streets, making
... and taking action at a local Taco Bell.
In a fine evening of protest and flyering at a
Taco Bell off campus, conversation replaced consumption,
as dozens of potential Taco Bell clients thought
twice about eating exploitation...
... and even those who had already bought themselves
some took time to thing before digging into their
Even workers who were let off early due to the
protest's impact on the restaurant's sales had
an opportunity to reflect on their employer's
practices. While they were not overly pleased
about losing a couple of hours that night, they
did stick around to talk. And given the fact that
their most spirited defense of the company was
"we'll never really end slavery in this country,
there'll always be people sick enough to hold
other people in slavery"... well, we figure
their loyalty to Taco Bell can't really run too
Between the presentations and the protest, we
shared a potluck dinner with area allies and
the members of Fato Criminal, a hip-hop group
from Brazil affiliated with our long-time friends
at the MST (Moviemiento Sem Terra, one of the
most powerful movements for social justice in
the world today). They were kind enough to do
an impromptu performance that we were lucky
enough to catch on video. It's not quite ready
yet, but we promise to get that video to you
on these pages soon. So check back, because
you don't want to miss it!
Next up: Portland!
In an intense day of reflection and action
that stretched the Northwest Tour crew to its
limits, Day Four saw the workers from Immokalee
and their student allies split up and take on
three universities, six presentations...
... and one Taco Bell, this time at the newest
school to join the mushrooming Boot the Bell
campaign, Central Washington University in Ellensburg,
Washington, two hours outside of Seattle!
But before we get to the very busy Day Four
report, a little about Day Three. Sunday the
crew enjoyed a slightly different pace from
the rest of the Tour -- a bit more relaxed,
with a "House Party" theme, ala Howard
Dean, where Seattle area allies hosted gatherings
and graciously opened their homes to the Tour
... an organizing idea with the distinct advantage
of including great food and a relaxed atmosphere,
where easy conversations take the place of more
high stakes presentations (for one day, at least...).
But by Day Four it was back to the grindstone.
While half of the Tour crew stayed in the Seattle
area for presentations at South Seattle Community
College (with a fantastic group of students
from the business department who, unlike some
executives we know, had no problem understanding
the importance of human rights and socially
responsible business practices...) and at the
University of Washington (pictured above), where
the class -- on the topic of social movements
in agriculture -- had a totally different focus,
examining the similarities between the CIW and
movements for social justice from the Global
... the other half headed to the University
of Central Washington for a meeting with the
students on campus that are spearheading the
Boot the Bell movement's newest campaign.
There the Tour crew felt immediately welcome,
with large signs like these announcing their
... and banners like these announcing who their
key allies will be in the fight for fair food
on the Central Washington University campus!
MEChA has been a key CIW ally on campuses across
the country since the launch of the boycott
in 2001, and seeing that they will be at the
heart of the campaign at CWU gave the Tour crew
great confidence that the campaign there will
be a success.
Following the meeting, workers and students
headed to the Taco Bell on campus to take their
message to rest of the CWU student body...
... and the students loved it. Here two new
converts to the boycott turn their back on the
Bell (see the sign in the upper left corner)
and proudly break on through to the other side...
of the campus food court, where they headed
instead for the CWU cafeteria (a little tip
of the hat to Jim Morrison, there, for those
of you who didn't quite catch that reference...)...
And speaking of hats... this student took time
to learn more about the boycott from Melody
Gonzalez, a student leader from the Notre Dame
campaign who has been a tremendous addition
to this year's Tour crew. By the time he was
done talking to Melody, he was ready to "Cowboy
Up" for the boycott...
In the evening, the two halves of the Tour crew
hooked back up at the University of Washington
for three more events. First, a meeting with
UW student allies, including representatives
from United Students Against Sweatshops, from
the Fair Trade Coffee movement on campus, and
from our new friends at Anakbayan Seattle, an
association of Filipino youth who are organizing
to study and educate others about the rich culture
and proud history of the Filipino people's continuing
Following the meeting, the Tour crew posed for
a solidarity picture with some of the Anakbayan
members in the Filipino room of the UW Ethnic
and Cultural Center, where the mural on the
wall reminded us of the crucial -- but often
overlooked -- contribution of Filipino workers
to the birth of the UFW and the movement for
farmworker justice in California.
Also at the Ethnic and Cultural Center, Tour
members met with UW MEChA...
... where, as always, workers from Immokalee
were received with great respect and given a
place at the table to present the problems faced
by farmworkers in Florida.
Finally, the evening ended with a particularly
powerful gathering. The CIW joined the Northwest
launch of the International Caravan for Justice
for the Women of Ciudad Juarez. Ramona Morales,
whose daughter was murdered at the tender age
of 16, shared the story of her fight for justice
for her daughter. Her daughter's disappearance
-- like the murder and disappearance of hundreds
of young, poor women in Ciudad Juarez -- has
gone unsolved, thanks to inaction on the part
of the Mexican authorities and cold indifference
from the multi-national corporations whose maquiladoras
employed many of these women. However, the families
of these women refuse to remain silent and have
launched an international campaign to find answers
to the questions that haunt them, to seek justice
for those guilty for the murders, and to demand
an end to this most barbaric consequence of
At the root of the maquila murders is an all
too familiar story for the workers in the fields
of the United States. Forced to leave their
homes and families due to trade policies negotiated
in secret between governments and multi-national
corporations, these young women and men who
seek a better life for their families and children
instead find inhumane working conditions, low
wages, and no protections whatsoever from industries
that see their workers as tools for profit-making
rather than human beings with families to support
and dreams to achieve.
Sweatshops, slavery, and murders are all to
often the realities behind the clothes, electronics,
and fast-food we consume today. But, speaking
at the event for the women of Juarez, Francisca
Cortez of the CIW made it clear that another
world is indeed possible. Corporations like
Taco Bell have the power in their hands to ensure
that the products that they offer consumers
are free from these most egregious human rights
abuses. And the time is now for them to show
the rest of the world how it can be done.
It's a message that Seattle has heard loud
and clear over the past few days...
As the day came to a close, the Tour crew was
faced with the sad but inevitable task of saying
goodbye to the Emerald City and, sadder yet,
to our gracious host Helene (middle), who opened
her home to seven strangers and took us in like
family since we reached Seattle last Thursday.
Thanks again, Helene, and there will be a place
in Immokalee for you always!
Next up: Olympia!
Be sure to check out the latest news from the
UCLA Boot the Bell campaign. Click on the following
two links to see some powerful editorials from
the UCLA "Daily Bruin":
Plus, check out this great report by Rev. Noelle
Damico, National Coordinator of the Taco Bell
Boycott for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
on Lucas Benitez's organizing tour of Long Island!
a great day of classroom and community presentations,
the Immokalee crew joined hundreds of health care
workers in the streets on a rainy Day Two in the
Pacific Northwest (more on that in a moment...).
Also today... Momentum for change
is building! Check out today's Naples Daily News
article on the Northwest Tour:
"Farmworker group taking anti-Taco Bell message
to Idaho" (10/16)
first, an early morning visit to the Casa Latina
Day Labor Center in downtownSeattle, where CIW
members met with workers who gather there every
morning before dawn -- in the shadows of Seattle's
skyline and its skyscrapers' still-darkened windows
-- rain or shine (the shine part being apparently
an all-too-rare occurence in this city...).
At the center we met with representatives
of Community to Community (pictured above) of
Bellingham, WA, an organization working with agricultural
workers north of Seattle. There they are working
on bringing farmworkers and family farmers together
in an alliance for a sustainable agricultural
system -- one not built upon a foundation of exploited
labor -- an alternative agricultural industry
supplying food to consumers through local markets,
not multi-national corporations.
Then it was off to Seattle's Volunteer Park, where
we joined several hundred SEIU members and supporters
from across the state of Washington for a wet
but raucous march demanding affordable healthcare
for working families.
At the march, we hooked up with old friends, including
this former resident of Immokalee now living in
Seattle! (left) ...
... And made some new friends, too, including
SEIU International President Andrew Stern, who
expressed his support and gratitude to the Immokalee
workers for their ongoing struggle for justice
in the fields.
Still fired up from the health care march, the
crew from Immokalee decided to pay a visit to
a local Taco Bell for a little one-on-one flyering
with the people of Seattle. Here we met up with
yet another new friend -- a man who actually used
to pick tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables
in the fields of south Florida.
While half the crew remained outside to raise
awareness about the boycott, a small delegation
went inside the restaurant to speak with customers...
... And Taco Bell employees, as well.
Meahwhile, back outside, the flyering continued,
and our new friend was so moved by the campaign
that he came back and brought us all sodas (not
union-busting Cocal Cola products, either)!
The flyering was a huge success. For two hours
we turned the streets into a classroom, where
dialogue replaced division and reflection took
root in a place where complacence usually reigns.
Even this long-time Taco Bell customer on the
right -- check out the cup... -- couldn't just
walk away from the impromptu community formed
outside the restaurant's doors on this day. Like
millions of other consumers across the country,
she has been eating at Taco Bell for years without
any idea of the poverty and sweatshop conditions
behind the cheap food and hip advertising of her
favorite fast-food company. But today she was
presented with the opportunity to think critically
about her consumption decisions -- the kind of
thinking she does every day in her work with a
fair trade coffee organization in Seattle! --
and as a result is now another EX-Taco Bell customer,
at least until Taco Bell does the right thing
and addresses the labor abuses in its supply chain.
And so it was for hundreds of people today outside
of the Taco Bell on Broadway in downtown Seattle,
where normally anonymous streets were converted
into a public square, a true "town hall meeting"
where the people of Seattle and people from Immokalee
stopped, talked, and came together to imagine
a future where fast food is fair food, too.
Stay tuned for more from Seattle!
Seattle... a blue-collar city with a style all
its own... a city that has given us some of
the hardest working, most creative artists in
modern music, from Jimi Hendrix (his statue
here graces Broadway, a main thoroughfare) to
Kurt Cobain and the Grunge movement...
... spectacular, off-beat architecture, including
the famous Space Needle, pictured here over a
somewhat grungy section of Downtown Seattle, against
Seattle's famously overcast skies ...
... the world-renowned Pike's Place market, where
hardworking fishmongers like the man pictured
above are known not just for their fresh salmon...
... but for the fresh style with which they fling
the poor little creatures through the (scented)
air of the busy market..
... and last, but not least, fashion... where
black is definitely the new black this year,
as in this Matrix-inspired ensemble...
... And so it is that the Taco Bell boycott --
a blue-collar movement with style if there ever
was one -- felt right at home as it brought the
boycott to Seattle for the very first time, launching
the 2004 Northwest Mini-Tour. Here, one half of
the Mini-Tour team arrives for a morning of classroom
presentations at Central Seattle Community College.
Students at CSCC were great -- a cross section
of inspiringly diverse, sincere, and engaged
young people from Seattle who connected immediately
with the struggle of immigrant workers from
The new CIW postcard campaign to Yum Brands
was a big hit, too, as students eagerly asked
what they could to do voice their support for
the boycott. Remember, you too can get in on
the new postcard campaign -- click here to see
the new card on our Take Action page, then
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll send you as many cards as you
can use to distribute among your friends, co-workers,
or fellow church members!
The connection between the Immokalee crew and
students at CSCC was real and direct -- breaking
through the haze created by Taco Bell's marketing
and bringing the reality of sweatshop conditions
behind Taco Bell's products into sharp focus
for the first time in Seattle. The connection
inspired some encouraging solidarity, as well
-- the young man on the left speaking with Romeo
Ramirez of the CIW works as a supermarket bagger
to pay for school and was particularly moved
by the presentation, excited about organizing
at his own workplace after hearing the story
of farmworkers in Immokalee.
The day ended with two more presentations --
one at a well-attended political rally (not
pictured here) where the boycott was warmly
received (and graciously given a speaking spot
with no advance notice!), the other a potluck
dinner with members of the Community Coalition
for Environmental Justice (pictured above with
some of the Tour crew).
All in all, a great start
to the Northwest Tour. Tomorrow, it's on to
meetings with day-haul workers, an SEIU march
and rally for affordable health care, and a
party celebrating "Bosses' Day" (yes,
there really is a Bosses Day, though it probably
wasn't intended to be celebrated the way we're