Coalition of Immokalee Workers

McDonald's Truth Tour 2006:
The Real Rights Tour!



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After a refreshing and inspiring stopover in Louisville on Monday evening, it was time to hit the road again bright and early Tuesday morning. With the Truth Tour fanning out across the Midwest on Day 3, the East Leg quickly found its way to Cincinnati, Ohio where local labor and faith allies were ready to hit the streets, despite the intermittent rain, connecting the dots between farmworker poverty and the Golden Arches.

And in another incredible display of hospitality, a McDonald's corporate advance team had gone out of its way to meet us -- or rather, watch us from inside the restaurant. (It certainly appeared that this duo was intentionally keeeping a lower profile througout our spirited lunchtime protest. Perhaps they saw the Day 2 tour updates prior to their little expedition...)

But before visiting McDonald's, the Immokalee crew made a detour into downtown Cincinnati to hook up with an SEIU press conference announcing important developments in their local campaign against 5/3 Bank. The event was well-attended not only by local labor and religious leaders, but also by many rank-and-file union members who joined up with the McDonald's protest later that afternoon.

After working up an appetite on the picket line, the CIW and its Cincinnati friends drove a few blocks to the Church of our Saviour, a local Episcopal parish that graciously opened its arms (and dining hall) to the travellers from southwest Florida. Over homemade soup and bread, the group from Immokalee exchanged stories and shared experiences with local Cincinnati workers and residents. The warm atmosphere was the perfect way to wrap up this brief but heartfelt Day 3 tour stop.

After lunch and a 250-mile drive up I-75, the East Leg crew arrived in a gritty city with a long history of workers organizing for economic justice: Detroit. The main focus of the Detroit stop was Wayne State University, a school with a student body hungry to learn more about the CIW and its new McDonald's campaign. Members of the CIW addressed a room full of students and local supporters, and the evening presentation was well-received. The reception was so positive, in fact, that...

... a group of students and farmworkers -- the very alliance that was crucial in the Taco Bell boycott victory -- paid a brief visit to the McDonald's at Wayne State University. This delegation marked the first campus McDonald's action in the new campaign and was perhaps the figurative opening salvo in the growing student movement to hold McDonald's accountable for exploitation in its supply chain. As with Taco Bell, it just so happens that the majority of these students fall in the range of McDonald's principal target market: 18- to 24-year-olds.

Facing the ominous specter of target market revolt, McDonald's once again flexed its muscle and dispatched an advance team to monitor and assess the deteroirating situation. It was too little, too late, even for the men in khakis, as dozens of students poured out of the presentation and into the dining area in a strong statement of solidarity and support for the Immokalee farmworkers.

Despite the calm and dignified nature of the delegation, however, university police enforced a narrower idea about the role of free speech and hand-painted tomato bucket signs on campus.

The officer escorted the faux tomato bucket outside, where it was released into the custody of the East Leg tour crew.

But even the expulsion of one heck of a tomato bucket sign couldn't dim the spirits of this fired-up group of Wayne State students and Truth Tour pariticipants. The poster in the back row sums up the sentiment completely: Detroit supports the CIW!

MORE PICS!: Click here for the West Leg report!
Click here to see the Central Leg report!

Next stop: Ann Arbor, MI!