Statement by Student/Youth representatives at Feb. 28th, '03, rally
outside Taco Bell headquarters in support of hunger strikers
Student/Farmworker reps. read message
at Feb. 28th rally outside TB headquarters
"In the last five years, five separate cases of modern day
slavery have been uncovered in the fields of South Florida and
brought to justice -- Taco Bell, can you prove that your tomatoes
were not picked in these enslaved conditions?
On behalf of the students and youth of America, your primary marketing
targets, we are here to express our solidarity with the farmworkers
who pick your tomatoes in Immokalee, Florida. Although we do not
work next to them in the fields, we stand next to them in the
universal struggle for justice. All workers have the right to
a living wage, but the tomato pickers in Immokalee suffer under
harsh conditions and are rewarded with poverty level wages.
Recently, you issued a statement promising to make reforms for
animal rights; so why not take a stand for human rights? Though
Taco Bell does not write the workers' checks, you are responsible
for the subcontractors and accountable to the consumers. You do
have the influence to affect a change.
Therefore, until TB takes responsibility for the working conditions
in Immokalee, and uses its influence to bring representatives
of TB, the growers and the CIW to the table and open meaningful
dialogue, students and youth of all races, locations, and income
levels will continue the struggle. We will vehemently support
the Boycott, we will continue to "Boot the Bell" from
every single college and high school campus. We will take our
message to the streets to ensure that it is anything but business
as usual at every TB in the country, and we will not back down.
If you have not heard our statement through our solidarity hunger
strike then you WILL hear it through our actions.
Last year we promised that our campaign would escalate. There
are more than 60 solidarity actions this week alone and this movement
is still growing. In this last year we have created 14 Taco Bell
free zones including: The University of Chicago, University of
San Francisco, Samford University, California State University
Los Angeles, Middle Tennessee State University, UC Berkley and
Notre Dame -- with many more to follow.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers wants an effective dialogue
between workers, growers, and Taco Bell, a code of conduct defining
humane working conditions of where their tomatoes are produced,
and that TB pay one cent more per pound of tomatoes they purchase
and ensure that penny is passed to the hands of the workers.
Until the demands of the tomato pickers are met, the youth of
this country will continue the struggle. We are all brothers and
sisters, and we all deserve to live and be free. An injustice
to one is an injustice to all."
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