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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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