Coalition of Immokalee Workers 2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour

DAY FOUR
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2005 TACO BELL TRUTH TOUR: DAY FOUR
Dayton/Cleveland (East) & Bloomington/Indianapolis (West)

West tour photos © Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net

 


The 2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour picked up some serious momentum on Thursday as workers from Immokalee and their allies plunged deeper into the Midwest. Day Four marked the heaviest day of action so far with a series of press conferences and protests that reverberated throughout the states of Ohio and Indiana.


Around 6:30 a.m., tour participants on the West leg began to rise and shine (some notably later than others). The night before, their generous hosts at the Second Presbyterian Church in Ferguson, Missouri welcomed the riders with delicious horchata to drink and comfortable mattresses to sleep on.

After breakfast, it was time for yet another round of heartfelt good-byes as the West leg hit the road towards Indiana.

Upon arriving in Bloomington, the tour participants were delighted to find that local supporters had already taken to the streets outside Taco Bell. Following their lead, workers and allies immediately poured off the bus and joined the energetic protest. The lunchtime action gave CIW members a great chance to try out one of their newest tools for drawing attention to the hands that literally make Taco Bell's profits possible.

Following the protest, the West leg crew split into two groups. While one group headed to Indiana University, a smaller contingent was welcomed by students of the Harmony School.

At the Harmony School, workers demonstrated yet another new tool: a colorful, hand-painted story board documenting the history of the CIW and explaining the role of companies such as Taco Bell in perpetuating sweatshop conditions in Florida's fields. Needless to say, the visual aid was a big hit with the students.

The workers were happy to find that many of the students -- who ranged from third grade to high school -- were already aware of the issues at hand and focused intensely on the presentation.

From Bloomington, the West leg rolled on towards Indianapolis, where they were again greeted by supporters already waiting outside Taco Bell.

The day's second boisterous protest ensued...


... and the Immokalee workers made it perfectly clear how they feel about the exploitative business practices of Taco Bell's parent company, Yum Brands.

To finish off another great day on the road, the riders received a very warm welcome -- not to mention a tasty dinner -- from members of Justice for Janitors and the SEIU local. At the relaxed gathering, Indianapolis allies shared moving stories of their own struggles for workers rights, and extended their deepest support to the CIW's efforts. It was an excellent time to reflect and rest for the final stretch before the tour arrives in Louisville, KY for a week of action leading up to the March 12th national convergence.

Next up for the West leg: 2 days in the Windy City!

While the West leg was blazing through Indiana, the East leg was making its presence felt in Ohio. Day Four began in Cincinnati with a send-off breakfast organized by the American Friends Service Committee. After an hour on the road, the tour arrived in Dayton just in time for a press conference at Memorial Presbyterian Church. After lunch at the church, the workers and their allies headed over to a nearby Taco Bell to do what they do best.

The protest was truly an inter-generational gathering...


...where workers made a simple yet powerful statement: "With these hands I demand the future that sub-poverty wages have stolen from me." (Stay tuned next week for more about the exciting "With These Hands" project!)


While most of the East tour crew was at the action, a smaller group broke away and visited the University of Dayton where they made brief presentations in several classes. Above, a CIW member addresses the conditions women face while working in the fields.

Afterwards, the tour crew reunited and drove into Cleveland for a well-attended press conference across the street from the national headquarters of the United Church of Christ. The UCC was the first of many national denominations to endorse the Taco Bell boyocott and has been an active supporter of the CIW's stuggle for respect and dignity for farmworkers ever since.

At the press conference, the CIW was honored to be joined by friends from the Deaf and Deaf-Blind Committee for Human Rights (of North Olmsted, Ohio), a fellow member group of the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign. They shared the struggles of deaf people to attain a living wage, relating it back to the CIW's fight for fair wages. We're very excited that members of the Deaf and Deaf-Blind Committee will be joining us in Louisville on March 12th!


The East leg's evening in Cleveland wrapped up with a bang: a packed house at a CIW teach-in & dinner hosted by John Carroll University. There were familiar faces in the crowd since several JCU students visited Immokalee earlier this winter to learn firsthand about working and living conditions in the Florida town. The ensuing presentation and question-and-answer session lasted well into the evening, and provided yet another powerful sign of students' determination to work with the CIW as partners for this long-overdue change in the agricultural industry.

Next up for the East leg: Columbus, Oberlin, and more!

Click here for more photos from Day 4!

Click here for photos & reports from Day 5!