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.
breakfast, it was time for yet another round of heartfelt good-byes
as the West leg hit the road towards Indiana.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bloomington, the West leg rolled on towards Indianapolis, where
they were again greeted by supporters already waiting outside Taco
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
Next up for the East leg: Columbus, Oberlin, and more!
here for more photos from Day 4!
Click here for photos & reports
from Day 5!