Here's what Eric Schlosser, author of the best-selling book Fast Food Nation, has to say about the Taco Bell boycott and why he chose to endorse the CIW's campaign for "fast and fair food" (Mr. Schlosser is shown here speaking at the Feb. 28, 2003, rally in support of hunger strikers outside Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, CA):
"We all eat. But we rarely stop to think about where our food comes from, how it was made -- and who makes it possible.
Most of America's fruits and vegetables are still picked by hand. The farm workers who pick them are among the nation's poorest. In the same way that Nike has been held accountable for the mistreatment of the Asian workers who make its sneakers, major companies like Taco Bell must be held accountable for the mistreatment of the American farm workers who pick their fruits and vegetables.
Just an extra penny a pound could make the difference between a life of poverty and a living wage. Every one of our purchases is like a vote, a vote for a particular company and its business practices. Don't give your money to corporations who profit from the exploitation of the poor.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers are trying to bring dignity and a decent wage to American farm workers. Please give them your full support."
Eric Schlosser, Professor Noam Chomsky, and several US family farm organizations have joined a number of well-known activists and artists in adding their voices to the call for Fair Food, including award-winning actors Edward James Olmos and Susan Sarandon, Dolores Huerta of the UFW, Barbara Ehrenreich of "Nickel and Dimed," David Korten of "When Corporations Rule the World," Julia Butterfly Hill, the Indigo Girls, Chumbawamba, and Naomi Klein of "No Logo."
You, and your organization, can join the United Farm Workers, the Presbyterian Church USA, the American Postal Workers' Union, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, United Students Against Sweatshops, ACORN, the United Church of Christ, Global Exchange, the Mexico Solidarity Network, United for a Fair Economy and MORE... by officially endorsing the boycott.
If you'd like to add your name to the list of organizations and individuals endorsing the boycott, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know that you or your organization is interested in officially endorsing the Taco Bell boycott. We'd be happy to help you with anything you might need.
Here's what a few of the other endorsers have said about the boycott and their decision to lend their formal support to the farmworkers' struggle here in Immokalee:
The National Family Farm Coalition (a coalition of farm organizations), the Family Farm Defenders, and the Community Farm Alliance in Kentucky and Indiana (CFA) have all joined the growing list of endorsers. Here's an excerpt of the CFA statement:
"... We know that as your organization and other farmworker organizations suceed, we will have begun to dismantle the sort of unfair corporate advantage such as is advanced by the corporate cheerleaders for the North American Free Trade Agreement and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. We hope to stem and reverse the now regular disappearance of small farmers from the rural landscape. Instead of giving further berth to the expansion and further empowerment of corporate agriculture such as is now systematized under NAFTA and will be developed further under the proposed FTAA, we hope to see the fair compensation for labor for all those involved in agriculture in our lifetimes..." read more of this eloquent statement
David Korten, author of "When Corporations Rule the World," had this to say about the boycott when he endorsed the campaign:
"I strongly endorse the boycott of Taco Bell and other fast food chains that profit from the misery of underpaid workers and pose a threat to family farms and restaurants. To have a society that works we must all become more conscious of the implications of our food and other buying choices. Make it a regular habit to patronize businesses owned by local people that function as part of a responsible community and avoid patronizing global corporations like Taco Bell that care only for their profits. Taco and hamburger stands should be owned and run by local families, not global corporate predators." David Korten, Author, "When Corporations Rule the World"
And in case you haven't seen it yet... Check out this VIDEO of Tom Morello's speech supporting the boycott at the huge March 11, 2002, rally at Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, CA.
Click here to watch the Quicktime video!
Tom (shown here on the left during his 3/11/02 speech at the culmination of the cross-country "Taco Bell Truth Tour" outside TB's corporate office in Irvine, CA) is Rage Against the Machine's award-winning lead guitarist, and now leads the nationally-acclaimed new group Audioslave. He and Serj Tankian of System of a Down also have a great web site and on-going project for social justice, called Axis of Justice. You can visit the Axis of Justice site by clicking here.
Finally, here is a (still incomplete) list of the official endorsements of the Taco Bell Boycott as of August, 2003. For all those organizations that have endorsed the campaign and don't see your name in this list, please email us and we will get you up qickly:
* Tom Morello, Audioslave (formerly, Rage Against the Machine)
* Susan Sarandon
* Noam Chomsky, professor, MIT
* Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, D-CA
* CA State Senator Joe Dunn, D-District 34
* Edward James Olmos
* The Indigo Girls
* Eric Schlosser (author, "Fast Food Nation")
* Barbara Ehrenreich (author, "Nickel and Dimed")
* David Korten (author, "When Corporations Rule the World")
* Naomi Klein (author, "No Logo")
* Dolores Huerta
* Julia Butterfly Hill
* Howard Zinn (author, "A People's History of the United States)
* Lalo Alcaraz, cartoonist
* Louis Andriessen, composer
* Paul Loeb (author, "Soul of a Citizen")
* American Postal Workers Union (APWU)
* Los Angeles County Federation of Labor
* United Farm Workers (UFW)
* Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noreste (PCUN)
* Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)
* United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, UE District 10
* San Francisco Labor Council (SFLC)
* Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union Local 2850 (HERE)
* Coalition of University Employees Local 3 (CUE - Berkeley, CA)
* Oakland Education Association (OEA - Oakland, CA)
* Laborers International Union, District Council (Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota)
* South Florida Jobs with Justice
* The Garment Workers Center
* United Campus Workers (Communication Workers of America, Local 3865, Knoxville, TN) * Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA National Office, NY, NY)
* United for Peace and Justice
* Mexico Solidarity Network
* Global Exchange
* Campaign for Labor Rights
* United for a Fair Economy
* Food First
* Anti-Slavery International (London)
* Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, National (MEChA)
* MEChA de Palomar College
* United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)
* United States Student Association (USSA)
* Student Labor Action Project (SLAP)
* Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC)
* Student/Farmworker Alliance
* Campus Greens
* Student Peace Action Network (SPAN)
* Students Transforming and Resistine Corporations (STARC)
* Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC)
* University of California Student Association (UCSA)
* Purdue Organization for Labor Equality (POLE)
* The Movement for Democracy for Education 180
* San Diego State University, Student Government
* Harvard Divinity School, Anti-Poverty Campaign and Equitas
* National Council of Churches
* United Methodist Church
* Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA)
* Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
* United Church of Christ
* California Council of Churches
* Pax Christi USA
* American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
* New Orleans Province of the Jesuits
* Bishop John Nevins, DD, Diocese of Venice, Florida
* Peace and Justice Office, Diocese of Venice, Florida
* Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida
* Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
* National Farm Worker Ministry
* National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice
* Ohio Council of Churches
* First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Findlay, OH
* Florida Council of Churches Commission on Social Justice
* Apostolic Catholic Church (SW Florida)
* Sarasota/Manateee Farm Worker Supporters
* The Session of Lakeview Presbyterian Church, Florida
* North Carolina Council of Churches Farmworker Ministry Committee
* Florida United Church of Christ Women
* Florida Church Women United
* Church Women United of Illinois
* South Florida Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice
* Tampa Farm Worker Supporters
* Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida
* Unitarian Universalist Migrant Ministry
* Religious Society of Friends, Ft. Myers Meeting
* Florida Council of Churches Commission on Social Justice
* Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
* Orange County (CA) Interfaith Committee to Aid Farm Workers
* National Family Farm Coalition
* Family Farm Defenders
* Community Farm Alliance of Kentucky and Indiana
* National Lawyers Guild
* American Anti-Slavery Group
* School of Americas Watch (SOA Watch)
* National Lawyers Guild
* Florida AIM (American Indian Movement)
* ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)
* Florida Green Party
* LUS (Latinos Unidos Siempre), youth organization, Oregon
* Florida Coalition of Peace and Justice
* Long Beach, CA, Green Party
* The Simple Way
* Zapatista Solidarity Coalition - Sacramento, CA
* Bay Area (San Francisco) Radical Women
* Green Party of Brevard County, FL
* The Blue-Green Alliance of the Green Party of Florida
* San Francisco Day Laborers
* Marin (CA) Interfaith Task Force on Latin America
* Liberate Orange County (CA)
* Coastal Convergence Society (Huntington Beach, CA)
NEW ENDORSEMENT FROM THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH -- USA
OVERTURE FOR FARM WORKER JUSTICE
The Presbytery of Tampa Bay overtures the 214th General Assembly (2002) to do the following:
1. Offer its prayers for the farmworkers of Florida.
2. Call upon Presbyterians to endorse and support the national boycott of Taco Bell Restaurants and all Taco Bell products until Taco Bell, Six Ls Corporation, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers mutually agree to begin negotiations that can lead to resolution of inhumane working and living conditions.
3. Instruct the Stated Clerk to express to the President of Taco Bell, the owner of Six Ls Corporation, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Governor of the State of Florida, the President of the Florida State Senate, and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives the support of this boycott by the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Scripture is replete with admonitions to seek justice and to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves.
NRS Leviticus 19:13 "You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning."
A recent Human Rights Watch report, Fingers to the Bone, reports that agricultural work is the most hazardous kind of work in which children are employed. Abuses to farm workers include long hours (no limit), persistent wage exploitation and fraud, and exposure to dangerous pesticides.
NRS Proverbs 31:9 Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
The U.S. Dept of Labor stated in December of 2000 that Production of fruits and vegetables has increased and global demand for American produce continues to grow, but agricultural workers earnings and working conditions are either stagnant or in decline. Studies have shown that improving wages and conditions will actually increase productivity.
NRS James 5:4 Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
Taco Bell reported earnings of more than $5-billion in 1999, while Tricon, Taco Bells parent corporation, earned over $22-billion last year.
NJB Jeremiah 5:28 . . . they are fat, they are sleek, in wickedness they go to any lengths; they have no respect for rights, for orphans rights, and yet they succeed! They have not upheld the cause of the needy.
Taco Bell could double the picking rate, which would result in a living wage for the farm workers, by agreeing to pay one penny more per pound for the tomatoes it buys from Six Ls. If this total cost was passed on to the consumer, it would be less than 1†4 of one cent more for a Chalupa.
NRS Proverbs 16:8 "Better is a little with righteousness than large income with injustice."
The Coalition for Immokalee Workers has been continually thwarted in all attempts to be treated as human beings with certain basic rights to dignity and respect. They cry out for justice and have been greeted with a wall of silence from the growers. Therefore, they are turning to the consumers to support this boycott until such time as the parties involved agree to negotiate.
NJB Psalm 10:17 "Yahweh, you listen to the laments of the poor, you give them courage, you grant them a hearing, 18 to give judgment for the orphaned and exploited, so that earthborn humans may strike terror no more."
This is the opportunity to make the dream of unity into reality. It is in the struggle together for justice that we can experience the sense of community, the sense of being a people who are for life, and a people of faith, hope, and love. We are not required to judge right and wrong. As the church, we are required to let the spirit of God work through us.
NRS Psalm 82:2 How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?
As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, We do not boycott to put anyone out of business. We are boycotting to put justice into business.
And here below is the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's official endorsement, which you can use as a reference for writing your own organization's statement:
WHEREAS, On April 1st, 2001, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Florida called for a nation-wide boycott of Taco Bell, following more than a year of denied requests for dialogue with Taco Bell to discuss means to improve the working conditions and pay-rates of the workers who provide Taco Bell with tomatoes; and
WHEREAS, farm workers who pick tomatoes as "employees" of a contractor for Taco Bell are paid 40 cents for every 32-pound bucket they pick, which is the same "piece rate", paid in 1978; and
WHEREAS, Taco Bell uses this traditional method of contracted out labor as a means of refusing to bargain with the farm workers who provide their produce; and
WHEREAS, Florida, as most states in the US, has no laws protecting farm workers' rights to organize; and
WHEREAS, on a national level farm workers' real wages have decreased 5% over the last decade; and
WHEREAS, there are no employees of Taco Bell in the Los Angeles Area with a Union contract; and
WHEREAS, the CIW has planned a national tour publicizing the boycott of Taco Bell beginning in Tampa, Florida, ending with a mass-protest at the National Headquarter of Taco Bell in Irvine, California;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor endorses the nationwide boycott of Taco Bell called for by the CIW, and urges all of its affiliated unions and members to refrain from patronizing Taco Bell Restaurants in observance of this boycott;
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the LCFL urges all of its affiliated unions and members to join in the planning of and participate in the protest against Taco Bell in Los Angeles and endorses the protests at the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, California.