On February 27, at least 300 people took part in demonstrations focusing on the sweatshop conditions in the Florida fields where Taco Bell's tomatoes are picked. People rallied at the Mission St. Taco Bell before marching through parts of downtown Santa Cruz and on to the Laurel St. Taco Bell. A large number of UCSC students took part in the demonstration, as well as various labor organizations such as the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and United Farm Workers (UFW).
There were puppets, megaphones, poi dancing, and even a critical mass bike ride which included a critical drive-thru.
An important message of the day was, "Farmworkers Feed America! Stop the Exploitation!"
more photos: [ 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 ]
[ Coalition of Immokalee Workers - Boycott the Bell I Student Farmworker Alliance I Taco Bell Truth Tour ]
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March 2-4 -- March from East LA to Irvine, CA, home of Taco Bell's global headquarters
March 5 -- Rally at Taco Bell headquarters, Irvine, CA -- music, speakers, political theater, and more!
For details on how you can join Immokalee workers on the 2004 tour: email us at:
The fruits and vegetables we eat are produced, almost without exception, in a world virtually unknown to US consumers. It is a world hidden from our view by the bright neon logos of the fast-food giants and the shining rows of neatly stacked produce lining the aisles of supermarkets from Miami to LA.
It is also a world of extreme exploitation and human rights violations. In September, 2003, the Miami Herald published the results of an extensive investigation of farm labor conditions in Florida's fields in a Special Report, entitled "Fields of Despair." In the editorial that accompanied the report, the Herald wrote, "Drinking a glass of orange juice or eating lunch at a fast-food restaurant doesn't automatically conjure up images of exploited farmworkers toiling in dusty fields like indentured servants. But a connection between the two is an unpleasant reality in Florida. The orange juice that accompanies your breakfast eggs and the tomatoes in that salad may well be the product of a process that begins with servitude -- some call it slavery -- that decent people abhor."
Organized farmworkers from Immokalee, Florida, the state's largest farmworker community, brought those conditions to the attention of Taco Bell, one of the largest buyers of Florida tomatoes, in early 2000. One year later, with no answer from the fast-food giant, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) called for a national boycott of Taco Bell, demanding that the multi-billion dollar corporation recognize its role in the exploitation of farmworkers who pick its produce and take steps to clean up human rights violations in its supply chain.
Since then, the Taco Bell Boycott has become one of the fastest growing movements for social justice in the country, and the Immokalee workers have received national recognition for their work drawing the links between corporate profits and farmworker poverty. In 2002, a caravan of workers crossed the country in the first-ever "Taco Bell Truth Tour," culminating in a massive march and rally at Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, CA. Last year, 75 workers and allies held an unprecedented 10-day hunger strike outside Taco Bell's headquarters. This past November, three CIW members received the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for their work fighting modern-day slavery and their leadership of the Taco Bell Boycott.
With public attention to the modern-day slavery and sweatshop conditions in Florida's fields at an all-time high, this year's action promises to be the most powerful yet in this growing, grassroots campaign. The highlight of the 2004 Tour will be a three-day march, from East LA to Irvine. From March 2-4, Immokalee workers will be joined by allies from across the country on the 40-mile march, taking the boycott to millions of consumers on Southern California streets. The march will culminate in a huge, day-long rally on March 5th -- a political, musical, cultural festival that will shake the foundations of a fast-food industry built on the exploitation of workers and consumers alike.
Join us in LA as we ring the Bell for justice in 2004!
Again, for more details on how you can join Immokalee workers on the 2004 tour: email us at: