Mar. 9, 2005 – After an almost four-year boycott, a hunger strike, and several bus tours promoting their cause, a farmworkerâ€™s organization based in southern Florida declared a victory yesterday in its battle to improve working conditions for Taco Bellâ€™s tomato pickers. In an unusual conclusion to the prolonged campaign, Taco Bell and its parent company, Yum! Brands, agreed to all of the Coalition of Immokalee Workersâ€™ demands.
The workers will receive a penny-per-pound raise for the tomatoes they pick -- nearly double their current pay. Taco Bell says it will terminate contracts with subcontractors who fail to implement the raise.
The fast food chain also agreed to institute a code of conduct with its growers, explicitly prohibiting human rights violations. In addition, labor representatives will now be allowed to participate in discussions between Yum! Brands and the growers, allowing the farmworkers to have input on future changes to their working conditions.
Coalition activist Gerardo Reyes Chavez attributed the boycottâ€™s apparent success to public outrage over the working conditions and poverty wages of the farmworkers who labor in Floridaâ€™s tomato fields. Hundreds of student groups and dozens of religious organizations allied themselves with the farmworkers during the boycott.
"With this victory we are sending a very strong message," Reyes told The NewStandard. "Yum Brands and Taco Bell have realized that itâ€™s time to do business in a different way."
In a joint press release, Taco Bell representatives said they will be working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to push for industry-wide improvements in wages and working conditions for farmworkers. Taco Bell President Emil Brolick said, "We hope others in the restaurant industry and supermarket retail trade will follow our leadership."