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Farmworkers March for Living Wage

Food First
February 26th, 2004

Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy proudly endorses and will march in the Taco Bell Truth Tour, organized by the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). The tour demands that Taco Bell press its tomato suppliers to pay their workers a living wage and improve working conditions.

"Farmworkers are among the lowest paid and most exploited workers in the United States," said Anuradha Mittal of Food First. "The average annual salary of a farm worker is $7,500, far below the poverty threshold for a single person."

The cross-country tour's highlight will be a three-day march beginning March 2 from Belvedere Park in East Los Angeles to a rally on March 5 at Taco Bell's headquarters in Irvine, Orange County.

There, the marchers will be greeted at a rally supporting the workers. Speakers will include Anuradha Mittal of Food First and Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. Performances will be by Tom Morello of "Rage Against the Machine" and Hip Hop artist Boots Riley.

"Food First is here because the human rights of farmworkers are being trampled in the rush for profits," said Mittal. "The irony here is that while Taco Bell's owners, Yum! Brands, has pledged not to buy food from suppliers that mistreat animals, they don't have any problem with the suppliers who mistreat the workers harvesting their food."

The CIW's struggle against Taco Bell, the largest buyer of tomatoes grown in the Immokalee, Florida region, began in 2000, when they launched a boycott and protested the sweatshop conditions-including slavery-that farmworkers in Immokalee were forced to endure. Workers have not seen a rise in pay since 1978.

Food First, along with the Mexican Solidarity Movement, Greenaction, Art and Revolution, the SEIU Local 790, and the Ruckus Society, is organizing a bus that will leave March 4 from the Bay Area to join farmworkers from the CIW for the march and rally on March 5.

The "Truth Tour" will include a march on Taco Bell's parent company, Yum! Brands, the largest restaurant company in the world, in Louisville, Kentucky and a protest at the Mission Street Taco Bell in Santa Cruz, California.

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