IMMOKALEE WORKERS LAUNCHING MCDONALDS TRUTH TOUR-Andrew Stelzer

02/23/06

The coalition of Immokalee Workers, the group of south farm workers who campaigned for years to get higher pay for picking tomatoes for Taco Bell, eventually getting a raise of a penny more per pound and fair working conditions, is now turning their sites on McDonalds. The McDonalds Truth tour, based on the tours the farm workers and student allies took across the country is set to kick off on March 26th, culminating with mass rally outside McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago on April 1st. Sean Sellers is with the Student Farmworker Alliance. He told WMNF that McDonalds has not been forthcoming in negotiations with the workers, and the time has come to hit the road once again.

MCDONALDS TRUTH TOUR

Sellers: "There was a four part series and the first part just had so many flaws about the UFW organizing. She didn't talk about us, you know, winning a contract over at Gallo vineyards, she didn't talk about the heat regulations we were able to put in place through our political department that protect not just the farm workers -- the 27,000 farmworkers we have under union contract -- but all farm workers. We had five-farm workers die of heat exposure last year. We got a Republican governor to sign heat regulations that put those in place. I mean, she showed all these photos of farm workers living in just unacceptable conditions, and we know that. We know that. But what is the state doing? And more importantly, what is the people who employee the workers doing? What are the growers doing? Why are they not paying a livable wage so that farmworkers don't have to live like this? Our mission, due to UFW, we continue to organize." "The second part she talked about the Chavez family, which I took exception to. I come out of that family. She talked about us. She said something like, we were enriching our family, which is just absolutely not true. I mean I did not invite anybody to our headquarters, to the UFW headquarters and see the way that my uncles live. She criticized the twelve Chavez family members of the four hundred employees who work for the larger movement. She criticized us for working, you know, toward continuing my grandfather's legacy. We took exception to that. "And then the third part -- I mean she just attacked my grandfather's character. I thought it was incredibly unfair that my grandfather is not here to defend himself and the LA Times has written 50 stories in the last 10 years by 22 different writers about the positive things that farm workers have done about our push for immigration reform, our push for heat regulation, our speaking out for the larger immigrant community so is this writer right? Are the 22 others wrong? Both can't be right.?

Mitch: "Right. Let me just follow up if I could, Christine, another writer who has been critical of the UFW and that has been Mark Cooper of the LA Weekly. He wrote and I quote: 'If the UFW spent as much energy organizing farm workers into unions as it is investing in its campaign to shut down reporters who criticize it we would all be better off."

Chavez: "And I would say if Mark Cooper would spend as much time on going after the corporate unions -- we have a big campaign right now on how the hotel industry is trying to take away so many benefits from hotel workers. If Mark Cooper spent more time on that, we'd have workers with a livable wage. We'd spend more time looking at the growers, and at all the outsourcing of jobs, looking at the Enron’s of the state we'd have more workers earning a livable wage." -30-

That was Sean Sellers with the Student Farmworker Alliance. For more information about the Coalition of Immokalee workers McDonalds Truth Tour log onto www.ciw-online.org

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