COALITION OF IMMOKALEE WORKERS BALK AT TACO BELL PROPOSAL - Mitch Perry

05/24/04

For the first time in the 3 year campaign by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to boycott Taco Bell, the executive of the fast food company's parent corporation - Yum!Brands - has announced a plan to take steps to end the boycott....But it has already been rejected by the Florida based farmworkers alliance....

Last Thursday, Yum Brands Chairman and CEO David Novak announced that if the Coalition of Immokalee Workers ended its 3 year boycott of Taco Bell, his company was prepared to support an industry-wide solution, such as a penny a pound surcharge applied to ALL purchasers of Florida Tomatoes, not just Taco Bell.

Under the proposal, Taco Bell would be willing to be the 1st company to sign up for the surcharge, if it was universally applied to all tomato buyers.

According to the coalition, tomato growers and packers who supply Taco Bell pay workers 40 to 45 cents for picking a 32 pound bucket, meaning a worker must pick about 2 tons of tomatoes to make $50. ...They say farmworkers make about only $7,500 annually.....Greg Asbed is from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers ..He explains Why the group believes Yum Brands offer is NOT serious (roll tape#1 o.q."they have no control")

Laurie Shallow is the director of Public Relations for Taco Bell....She said that one of the criticisms that the Coalition makes about David Novaks offer is exactly what Taco Bell has been saying for the past 3 years (roll tape#2 o.q."opposing odds")

Supporters of the Boycott are also blasting Taco Bell for publicly announcing the proposal last week, saying that Yum Brands' David Novak violated a confidentiality agreement reached between the Coalition and Taco Bell .

The Reverend Noelle Damico is the coordinator of the Taco Bell Boycott for the Presbyterians Church U.S.A. (roll tape#3 o.q."we are deeply disappointed")

Taco Bell Representative Laurie Shallow disagrees that the corporation violated any any type agreement (roll tape#4 o.q."as of last Thursday")

In fact, CIA leader Lucas Benitez WAS present at Yum!Brands annual shareholders meeting in Louisville....He was joined by about 35 Immokalee Farmworkers , students and church leaders who earlier in the day had protested in front of Yum headquarters.

The Coalition for Immokalee Workers boycott against Taco Bell has grown in the nearly 3 years since they announced such an action - from coast to coast, particularly among religious leaders AND college students..

Coalition members say that about 20 universities nationwide have thrown Taco Bell off their campuses, as a result of the student movement against the fast-food giant. And organizers say other colleges have expressed interest in doing the same......

And The Reverend Noelle Damico from the Presbyterians Church U.S.A. says that just amongst the religious community, fighting to improve the lives of farmworkers in South Central Florida has become the biggest issue in generations ( roll tape#5"respect human rights")

Laurie Shallow from Taco Bell insists that the boycott isn't hurting their business (roll tape#6 o.q." )

Shallow also says they would be disappointed if The CIW does NOT take up Yum Brands on their offer..

But according to The Coalition, talks are over for now, and the boycott continues and grows larger. Greg Asbed from the Coalition for Immokalee Workers is

(roll tape#6 o.q."shows us the intent of their offer in the 1st place")

Yum Brands CEO David Novak also announced last week that Yum Brands - which also owns Long John Silvers, Pizza Hut and A&W Root Beer restaurants, had 'an outstanding year' despite the war in the Middle East and a soft economy...Shareholders were rewarded with a 42 percent increase in their share price last year.......

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