2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour!

WHEN: March 7th through March 21st, 2005

MAJOR RALLY TO BE HELD SATURDAY, MARCH 19th

WHERE: From March 7th to March 12th, over 100 farmworkers and their allies will travel north from Immokalee, Florida, stopping in major cities in the South and Midwest -- including Atlanta, Memphis, Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis -- on their way to Louisville, Kentucky, home of Yum Brands Inc., the world's largest restaurant company and the parent company of Taco Bell.

Then, during the entire week of March 13th to March 18th, the tour will hit Louisville, where farmworkers from Immokalee and their allies will hold an intensive week of educational events and actions in and around the city. Highlights will include a round-the-clock presence at Yum Brands, a "reverse reality tour" (a day-long bus trip by farmworkers through the neighborhoods of Yum Brands executives), a protest tour of Louisville Taco Bells, and the formation of a human chain from Yum Brands to nearby Unified Foodservice Purchasing Coop, the giant food purchasing coop that buys food for all five of Yum Brands' chains (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silvers, and A&W
Restaurants).

The tour will culminate with a mass rally on Saturday, March 19th, outside of Yum Brands' headquarters, where several thousand boycott supporters of all ages will gather for a day of music, speeches, and colorful theater in a carnival atmosphere.

For more details on the tour and how you can join us, either in Louisville or in one of the major cities where the tour will be stopping along the way, email us at workers@ciw-online.org, or visit the website at www.ciw-online.org .

BACKGROUND: For the past three years, farmworkers from Immokalee and their allies have crossed the country, carrying the truth about the sweatshop conditions behind the tomatoes in Taco Bell's products to communities from Tallahassee to San Francisco. Each year, the CIW's Truth Tours have culminated in major actions -- including a 10-day hunger strike in 2003 and a 3-day march in 2004 -- outside of Taco Bell's global headquarters in Irvine, California.

In the process, the Taco Bell Truth Tour has become a nationally-recognized annual event. Participants have included Tom Morello (formerly of Rage Against the Machine, today lead guitarist for Audioslave), Boots Riley (2003 Rolling Stone Magazine's Hip Hop
Artist of the Year), Dolores Huerta (co-founder of the UFW and
legendary champion of civil rights), Lila Downs (singer and Academy Award winner for the "Frida" soundtrack), Eric Schlosser (author of "Fast Food Nation"), and dozens of leaders from national religious bodies.

But this year, we are bringing the truth about farmworker poverty to the home of fast-food profits, Yum Brands Inc., the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Long John Silvers, and A&W Restaurants, with revenues of over $24 billion in 2003. Yum Brands is the largest restaurant company in the world, larger than McDonald's, and as such wields tremendous influence in the corporate food industry.

Through the unparalleled impact of the Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op (UFPC), the corporation that pools the buying power of Yum Brand's five major chains and leverages that power to obtain the lowest prices possible for its client chains, Taco Bell and Yum Brands exert a strong downward pressure on their suppliers' prices. In agriculture, this translates directly into a downward pressure on the wages and working conditions for farmworkers.

As major buyers of Florida tomatoes, Taco Bell and Yum Brands have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to influence the way workers are treated in their suppliers' operations. Yet after more than three years of a strong and growing national boycott, Yum Brands still refuses to take concrete, measurable steps to address the brutal labor conditions in its tomato supply chain -- conditions that include sub-poverty annual wages, no right to overtime, no right to organize, a per bucket piece rate that hasn't changed significantly since 1978, no sick leave, no health insurance, and no benefits whatsoever.

Support for the boycott is expanding at a rapid pace across the country, particularly on college campuses, where the Student/Farmworker Alliance's "Boot the Bell" campaign has become one of the fastest growing movements for social justice today. Most recently, UCLA and the University of Notre Dame have moved to end their relationships with Taco Bell in response to student support for the boycott. They join 18 other schools in an unprecedented wave of student-led activism, demanding that Taco Bell clean up human rights abuses in its supply chain if it is to do business on their campuses.

For more on the Taco Bell boycott and details on the upcoming 2005 Truth Tour, go to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' website at www.ciw-online.org

Support farmworkers, Boycott Taco Bell! www.sfalliance.org