IMMOKALEE, FL: Labor-rights group The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) announced an end to its three-year boycott of Taco Bell last week after winning financial concessions from the company.
The CIW had generated national media coverage by picketing shareholder meetings, holding hunger strikes, and staging "Truth Tours" to promote their cause. The boycott attracted public support from celebrities such as Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon, as well as dozens of labor unions and religious groups. Student groups persuaded several universities to reject Taco Bell franchises on their campuses.
Taco Bell agreed to pay an extra penny per pound of tomatoes it buys from the low-paid Florida workers. Yum! Brands, the restaurant's parent company, also pledged to persuade others in the industry to follow its lead.
"We've had enormous support, growing from the faith-based community to students to celebrities," said CIW co-director Lucas Benitez. "There's no doubt that this played a large role in bringing us to the point where we are."
Taco Bell held a joint press conference with the CIW to announce the boycott's end. The company also issued a press release and internal communications to both employees and franchisees to advise them of the agreement.
"We're not using it as a marketing opportunity," said Taco Bell PR manager Sally George. "It's really more that it's the right thing to do."