U.S. Bishop Applauds Taco Bell Agreement

Pact Boosts Pay for Farmworkers

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Domestic Policy Committee hailed an agreement between Taco Bell restaurants and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers as “a step toward justice for farmworkers.”

In a statement released Monday, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said: “This is a great achievement for the Immokalee Workers who have turned their struggle for decent wages and human dignity into a national movement enlisting religious groups and colleges and universities across the country.”

“I welcome and applaud the groundbreaking agreement reached between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands,” he wrote.

“I also commend Taco Bell for their pledge to work with the coalition to address working and living conditions of agricultural workers in Florida and by funding a penny per pound pass directly to the workers,” the prelate continued. “Our conference, in response to the bishops of Florida, appealed to the leadership of Taco Bell to take this kind of action and to lead the entire industry by their example.”

Last week, Taco Bell announced it would spend an additional $100,000 a year on the tomatoes it buys under a deal with the workers coalition that had criticized the fast-food chain for not doing enough to help farmworkers.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group of mostly Latino laborers from the tomato-growing region around Immokalee, Florida, had sponsored a three-year campaign called the “Taco Bell Truth Tour.”

The effort asked people to stay away from Taco Bell and restaurants run by its Kentucky-based parent, Yum! Brands Incorporated, until the company pressured tomato growers to provide better wages and living conditions for farmworkers.

Bishop DiMarizo said in his statement: “Our hope is that this agreement will lead to other companies to take courageous actions with and for farmworkers all over this country who often work in abysmal conditions for very little pay. We pray this agreement will signal a new moment in the ongoing effort to bring greater justice to farmworkers.”

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