Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Agreement For Immokalee Farmworkers

I wrote last week about the plight of Florida's Immokalee Farmworkers who formed the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and organized a boycott of Taco Bell to put pressure on the fast-foot company Yum Brands Inc. to improve working conditions.

Today, the Washington Post reports that an agreement has been reached and the Coalition has called off the boycott.

In what both sides called an unprecedented agreement, the fast-food company said it will increase the amount it pays for tomatoes by a penny per pound, with the increase to go directly to workers' wages. Taco Bell said it will help the farmworkers' efforts to improve working and living conditions.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an advocacy group made up largely of indigent immigrants who work tomato fields in southwest Florida, and representatives of Taco Bell and its corporate parent, Yum Brands Inc., announced the agreement at a news conference at Yum headquarters in Louisville. The farmworkers had traveled there for a protest on Saturday.

Although they praised the outcome, both sides stressed that the fast-food industry as a whole needs to do more. "Now we must convince other companies that they have the power to change the way they do business and the way workers are treated," said Lucas Benitez, a founding member of the workers coalition

There is more information on the agreement at the Coalition's website.