Saturday, May 24, 2008

Victory for Immokalee Workers


Sometimes it seems as though we're always on the defensive. From trying to stop walls being built in Palestine and Texas to trying to ensure that the Bush administration's captives in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere have access to some dignity and justice, it's a long and hard struggle just to ensure that communities around the world still have the rights that they've already won.

That's why the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their string of victories is so encouraging. For the uninitiated, the CIW represents farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida. The mostly immigrant workers have been picking tomatoes for years for a pittance - about $10-12,000 per year.

This wage is by and large set by the fast food companies that who hire the pickers. In 2005, the CIW launched a boycott of Taco Bell demanding that they pay one penny per pound more for tomatoes picked, an increase of over 70% in the workers' wages. Eventually, and in order to avoid the bad publicity that the boycott was generating, Taco Bell agreed to the demands. After Taco Bell, the CIW went after McDonalds, and in this case, McDonalds was so afraid of bad press that they acceded to the demands before the boycott was even in full swing. Just yesterday, the CIW was successful in their campaign against a third company, Burger King.

Congratulations to all who were a part of this struggle! And while life's challenges continue for us all, please take a moment to toast this victory (and any others you can think of) with the celebratory beverage of your choice.

Here's more on the struggle of the Immokalee Workers...

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