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Human Rights Leaders Demand Largest Fast Food Company to Respect Workers' Rights; NCC Pres. Thomas J. Hoyt, Jr., to Participate in March 15 News Conference

March 12, 2004, IMMOKALEE, Fla. -- The Honorable Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, will join with leaders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the National Council of Churches USA, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Oxfam America to bring attention to human rights abuses of farmworkers in America’s fields. The human rights leaders will call on Yum Brands, the largest fast food company in the world and a major buyer of Florida produce, to guarantee the rights of workers in their supply chain and to help end the human exploitation occurring in the fields of Florida.

Yum Brands owns Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Long Johns Silver’s as well as Pizza Hut and many other fast food companies. Yum Brands buys 40 million pounds of tomatoes per year while farmworkers must pick two tons of produce in order to earn $50 per day. Over the past twenty-five years the piece rate for tomatoes has declined by 65%.

As a large institutional buyer Yum has the power to ensure that workers get their fair share. Ms. Robinson, CIW, NCC, the PC(USA) and Oxfam are calling on Yum’s CEO David Novak, its boards of directors and major investors in the company to exercise true corporate leadership by ensuring fairness for the rights of workers in their supply chains which includes respect for core labor standards.

Oxfam America will release two groundbreaking studies: “Trading Away Our Rights” which shows how the global supply chain is eroding labor rights in 13 countries covering 32 million workers and calls for corporate responsibility; and “Like Machines in the Fields” which exposes the denial of rights to U.S. farmworkers through discrimination in law and by a supply chain business model which generates profits by squeezing workers in the supply chain.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is the Florida-based farmworker organization spearheading the national Taco Bell Boycott.  The boycott seeks an end to conditions in East Coast tomato fields that run the gamut from sweatshops to slavery.  The boycott has won the support of the National Council of Churches and several of its member communions.  The NCC Executive Board, meeting February 23-24, set up a committee to monitor and report on the progress of boycott efforts and the response of Taco Bell and its parent company, Yum Brands.

CIW and supporters went on the road February 27-March 5 in a "Truth Tour" to demand that Taco Bell ensure that its suppliers don't mistreat their workers.  Click here for stories, photos from the 2004 Truth Tour.

MARCH 15 SPEAKERS:

  • The Hon. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Ray Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America
  • Bishop Thomas J. Hoyt, President of the National Council of Churches
  • The Rev. Noelle Damico, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • Lucas Benitez, Coalition of Immokalee Workers

WHEN: March 15, 2004 @ 10:30 am EDT

WHERE: 215-F West Main St., Immokalee, Florida

For more information please call Lyndsay Cruz at Oxfam America, 202-460-0760

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