Coalition urges Taco Bell boycott
Members of Student Action with Farmworkers
demonstrated outside Taco Bell in Asheville, NC, on June 6,
2002, to call for wage increases and other labor rights for
Photo by Brendan Conley
By Brendan Conley
Asheville, NC, June 6 (AGR)— If you eat a Chalupa Supreme
for lunch, you may be helping to exploit farmworkers. That’s
the message of a coalition of students and farmworkers urging
a boycott of the Taco Bell restaurant chain.
Around 30 members of Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF)
marched in front of the Tunnel Road Taco Bell for about an hour
June 6, chanting and holding signs and banners. The protesters
handed out fliers reading, “Think twice before you enter,” and
displayed an altered restaurant logo reading, “Taco Hell.”
“We support farmworkers making a living wage,” said Melinda
Wiggins, an organizer with SAF. “The farmworkers who pick Taco
Bell’s tomatoes haven’t had a raise in 20 years.”
SAF is organizing in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee
Workers (CIW), a group based in Immokalee, Florida. According
to SAF, workers who pick tomatoes for Six L’s Packing Company,
one of the nation’s largest tomato producers and a contractor
for Taco Bell, are paid 40 cents for every 32-pound bucket they
pick. That is the same per bucket rate paid in 1978, the group
said. Workers picking for Six L’s are denied the right to organize
and the right to overtime pay for overtime work, according to
SAF. The farmworkers receive no health insurance, no sick leave,
no paid holidays, no paid vacation, and no pension, the group
Wiggins said SAF is targeting Taco Bell because it is the largest
buyer of tomatoes from Six L’s, and it is a visible consumer
outlet. Taco Bell maintains that because it does not employ
farmworkers, but simply buys tomatoes from Six L’s, it has no
“This is a labor dispute between the farmworkers and their
employer,” said Laurie Gannon, a Taco Bell spokesperson. “Our
policy is not to get involved in other companies’ labor disputes.”
Gannon said that Six L’s is not breaking any labor laws, and
if the workers don’t like it, they should go elsewhere. Taco
Bell restaurants are always hiring, she said.
SAF insists that Taco Bell could double the picking piece rate
paid to farmworkers by agreeing to pay one penny more per pound
for the tomatoes it buys from Six L’s. SAF, a Durham-based
group, coordinates summer internships for students to advocate
for farmworkers’ rights.
The group’s Tunnel Road protest drew an angry reaction from
the restaurant’s management and a mixed reaction from employees
and diners. Gary Higgins, an Asheville resident buying lunch
at the restaurant’s drive-through window, said the boycott would
not come between him and his chalupa. “[The protest] is not
fair to the business,” he said. “These people [protesters]
are usually misinformed anyway.”
Employees gathering outside to watch the protest were asked
“If you’re out there protesting, that means you’re strong
in what you believe,” said one worker. He was interrupted by
Ricky Deeter, a shift leader at Taco Bell, who said the conversation
would have to end.
“Our employees don’t talk about anything having to do with
Taco Bell,” he said.
Jury awards $4.4 million
in Bari case
Compiled by Kendra Sarvadi
June 12— On Tuesday, June 11, the jury deciding the
Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney federal civil rights lawsuit against
four FBI agents and three Oakland Police officers awarded the
plaintiffs $4.4 million for violation of the activists’ Constitutional
rights and returned a verdict largely in favor of Earth First!
activists Cherney and the late Judi Bari.
In a legal victory of historic proportions against the FBI,
the jury found that six of the seven defendants violated the
First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution by arresting
the activists, conducting searches of their homes, and carrying
out a smear campaign in the press, calling Earth First! a terrorist
organization and calling the activists bombers, in the aftermath
of the explosion of a bomb that was planted in Judi Bari’s car
in 1990. This verdict finds unlawful the actions of those in
charge of the bombing investigation, and vindicates Bari and
FBI agents Frank Doyle, John Reikes, Philip Sena and OPD officer
Mike Sims were found to have violated Bari and Cherney’s First
Amendment rights. In addition, OPD officer Michael Sitterud
was found to have violated Cherney’s First Amendment rights.
Doyle and OPD officer Robert Chenault were found to have violated
Bari’s Fourth Amendment rights related to the search of her
home, and Doyle and Chenault were found to have violated Cherney’s
Fourth Amendment rights. FBI agent Doyle and OPD officer Sims
were found to have violated Bari’s Fourth Amendment rights in
relation to her arrest. The jury returned an “undecided” verdict
with respect to violations of Cherney’s Fourth Amendment rights
for his arrest.
Of the $2.9 million in damages for Bari’s estate, $1.3 million
is punitive and $1.6 million compensatory.
The jury said Cherney should receive $650,000 in punitive damages
and $850, 000 in compensatory damages.
An attorney for the FBI agents said the government, which
had fought for 11 years to keep the case from going to trial,
indicated that an appeal is likely.
Attorneys for Cherney and Bari’s estate said the verdict should
serve as a warning as the FBI seeks broader powers for domestic
spying in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“The jury showed the rest of America that even in the face
of brutal terrorism we cannot discard the very civil liberties
that make the country great,” said attorney J. Tony Serra.
“The American public needs to understand that the FBI can’t
be trusted,” Cherney said. “Ten jurors got a good, hard look
at the FBI and they didn’t like what they saw.”
Cherney and Bari were injured when a pipe bomb exploded in
Bari’s Subaru station wagon while they were driving along Park
Boulevard in Oakland on May 24, 1990. Bari, who was at the wheel,
suffered a crushed pelvis, and Cherney received cuts from the
The two, who were on their way to speak at a rally to promote
Redwood Summer, an anti-logging civil disobedience campaign,
were arrested within hours, and their homes and vehicles were
Authorities then said they believed that Bari and Cherney were
carrying the bomb in her car and that it detonated accidentally.
Cherney and Bari later sued investigators, alleging false arrest,
illegal search, slanderous statements and conspiracy.
Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, www.judibari.org
North Carolina sued over
rejected waste dump
By Cat Lazaroff
Raleigh, North Carolina, Jun 4 (ENS)— Four southern
states and a regional waste commission are suing the state of
North Carolina for its opposition to a planned low-level radioactive
waste dump within North Carolina’s borders. The suit accuses
North Carolina of failing to meet its obligations as a member
of the Southeast Compact Commission, a group charged with building
the regional radioactive waste repository.
For full story please go to http//:www.ens-news.com