From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Taco Bell boycott supporters stage hunger strike

Date 28 Feb 2003 15:42:59 -0500

Note #7612 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Taco Bell boycott supporters stage hunger strike
February 28, 2003

Taco Bell boycott supporters stage hunger strike

Fast-food giant refuses to meet with protestors

by Stephen Bartlett

Editor's note: About 60 members of the Coalition of Imokalee Workers have
been on a hunger strike outside Taco Bell's headquarters since Monday. Last
year's General Assembly endorsed the boycott of Taco Bell until the company
improves wages and working conditions for the workers who pick its tomatoes.
Taco Bell officials have refused to meet with the hunger strikers. Stephen
Bartlett, a member of Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church in Louisville, has
participated in the hunger strike. - Jerry L. Van Marter

IRVINE, CA - Squashed between a line of barricades overseen by a squad of
security guards and a glass tower zone housing insurance companies, five star
hotels and international banks stand a swarm of hunger strikers.

They are mostly farm workers from Immokalee, FL, but also students and
solidarity fasters including small farmers, clergy and base community
Christians from distant cities. 

They chant "Boycott Taco Bell" and wave signs with messages ranging from
"Honk for a Living Wage", "End Sweatshops in the Fields" and "Kentucky farmer
fasting in Solidarity."  

A long banner shows how many days this mass of people have been fasting;
today is Day 3 on water with lemon and a few drops of molasses.

The weather has been cold and windy with occasional downpours.	The fasters
have been wet and cold, since the police permit has required the protesters
to dismantle the tents erected on the sidewalk each day at dawn and has
subsequently banned any shelters from the elements in the lane which has been
closed down or on the sidewalk.

One might expect that spirits would be waning, but the lines of cars stopping
at the traffic light and passing pedestrians hear the volume of the voices,
the smiles and the laughter and often honk in solidarity shouts their

The workers understand that the ball is in Taco Bell's court and this hunger
strike is designed to raise the ante on the cause of getting Taco Bell to
take responsibility for the miserable wages and poverty of the workers who
pick their tomatoes.

I am fasting in solidarity, representing Agricultural Missions a ministry of
the National Council of Churches) and carrying endorsements from the
Community Farm Alliance and a New York State farm worker organization called
CITA.  I also represent KITLAC, the Kentucky Interfaith Task Force on Latin
America, who are coordinating actions at Yum Brands, Inc, Taco Bell's parent
company based in Louisville. 

The action in Kentucky is designed to coincide with the Feb. 28 Rally here in
Irvine at Taco Bell headquarters.

United Methodist, Catholic and Presbyterian pastors joined the fasters Feb.
26 to offer words of support and to state their conviction that the Bible
condemns those who do not pay a decent wage to farm laborers (James 5). 
Later, a Mexican indigenous family performed indigenous dances and spiritual
rituals of cleansing with COPAL incense.  Tents were then erected, sleeping
bags distributed and the fasters retired for the night.

This is the biggest labor hunger strike in U.S. history, with more than 50
fasters now in their 5th day on water, salt and lemon rations.	It is
exciting to be a part of it!

*** For instructions on using this system (including how to UNJOIN this
meeting), send e-mail to
Send your response to this article to

To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send an 'unsubscribe' request to

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home