Would you be willing to spend 1/4 cent more for your taco if you knew it meant hundreds of farmworkers could earn a living wage? Taco Bell doesn't think so, but I do. Oxfam America is mounting a powerful campaign to pressure Taco Bell into paying just one penny more per pound to tomato pickers in Florida, and they need your help.
Currently tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida earn 40-50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick. Farmworkers must pick two tons of tomatoes to make just $50. If Taco Bell, one of the largest buyers of Florida tomatoes, paid just one penny more per pound, tomato pickers' piece rate wages would nearly double.
The appallingly low wages earned by farmworkers is only part of the story. Farmworkers throughout the United States are continually denied the most basic human rights, rights that workers in other industries take for granted -- the right to organize, the right to fair wages and the right to decent working conditions. Incredibly, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has uncovered cases of workers in the fields actually being enslaved.
This is important, because issues such as fair trade and living wages have been characterized by their opponents as elitist, because raising wages raises prices, which are passed on to consumers. But what is important here is to note that the rise is miniscule: a quarter of a penny more for a taco is not going to price out even low-income consumers. The myth that justice is too expensive is easily exploded.
You can help! As a concerned consumer please take a moment to email Mr. Novak, CEO and Chairman of Yum Brands -- parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut. Tell him that his company's Supplier Code of Conduct contains no enforcement mechanisms and is woefully inadequate, lacking protections for farmworkers' fundamental rights, including the right to a living wage and the right to organize.
Click here to send a message that you care about where your food comes from and that the people who provide it are treated with dignity and fairness. Just food just tastes better.