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A Resolution of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. To Endorse the Taco Bell Boycott Called by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Adopted Nov. 6, 2003, by the NCC General Assembly
Meeting in Jackson, Miss.

Whereas, all people have been created in the image of God, redeemed through Jesus Christ, and called to share in a ministry of reconciliation that shapes our world according to God's intention of shalom;

Whereas, fasting is a sign of repentance as well as a spiritual practice that helps us to see God's vision for our world more clearly and to identify the grave injustices around us, refraining from patronage in response to unjust practices can likewise be an act of repentance through which we acknowledge and take responsibility for our participation and complicity in such injustice, and act with God to transform our world;

Whereas, farm workers earn sub-poverty wages for picking tomatoes used in Taco Bell food products. According to the Department of Labor, their average wage (40 cents per 32 pound bucket) has not changed in more than twenty years;

Whereas, some farm workers picking tomatoes have been held in debt-bondage slavery;

Whereas, farm workers are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act and therefore lack access to the means other workers have for addressing workplace problems;

Whereas, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has called for a consumer boycott of Taco Bell restaurants and products;

Whereas, the 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Twenty-third General Synod of the United Church of Christ have endorsed this consumer boycott;

Whereas, the NCCC through its policy statements, resolutions and the accompaniment of the National Farm Worker Ministry has consistently supported the right of farm workers in their efforts to win just wages and working conditions and a voice in the workplace;

Whereas, at the November 2002 meeting of the NCC Executive Board unanimously called for the issues behind the Taco Bell boycott to be reviewed and reported to the next meeting of the Executive Board;

Whereas, at the February 2003 meeting the NCC Executive Board voted to study the issues behind the boycott and invite the member communions similarly to study the issues by: (a) using resources prepared by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, the National Farm Worker Ministry, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; (b) speaking with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and with Emil Brolick, president of Taco Bell; and (c) prayerfully engaging these issues from their own tradition's teachings and witness so as to be prepared to make a recommendation on the boycott to the General Assembly for action at the November 2003 meeting;

Whereas, in February 2003 the Executive Board unanimously adopted a resolution of support of and pastoral concern for the CIW workers who were on a hunger strike outside of Taco Bell's worldwide office in Irvine, CA;

Whereas, General Secretary Bob Edgar designated Noelle Damico of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to dialogue on his behalf with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and with Emil Brolick, president of Taco Bell about the Executive Board's resolution;

Whereas, Mr. Brolick has not to this time responded to either Mr. Edgar's immediate verbal request for a meeting with Noelle Damico or his written request in February 2003 for an appointment for himself and the heads of the Council's member denominations at Mr. Brolick's earliest convenience to discuss issues related to the boycott;

Whereas, on Ash Wednesday 2003 the General Secretary, President, and President Elect of the NCC sent a letter respectfully requesting that the workers cease their hunger strike and allow the church to carry forward their struggle that was copied to Mr. Brolick;

Whereas, member communions have been prayerfully engaging these issues from their own traditions' teachings and witness and with information provided by the NCC;

Therefore be it resolved that the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. General Assembly endorses a boycott of Taco Bell restaurants and products until such time as Taco Bell

  • convenes serious three-way talks between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, representatives of Taco Bell, and their tomato suppliers to address exploitation and slavery in the fields, and
  • contributes to an immediate increase in farm worker wages through an increase in the per pound rate it pays for tomatoes, and
  • works with the CIW, tomato industry representatives and tomato suppliers to establish a code of conduct that would ensure workers' fundamental labor rights by defining strict wage and working condition standards required of all Taco Bell suppliers.

Be it further resolved that the Assembly requests each communion to submit a record of their activities on this issue to the NCC annually.

Be it finally resolved that a monitoring committee, appointed by the President of the NCC that consists of both staff and elected representatives, be constituted to consult with the CIW in the monitoring of the boycott, to give regular reports to the Executive Board and to make final recommendations for the termination of the boycott when appropriate conditions have been met.

Submitted by: Justice and Advocacy Commission