Would you be willing to pay a fourth of a penny more for your chalupa if it meant that farm workers could earn a living wage? That's the question the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (www.ciw-online.org) is asking in its campaign against Taco Bell. Six L's Packing Company, one of the nation's largest tomato producers and a contractor for Taco Bell, pays its pickers 40 cents for every 32-pound bucket they bring in. At that rate, workers must pick 2 tons of tomatoes to make $50 a day. Six L's makes about 35 cents per pound when they sell to Taco Bell.
Taco Bell could double the picking piece rate paid to farm workers by agreeing to pay one penny more per pound for the tomatoes it buys from Six L's. Taco Bell representatives say that farm worker wages have nothing to do with them. They just buy the tomatoes. Tricon Inc., Taco Bell's parent company (along with Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken), raked in $22 billion last year. Tricon's CEO, David Novak, has an annual salary and benefit package equaling about $2.7 million. It's time for Taco Bell to wake up and smell the salsa.