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Activists Exploit Workers In Taco Bell Boycott Campaign
CorpWatch and other activist watchdogs are calling for a boycott of Taco Bell. The boycott campaign is being supported by groups such as Art and Revolution, the Ruckus Society and the Communist Party USA as well some student and religious organizations. The nominal complaint against Taco Bell is that they buy some of their tomatoes from the Six L's Packing Company in Florida, a state in which some firms have been accused of exploiting tomato pickers.

There is no question that there have been some serious abuses of agricultural workers in Florida. For example, in late 2002, the US Department of Justice obtained convictions and lengthy prison sentences against three men on charges including conspiracy to hold migrant farm laborers in involuntary servitude. However, the conspiracy involved neither Six L's nor the tomato industry although it was called to the attention of the Department by one of the watchdog groups involved in the boycott campaign.

Taco Bell has explained that Six L's has told them that their workers average about $9 an hour. Furthermore, Taco Bell has also explained that they are not in a position to control what Six L's pays their workers.

Instead of taking productive steps to improve the lives of migrant farm workers, such as working more closely with law enforcement officials and/or seeking regulatory changes, many of the groups involved prefer the less productive but far more media-centric approach of picketing Taco Bell. In short, migrant farm workers are being exploited by radical activist groups as part of their overall anti-capitalist rhetoric and fund raising campaign.

It appears that there could be an easy way for Taco Bell to end the boycott campaign. They could simply not buy tomatoes from Six L's or any other Florida packer. However, Winston does not see how the loss of jobs would help the Florida farm workers. Of course, since the real purpose of the boycott campaign is to generate publicity and funds by attacking a well known fast food company, a change in tomato suppliers is not likely to significantly change the anti-Taco Bell campaign. Winston hopes the farm workers appreciate the irony, their jobs are secure because many of their supposed defenders aren't really concerned about them in the first place.

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