Central Michigan University has joined three other campuses in a growing U.S.-wide hunger strike to cut university contracts with Taco Bell, a fast-food franchise. Taco Bell is owned by Yum! Brands, which owns several other fast-food restaurants chains and has 30,000 franchises internationally.
Taco Bell uses tomatoes picked by farmers under exploitative conditions. Tomato pickers routinely work 12-hour days and would have to pick 2-tons of tomatoes to earn fifty dollars in a day. Workers have not received a raise since 1978 and continue to earn between 40 and 45 cents for each 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick.
The hunger strike comes just one week after a protest at the Mount Pleasant Taco Bell, and a series of hunger strikes by students at Nortre Dame University and Grand Valley State University.
The hunger strike will run concurrently with a strike at the University of Florida. CMU students will also spend the week of April 12 in a tent city.
The campaign against Taco Bell has been led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a Florida-based group of tomato pickers. Their Taco Bell Truth Tour is an annual tour raising awareness of the conditions of tomato pickers and to build support for their struggle.
[Students Against Sweatshops GVSU | Coalition of Immokalee Workers | Michigan IMC]