Burger King: a ‘Whopper’ suspect

Last April, days after McDonald’s agreed to pay farmworkers an extra penny per pound of picked tomatoes, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in Florida began to campaign against their new target, Miami-based Burger King.

Earlier in the year, Burger King refused to pay the additional cost for tomatoes.

Florida is the source of more than 90 percent of the fresh winter tomatoes produced in the United States. Tomato pickers earn about 45 cents for each 32-pound bucket they pick. An extra penny per pound raises the pay rate to about 77 cents per bucket.

CIW won concessions from Taco Bell after a four-year boycott. The coalition then targeted McDonald’s in 2005.

On May 11-12, the Student Farmworker Alliance organized more than 20 actions at Burger King sites across the country. Tom O’Brien, a protester, told one reporter, “Whoever uses tomatoes is suspect. Watch out Wendy’s. We’re coming.”

Students win worker justice

Following a series of protests at Stanford University, ending with the May 22 arrest of 11 students who were holding a sit-in at the president’s office, the university announced that they were affiliating with the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC).

The students with the Stanford Sweat-Free Coalition protested the university’s prior unwillingness to adopt guidelines aimed at cutting down on the use of sweatshop labor overseas. The WRC is an independent monitoring agency charged with investigating factory conditions in collegiate apparel-producing facilities.

So far, 30 major universities have already signed on to the guidelines, according to the United Students Against Sweatshops.

In April, Stanford students underwent a hunger strike organized by the Stanford Labor Action Coalition demanding higher wages for university contract workers.

Mamas walk for peace

On May 26, “Mamas Against Violence,” a local community group in South Bend, Ind., held their fifth annual walk and memorial service to remember those killed by violence there. The anti-violence advocacy group helps to support families victimized by community violence.

Marchers held signs of their loved ones and asked people to pray. “A lot of people shy away, saying, well I can handle it, and you know in the end you can’t if you don’t let it out and talk,” said Marva Newbill, who lost her son when he was killed in a carjacking.

Stand up against guns

A group of protesters led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a rally against gun violence in front of a gun shop in Riverdale, a suburb just south of Chicago, on May 26. The protesters said that weapons sold at the store have been used to commit community violence.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, members of law enforcement and others have long voiced concern that guns sold at about 10 stores just outside the city limits are finding their way into the hands of those using them inside the city.

Blair Holt, 16, died last May when he became the unintended target of a gunman’s rage on a city bus. His parents, Ronald and Annette Holt, joined the others in the protest.

“To all those parents watching me: It could be your child next. So you better stand up and do something now,” said Annette Holt. Jackson added, “These guns are killing our children. In Iraq, we’d call that an insurgent’s base. They’d close it down to protect the soldiers. Here it must be closed down to protect the children.”

stories on youth and student actions and issues are compiled by Pepe Lozano (plozano @pww.org)