Wednesday, May 22

Taco Bell agreement could bring chain back to UCLA


An accord reached between Taco Bell’s parent company and a
farmworker’s advocacy group which boycotted the restaurant
has left open the possibility for the popular eatery’s return
to campus.

Though there are no concrete plans to bring back Taco Bell
““ which reached a boycott-ending agreement with the Coalition
of Immokalee Workers last Tuesday ““ it is a possibility under
the conditions that the Associated Students of UCLA had with the
eatery.

“Basically if (Taco Bell) resolved the issue with the CIW,
then we would have no problem with them being on campus,”
said Yousef Tajsar, an undergraduate representative on the ASUCLA
board of directors.

But bringing Taco Bell back to UCLA depends on how bringing Taco
Bell would factor into ASUCLA’s financial plans as well as
its Food Service Master Plan, Tajsar said.

During Friday’s ASUCLA board meeting, interim executive
director Bob Williams said he is talking with Taco Bell
representatives, but it is not certain where Taco Bell would be
located if it returned. A Taco Bell spokeswoman said on Friday that
the chain is still willing to come back and do business with
ASUCLA.

Last Tuesday Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum! Brands,
ended the four-year boycott when it agreed to pay a penny per pound
surcharge for each bucket of tomatoes picked by workers in
Florida’s Immokalee region. Student groups at UCLA joined the
boycott last year and urged ASUCLA to end its contract with Taco
Bell.

The Social Justice Alliance, one of the leading UCLA groups that
called for Taco Bell’s removal from campus, has not formally
discussed as a group what they feel about Taco Bell’s
possible return but is happy that the CIW and Taco Bell have
reached an agreement.

“We’re excited about the boycott because it shows
that student action … helps to push things forward,” said
Christina Kaoh, a member of the Social Justice Alliance and the
Student Worker Front.

Taco Bell’s president said in a press release that the
company will only conduct business with Florida growers who agree
to support the penny surcharge that the CIW had been protesting for
since the beginning of the boycott.

The additional surcharge, which will go directly to workers,
almost doubles the wages earned for each 32 pound bucket picked,
said Julia Perkins, a spokeswoman for the Coalition of Immokalee
Workers.

The board of directors voted not to renew Taco Bell’s
contract at the end of October after the restaurant did not produce
a third party report investigating allegations of labor abuse by
the May 10, 2004 deadline.

Currently, two ASUCLA-run restaurants, Shorty’s Subs and
Athena’s Mediterranean Cafe, occupy the Campus Corner spot
where Taco Bell once drew long lines during the lunch rush.

However, the combined output of the two restaurants has been
considerably lower than Taco Bell’s performance in the
past.

For the period between Feb. 20 and March 26, Campus Corner
attracted $21,394 in revenue, while last year during that same
period when Taco Bell was still on campus, the location garnered
$39,629 in revenue.

Many students, like fourth-year computer science student Eric
Garthoffner, are encouraged by the prospect that Taco Bell could be
making a comeback.

“I think it’s great,” Garthoffner said.
“It was my go-to place on campus.”

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