Tuesday, December 10

Taco Bell may be back

ASUCLA board of directors supports eatery's return; negotiations to begin

The Associated Students of UCLA has taken the first step to
bring Taco Bell back to the UCLA campus.

The students’ association board of directors voted
unanimously at its Friday meeting to let ASUCLA management begin
negotiating with Taco Bell to bring the eatery back.

“It’s not a guarantee,” said Bob Williams,
interim executive director for ASUCLA. “I would say
it’s pretty certain that we’re going to bring Taco Bell
back based on initial discussions (with Taco Bell) and the board
supporting it.”

The earliest a finalized contract could be approved by the board
of directors is at their next meeting on May 20. Both the finance
and the services committees need to approve a new contract before
it is presented to the board.

The association will have at least finalized a contract with
Taco Bell or even have Taco Bell in an ASUCLA facility by the
beginning of the summer, said Emmanuel Martinez, undergraduate
representative on the board of directors and chair of the services
committee, in a phone interview.

ASUCLA ended Taco Bell’s contract in late October 2004
when the eatery did not submit a third-party review into alleged
unfair labor practices to the board of directors.

Student groups and farm workers advocacy groups had boycotted
Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands because it purchased
tomatoes from growers in Immokalee, Fla., who have been accused of
violating workers rights.

An accord was reached March 8 between the Coalition of Immokalee
Workers ““ a worker’s rights group which spearheaded the
boycott ““ and Taco Bell, satisfying the coalition’s
demands and ending the four-year boycott.

The agreement stipulates that Yum! Brands pay an extra penny per
pound surcharge to certain growers who agree to pass the surcharge
directly to farm workers. Originally, workers were paid 40 to 50
cents for each 32 pound bucket of tomatoes picked and by adding an
additional 32 cents for each bucket, worker wages are almost
doubled according to the CIW.

If an agreement is finalized, the eatery could most likely
appear in a permanent spot at the Cooperage after planned
renovations are completed, a change from Taco Bell’s old
location at Campus Corner on Bruin Walk, Martinez said.

“To bring Taco Bell to (Campus Corner) would be a
disservice to them, because it’s so old and needs to be
replaced,” he said.

Williams told the Daily Bruin in an April 7 article that the
Cooperage could be completely renovated as early as fall 2006 if
the SAFE referendum, which would increase student association fees,
is passed during the spring elections next week. Taco Bell’s
return would not be contingent on SAFE’s passage, Martinez

While the Cooperage is being renovated, Taco Bell could be
temporarily located at Campus Corner, Martinez said.

“We hope SAFE passes so we can get everything moving along
quickly,” he said.

Currently, Shorty’s Subs and Athena’s Mediterranean
Cafe, both ASUCLA-run eateries, occupy the Campus Corner location.
According to customer count reports, the number of customers at
Campus Corner for the month of April was about 60 percent less than
it was last April, when Taco Bell was still on campus.

At about 1:45 p.m. Friday, students from Bruins United, a new
slate created for the upcoming undergraduate student governments
elections, gathered at De Neve Plaza to show their support for the
board’s decision to start negotiation talks with Taco Bell,
and had over 70 students sign a “thank you” card that
was presented to the board after its closed executive session.

“I think (Taco Bell) should be rewarded by being allowed
back on campus,” said Bruins United general representative
candidate Brian Neesby. “We think it’s sending a
message (to other companies), and we get Taco Bell back, so
it’s a win for all.”

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