Category Archives: Labor Justice

LABOR JUSTICE: Ahold USA joins the Fair Food program

from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

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Wednesday’s big announcement of the CIW’s newest Fair Food agreement caused quite a stir in the media, mainstream and otherwise, as Ahold became the first mainline grocer to join the award-winning Fair Food Program.  From the Washington Post to Eva Longoria, everyone had something to say about the breakthrough agreement.  With a media round-up this big, we might as well just roll our sleeves up and dig into it, so away we go…

First up, the Associated Press sent the story out to hundreds of papers and television stations across the country.  Here, from the Seattle Post Intelligencer, is an example of the wire story than ran from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon…

Click here to read more.

REFLECTION: Giving thanks for the witness of César Chávez on his birthday

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“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” ~ César Chávez, March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993

LABOR JUSTICE: Fresh Market signs Fair Food agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

IMMOKALEE, FL (January 7, 2015) – The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Greensboro, N.C.-based The Fresh Market are proud to announce their national partnership to support fair farm labor conditions and verifiable, worker-driven social responsibility in US agriculture.

fairfood_icon_6002The collaboration breaks new ground in the CIW’s award-winning Fair Food Program in two significant ways. First, starting with the 2015-2016 season, The Fresh Market will increase its purchases by 15% year-over-year from Florida tomato growers participating in the Fair Food Program. This is an important new precedent that recognizes and supports growers who are making significant investments to improve labor conditions on their farms with increased market share.

Second, The Fresh Market will make an annual contribution to support the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC), the third-party monitoring organization that oversees compliance with the Fair Food Program’s unique human rights standards. The essential work of the FFSC includes investigating and resolving workers’ complaints, auditing farms for compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct, and enforcing the FFP’s standards. Through the FFSC’s diligent efforts, the Fair Food Program has become the gold standard for social responsibility in US agriculture, recognized by longtime labor and human rights observers as“the best workplace monitoring program in the US” and “one of the great human rights success stories of our day.”

“We are pleased to enter into this partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and to be a part of the Fair Food Program,” said Lee Arthur, The Fresh Market’s merchandising vice president – produce, floral and gift center. “We continuously look for ways to source the best products, and being a part of the FFP helps us to know we are sourcing from growers whose practices are fair and socially responsible. This allows us to provide our customers with food they can feel good about purchasing and enjoy sharing with friends and family.”

“This agreement truly takes the Fair Food Program to a new level,” said the CIW’s Guadalupe Gonzalo.  “The FFP is pioneering a new form of social responsibility, one in which we as workers ourselves take a leading role in protecting our own rights in the fields.”

“But we can’t do this alone,” continued Gonzalo. “The FFP is a day-to-day, careful partnership with growers and buyers alike aimed at ensuring that the workplace environment in Florida’s fields is second to none. We have achieved that goal. And now, with this agreement and its new provisions in support of participating growers and the Fair Food Standards Council – two elements essential to the Program’s success — we have laid the groundwork to sustain and scale up those gains well into the future.”

To learn more about the Fair Food Program, please visit www.fairfoodprogram.org

FARMWORKER JUSTICE: An open letter to the CEO of Wendy’s

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At the Wendy’s shareholders’ meeting last month, twenty of the most prominent religious leaders from a spectrum of faith traditions across the country —representing millions of people of faith — stepped to the fore, publishing a letter to CEO Emil Brolick, calling on him to “lead Wendy’s to be part of the common good.” Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Chrisi USA was one of the signatories. The letter is below…

Dear Mr. Brolick:

Nine years ago, as the CEO of Taco Bell, you pioneered a partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Florida growers that set in motion a new paradigm for human rights and corporate social responsibility.

For three years, the Fair Food Program has been in operation in over ninety percent of Florida’s 650 million dollar industry and the changes have been as comprehensive as they are breathtaking.  While for generations the Florida tomato industry was plagued by poverty wages, wage theft, sexual harassment and, in extreme cases, forced labor, those abuses are now not only being eliminated, but their root causes are being addressed through the Fair Food Program (FFP). The Program has been lauded by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the White House for its innovation, impact and sustainability, and has gained global recognition for the groundbreaking transformation it is creating in the fields through a unique collaboration.

Twelve corporations have joined the Fair Food Program, agreeing to pay a penny-per-pound premium to their Florida tomato suppliers that is passed on to workers through the growers’regular payroll process, and to purchase only from growers that uphold the Fair Food Code of Conduct. The largest global retailer, Wal-Mart, joined in January of this year and four out of five of our nation’s leading fast-food restaurants are already participating.

But not Wendy’s.  Instead Wendy’s has tried to give consumers the impression that it supports the changes achieved through the FFP while in fact continuing to do business as usual. By refusing to join its competitors in paying the penny-per-pound premium, Wendy’s gains an unconscionable cost advantage over the rest of the fast-food industry leaders. By refusing to commit to buy its Florida tomatoes only from growers complying with the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s perpetuates the old, “no questions asked”market for those growers unwilling to recognize the FFP’s human rights standards.

We are perplexed and alarmed at Wendy’s posture on this issue of basic human rights…

Click here to read the entire letter. 

LABOR JUSTICE: Pax Christi USA signs onto letter to Wendy’s CEO for farmworker justice

from Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida

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Last week at the Wendy’s shareholder meeting, a letter signed by some of the most prominent national religious leaders in the country was presented to executives and shareholders, saying:

“We are perplexed and alarmed at Wendy’s posture on this issue of basic human rights.

The call for society to recognize that our lives are intertwined, that our decisions and actions impact one another, and that we have a moral responsibility to ensure human well-being is as ancient as the command, “love thy neighbor.””

The letter was co-signed by Pax Christi USA Executive Director Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN.

Click here to see the entire letter.