USA: Fair Food Coalition urges Ahold, Publix, Wendy's & others to sign pact on tomato farm workers' rights
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and its allies have long urged companies that source from Florida tomato farms to sign the Fair Food agreement, which gives workers greater protections against forced labour and other abuses, and guarantees them a living wage. Many companies have signed the agreement, including restaurant chains Burger King, Chipotle, McDonald's, Subway, and YUM! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell); food service firms Aramark, Bon Appetit/Compass and Sodexo; and supermarkets Trader Joe's, Walmart and Whole Foods, as well as the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. Publix supermarkets, Wendy's (fast food chain) and Ahold, which owns Giant and Stop & Shop supermarkets, have refused to sign.
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Author: [opinion] Holly Burkhalter, International Justice Mission, in Washington Post
Since 1997, the Justice Department has prosecuted seven cases of slavery in the Florida agricultural industry — four involving tomato harvesters — freeing more than 1,000 men and women. The...catalogue of horrors: abductions, pistol whippings, confinement at gunpoint, debt bondage and starvation wages...Today, virtually all Florida tomato growers have joined the Fair Food Program, which includes a code of conduct outlawing debt bondage and requiring humane conditions...Shade stations, toilets and drinking water are appearing...[R]etailers, pressed by consumers and civil society groups [led by Coalition of Immokalee Workers], saw the market and publicity benefits of ethical buying practices...But the Fair Food Program won’t be sustainable unless...grocery stores — [join]...Despite years of pressure...major supermarket chains including Ahold, Kroger’s and Publix have snubbed the Fair Food Program...[and its system of] independent monitoring and evaluation. [also refers to Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King, Whole Foods, Aramark, Compass]