Alliance for Fair Food Letter to Retail Food Industry (2007)

[The following letter was sent to over 30 supermarket, restaurant, and foodservice companies in July 2007.]

July 20, 2007

Dear Sir/Madam:

We write you today as members of the Alliance for Fair Food, to encourage your company to take a leadership role in ending forced labor, poverty wages and other human rights abuses faced by farmworkers harvesting tomatoes for the retail food industry.

The Alliance for Fair Food is a broad network of human rights, religious, student and grassroots organizations that work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a farmworker organization in Florida, to promote principles and practices of socially responsible purchasing in the corporate food industry that advance and ensure the human rights of farmworkers.

There is a human rights crisis in Florida’s tomato fields and the situation of the farmworkers who harvest your company’s tomatoes is as urgent as it is appalling. The good news is that there is a proven model for change. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has reached agreements with both McDonald’s and Yum! Brands to work together to improve conditions and wages in the fields. The CIW-McDonald’s agreement, cemented on April 9, 2007, guarantees a penny more per pound to workers harvesting tomatoes for McDonald’s, a code of conduct based on the principle of worker participation, and a collaborative effort to develop a third party mechanism for monitoring conditions in the fields. It builds upon the agreement reached by the CIW and Yum! Brands in March of 2005 to make similar changes in Taco Bell’s supply chain. We now turn with expectation to your company for leadership in expanding the precedents established by the CIW, McDonald’s, and Yum Brands throughout the fast-food industry.

It is vitally important that your company take an active role in advancing human rights and fair wages for farmworkers because your company’s low-cost, high volume tomato purchasing practices help to create conditions in the fields where sub-poverty wages and other human rights abuses flourish. Through these purchasing practices, fast-food companies and supermarkets such as yours greatly profit from and are responsible for farmworker poverty and abuses. However, your company also has the power to rectify conditions and wages in your supply chain by working with the CIW to implement socially responsible purchasing practices, such as those exemplified by McDonald’s and Yum! Brands.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is an internationally recognized, human rights award-winning farmworker organization based in Immokalee, FL. It has organized more than 3,500 farmworkers, assisted the US Department of Justice and FBI in investigating and prosecuting cases of modern-day slavery, and has worked creatively and effectively with both Yum! Brands and McDonald’s. Working with the CIW will enable your company to ensure to your consumers that your company’s tomatoes are not picked by farmworkers who are exploited or enslaved, but instead that your company is part of the movement for fair food.

At the table are a proven model, the expertise of the CIW, and a tremendous opportunity to join two major fast-food corporations in advancing fair food. We urge you to meet as soon as possible with the CIW to discuss how your company can become a leader in socially responsible practices that ensure the human rights of farmworkers in your supply chain.

Sincerely,

Alliance for Fair Food Founding Committee
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights
National Social and Economic Rights Initiative
Student/Farmworker Alliance
Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida

Faith
Executive Council, The Episcopal Church
General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
Church World Service
Pax Christi USA
Sojourners
National Farm Worker Ministry
Interfaith Worker Justice
Tikkun Community/ Network of Spiritual Progressives
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice, Social Action Committee
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Agricultural Missions, Inc.
Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida
Catholic Diocese of Venice, Office of Peace and Justice
First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Gainesville, FL
Workers Interfaith Network (WIN)
Brother David Andrews, CSC
Arnold Nelson, Jr. President, Disciples Home Missions of The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the (U.S.A.)

Human Rights
Amnesty International USA
Global Rights
Oxfam America
Center for Constitutional Rights
School of the Americans Watch
U.S. Human Rights Network
Campaign for Labor Rights
International Federation for Human Rights

Labor
The American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Rights at Work
International Labor Rights Forum
United Workers Association

Student & Youth
United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)
Student Labor Action Project (SLAP)
United Students for Fair Trade
Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC)
Student Action with Farmworkers
Student/Farmworker Alliance of Central Michigan University

Community & Other
World Hunger Year
Family Farm Defenders
California Institute for Rural Studies
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
Workers Solidarity Alliance
Rainforest Action Network
Socialist Party USA
Other Worlds Collaborative
Just Harvest from Food to Fork
South Central Farmers Cooperative
Catalyst Project
Centro Hispano "Cuzcatlán"
McKinney Neighborhood Outreach
Minnesota Immigrants' Rights Action Coalition (MIRAc)
Witness for Peace Upper Midwest
Fair Food New York City
Lawrence Fair Food

* The letter was sent to the following companies:
Subway
Chipotle
Wendy's International, Inc.
Jack in the Box Inc.
Checker's Drive-In Restaurant, Inc.
Sodexho, Inc.
Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc.
Chick-fil-A, Inc.
Sonic Corporation
Denny's Corporation
CKE Restaurants (Carl´s Jr., Hardee’s)
Papa John's International, Inc.
International Dairy Queen Corporation
Focus Brands (Schlotzsky's etc.)
Domino's Pizza
Little Caesar's Enterprises, Inc. (Ilitch Holdings, Inc.)
SYSCO Corporation
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.,
Publix Super Markets Corporate Office
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
Safeway, Inc.
Supervalu, Inc. (Albertson´s, Jewel, etc.)
The Kroger Company
Ahold USA (Stop-n-Shop, Martin's, etc.)
Delhaize (Food Lion, Sweetbay, etc.)
Certified Grocers Midwest, Inc. (Fresh-brands, Piggly-wiggly, more)
Steak n Shake Company
TGI Fridays
Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, Inc.
Applebee's International, Inc.
Metromedia Company (Benigans, Ponderosa, Steak & Ale)
Brinker International, Inc. (Chili’s, Macaroni Grill, On The Border)
Lone Star Steakhouse
Outback Steakhouse

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1107 New Market Road :: Immokalee, FL 34142
(212) 253-1710 :: info(at)allianceforfairfood.org