Thursday, October 09, 2008

Farm Workers Get More From Food Buyers?

LABELLE, FL. -- Whole Foods Market, the world�s leading natural and organic foods supermarket and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the Florida-based farm worker organization spearheading the growing Campaign for Fair Food, announced recently that the two will work in partnership to help improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers.

The CIW has similar agreements with McDonalds, Burger King and Yum Brands. Whole Foods Market has a store in Naples. The question remains however, how the workers will receive the extra money. Packing plant officials say have nothing to do with the issue. The extra funds will go to an escrow account pending agreements on how to distribute the money.

According to the agreement, Whole Foods Market will support the CIW�s �penny-per-pound� approach for tomatoes purchased from Florida, with the goal of passing these additional funds on to the harvesters.

"With this agreement, the Campaign for Fair Food has again broken new ground," said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW.
"This is not only our first agreement in the supermarket industry but, in working with Whole Foods Market, we have the opportunity to really raise the bar to establish and ensure modern day labor standards and conditions in Florida."

"We commend the CIW for their advocacy on behalf of these workers," said Karen Christensen, Global Produce Coordinator for Whole Foods Market. "After carefully evaluating the situation in Florida, we felt that an agreement of this nature was in line with our core values and was in the best interest of the workers."

Additionally, Whole Foods Market is exploring the creation of a domestic purchasing program to help guarantee transparent, ethical and responsible sourcing and production, using the company�s existing Whole Trade Guarantee program as a model. Whole Trade Guarantee, a third-party verified program, ensures that producers and laborers in developing countries get an equitable price for their goods in a safe and healthy working environment. The goal is to purchase Florida tomatoes from growers that will implement a similar program. "We are especially excited about working with the CIW to develop this domestic �Whole Trade-type� program," said Christensen.

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