One of the organizations that is doing great farmworker organizing and advocacy is the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, based out of Florida. They’ve uncovered countless cases of modern day slavery, and fought (and won!) against massive corporations to improve conditions for folks laboring in the fields in Florida. But right now, one of the stores that refuses to sign an agreement with CIW is….Trader Joe’s!
That’s why folks are holding a protest tomorrow (Thursday) at Trader Joe’s in Union Square. Here are the details:
Thursday, March 18
Trader Joe’s on 14th Street
And here are some more details about the campaign and Trader’s Joes intransigence to this point:
Grinding poverty leaves farmworkers vulnerable to further exploitation from employers. In the most extreme cases, forced labor. Since 1997, over 1,000 fruit and vegetable harvesters have escaped slavery rings, including both documented and undocumented workers as well as U.S. citizens in the agricultural fields of Florida (and the southeastern United States).
The Campaign for Fair Food aims to take a preventative approach by asking large corporations, like Trader Joe’s, to leverage their high volume purchasing power to pay a premium price for tomatoes as well as sign a human rights agreement (like large corporations – Whole Foods and Subway have done) to agree to more humane standards in the fields, including a zero tolerance policy on forced labor, that is created and implemented by the workers themselves.
Just Harvest USA has informed Trader Joe’s of these issues as well as identified stores carrying tomatoes from farms whose crew leaders were found guilty of slave labor in 2008. A year later, Trader Joe’s has responded with silence and continue to boast about the sustainability of its food.