The Student/Farmworker Alliance, in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), is calling on food service industry leaders Aramark and Sodexo to do their part to end the exploitation of farmworkers in their supply chains! Add your voice to this call today by sending a message to executives at Aramark and Sodexo!
Sample Letter for Campaign
Subject: End the Harvest of Shame
Dear [ Decision Maker ] ,
Robert Dennill, Associate Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility Aramark 1101 Market St. Philadelphia, PA 19107
Michel Landel, Chief Executive Officer Sodexo 255, quai de la Bataille de Stalingrad 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux France
Arlin Wasserman, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship Sodexo 9801 Washingtonian Blvd. Gaithersburg, MD 20878
As concerned students and community members, we urge your companies to follow the recent example set by Compass Group North America in working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to eliminate human rights violations in its tomato supply chain.
According to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, "the norm is a disaster, and the extreme is slavery" for tomato harvesters in Florida's fields. The tomato picking piece rate has remained stagnant since 1980. A worker today must pick and haul roughly two and a half tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage for a typical ten-hour day. These wages -- combined with the precarious and seasonal nature of farm labor -- result in workers' sub-poverty annual earnings and create an environment where horrific forms of labor abuse flourish.
In the extreme, workers face situations of forced labor. The CIW -- a Florida-based human rights organization leading the movement to reform the state's farm labor relations -- has aided the US Department of Justice in the successful prosecution of seven modern-day slavery cases involving a total of more than one thousand farmworkers in the past decade.
On September 25, the CIW and Compass Group North America announced sweeping changes to improve tomato harvesters' wages and working conditions. Compass is the first major foodservice provider to join Yum Brands, McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Whole Foods Market and Bon Appetit Management Company in partnering with the CIW to address the human rights crisis in Florida's fields.
Now we turn to your companies. Aramark and Sodexo claim to adhere to high standards of corporate citizenship and social responsibility, and to hold your suppliers to those same standards.
With news of the Compass agreement, your companies can no longer claim that they meet the highest ethical standards. We expect that Aramark and Sodexo will follow suit and establish agreements with the CIW with all due diligence to demand those same higher standards of your tomato suppliers. Until that time, however, we have no choice but to intensify our educational efforts to inform our campuses and communities of Aramark's and Sodexo's role in prolonging Florida's harvest of shame.
Sincerely, Campaign Launched:
October 13, 2009
On September 25, 2009, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW; a Florida-based worker-led farmworker organization) and Compass Group North America (parent company of campus food service provider Chartwells) announced sweeping changes to improve tomato harvesters' wages and working conditions. The groundbreaking agreement signals, in the words of US Senator Bernie Sanders, "the beginning of the end of the harvest of shame that has existed for far too long in Florida's tomato fields."
Farmworkers who pick tomatoes for the corporate food industry are among the country's worst-paid, least protected workers. They earn about 45 cents for every 32-lb. bucket of tomatoes they pick -- a rate that has not changed significantly in 30 years -- working from dusk to dawn without the right to overtime pay. They receive no benefits and are excluded from the right to organize. In the most extreme cases, workers are held against their will by their employers through threats or violence. There have been seven federal prosecutions by the Department of Justice for forced labor in the Florida agricultural industry in the past eleven years, involving a total of well over one thousand farmworkers.
Through an alliance of farmworkers and consumers, the CIW has reached historic agreements with Yum Brands (parent company of Taco Bell), McDonald's, Burger King, Whole Foods, Subway, food service provider Bon Appetit, and Compass to directly improve farmworker wages and working conditions and set new standards for social responsibility in Florida agriculture.
Aramark and Sodexo, however, have refused to come to the table and work with the CIW.
While farmworkers toil in poverty and endure human rights abuses, students have little to no say in where the food on their campuses comes from and under what conditions it was produced, or in the procurement policies of their universities and the corporations they contract with.