April 22, 2012
Rev. Michael Livingston, National Council of Churches: Ahold's Standards of Engagement a table that "has only two legs. It cannot stand."
The NE Tour crew saved the best for last, as the final action of the Tour -- which took CIW members and allies to stops in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington DC to press supermarket giant Ahold and fast-food burrito king Chipotle to join the CIW's growing Fair Food Program -- combined a protest outside the Landover, MD, headquarters of the Giant supermarket chain (one of Ahold's two principal chains in the US) with a mini-reunion of fasters from last month's Fast for Fair Food, including the Rev. Michael Livingston (above, left), Director of the National Council of Church's Poverty Initiative.
It was a great way to wrap up a great tour, and you can see the photo update from the final action here. But before you go, we wanted to share an excerpt from Rev. Livingston's words at the rally following the action, including a powerful, and truly apt, metaphorical comparison of Ahold's empty promise of self-monitored social responsibility versus the very real partnership for farm labor rights being built today by farmworkers, growers, and participating retailers under the banner of the Fair Food Program:
"We know that the only way to ensure that justice prevails in the fields is through true partnership, verification and enforcement. Now that’s precisely what we have with the Fair Food Program. It is a collaborative partnership between buyers, growers, and farmworkers.; all the parties are at the table, there is a mutual accountability; the table is level and it stands firm on trust, verification, and enforcement.
Ahold’s “Standards of Engagement” don’t meet the same standard. The table has only two legs. It cannot stand. There is no mutual accountability and workers are vulnerable. We cannot expect a system that has regularly violated the rights and disrespected the humanity of farmworkers to do differently just because their business partners suggest they do so. Farmworkers have to be involved, the people who have the most at stake, the third critical leg.
Ahold/Giant is a “hold out corporation.” That’s what they are doing, holding out, stalling. What do corporations that have signed the Fair Food Agreement know that Giant doesn’t? I’ll tell you what: that change is gonna come. That this change is inevitable. That this will all be over one day and Ahold, and Giant will stand in line with other corporations who decided to act with integrity and sit at the table with farmworkers—a stable, a firm table where everybody seated is a child of God."
Now head on over to the photo report, and come back again soon for more from the Publix front, a great new article on the Fair Food Standards Council from the Sarasota Herald Tribune (oh, go ahead and check the article out now if you can't wait for our take on it...), and the next installment in the Top Ten List of Falsehoods, Fibs, and Fabrications in Chipotle's Answer to a Customer's Email about the Campaign for Fair Food!