2840 S. Vallejo St. Englewood, CO 80110 303.806.0818/303.789.3325 (fax)
October 3, 2006
Mr. Steve Ells
Chief Executive Officer
Chipotle Mexican Grill
1543 Wazee St., Suite 200
Denver, CO 80202
Dear Mr. Ells:
On behalf of Colorado Jobs with Justice, I write to urge Chipotle to improve its standards for growers that supply tomatoes to your company. Colorado Jobs with Justice is a coalition of some 40 community-, faith-based and labor organizations. Our focus is on workplace rights and economic justice. We belong to a national network (jwj.org) of similar coalitions in more than 40 cities in 25 states. Given your company’s mantra of “food with integrity,” we would hope that promise would extend to the treatment of your suppliers.
Last month our Steering Committee met with representatives of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). They had traveled from Florida to Denver to educate the public and mobilize support for their campaign for fair wages and working conditions in the fields. From those discussions it is our understanding that the 45-cent piece rate for which the workers toil today is no better than it was nearly 30 years ago. As if that isn’t sufficiently repugnant, we also learned that farm workers receive absolutely no benefits – no paid vacation days, no sick leave, and no health insurance. This is no mere labor rights issue; it’s a matter of human rights.
As local community members and consumers, we urge you to adopt a course similar to that of Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum Brands, which last year agreed to pay a penny a pound more for its tomatoes. That doesn’t seem like much to us but the pickers tell us it would nearly double their wages. We also ask your company to work with the CIW to strengthen their Supplier Code of Conduct.
If you’re serious about your mission of providing ethical food, you’ll want to do the right thing by your suppliers. What’s good for them is good for Chipotle. After all, if you don’t treat your workers with dignity, why would anyone believe your burritos contain even a pinch of your most vaunted ingredient: integrity?
Allison Halprin, Interim Executive Director