Whole Foods, CIW agree to "work in partnership to help improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers"!...
Update #1: What they are saying about the Whole Foods agreement: The CIW's latest agreement has provoked a good deal of commentary around the country, from Congress to the Presbyterian Church. Here's a sampling of the sentiment:
Eric Schlosser, author Fast-Food Nation: "Sustainable agriculture is impossible without justice for farmworkers. Whole Foods deserves great credit for recognizing this fact."
For more from Eric on the question of sustainable and fair food, click here for a great short video interview shot for the environmental blog grist.com during last week's Slow Food Nation gathering in San Francisco.
And click here for a good story from grist on the agreement.
US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT): "I am delighted Whole Foods has joined the effort to make sure tomato pickers receive a fair wage for their very difficult work. It is especially exciting that Whole Foods is the first grocery store chain to come on board, which opens the door for other major chains to do the same."
Regarding the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange's (FTGE) continuing opposition to the CIW's agreements and decision to stand in the way of efforts by large tomato buyers to fund the long-overdue raise for the Florida workers who pick their tomatoes, Sen. Sanders said he was planning to address the FTGE's resistance with the help of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"This whole country will see that what the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange is doing - how they are behaving - is an outrage," he said.
RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights: "It is our hope that other retail food companies -- companies like Chipotle, who shares Whole Foods' commitment to sustainable food but has yet to make that commitment real when it comes to farm labor, and companies like Subway and Walmart, who buy such large quantities of tomatoes that their responsibility for the exploitation of farmworkers surpasses that of most retail leaders -- follow these powerful examples of social responsibility,” said Monika Kalra Varma, Director of RFK Center. “With their participation, the CIW and its allies will truly be able to transform the industry to bring an end to modern-day slavery and human rights violations in our agricultural fields." Read the RFK Center statment in its entirety here.
The Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): "On behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) I want to commend the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Whole Foods Market on their agreement to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers in the Florida tomato fields. By voluntarily stepping forward, Whole Foods Market has signaled that “the time is now” for members of the grocery industry to join in forging a more just and sustainable food system together with the farmworkers..."
"...As the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lauds this agreement, we take this opportunity to call on the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to repent; to cease obstructing the penny wage increase from getting to the farmworkers and to become a part of this historic movement for a more just and humane food system. Major corporations in the retail food industry are prepared to do their part, consumers are urging this change and justice for farmworkers is generations overdue. What is missing is the commitment of the leadership of the tomato industry."