10/4/08 BREAKING NEWS: Chipotle makes 11th hour offer on eve of Tour; CIW says Chipotle plan “just not credible”

On the eve the 2008 Chipocrisy Tour, the CIW received an email from Chipotle, containing a letter signed by Chipotle CEO Steve Ells. The letter describes several measures Chipotle says it will undertake in response to the Campaign for Fair Food.

In its letter, Chipotle says that it will, among other things, begin to “pay an additional penny per pound for all the tomatoes that it purchases from its Florida suppliers,” as well as “pursue tomato suppliers who are not members of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange and who will pay… the additional penny per pound.”

After reviewing the letter, the CIW has responded. Here is that response:

“It’s good to see that Chipotle has finally — after several years of ignoring the dire human rights crisis in Florida’s fields — come around to recognizing the need for change,” said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. “But it’s not enough to simply recognize the problem, you also have to do the honest, hard work of sitting at the table and hammering out a workable solution, and this is far from a workable solution.”

“As farmworkers — the human beings actually suffering the poverty wages and labor abuses every day in the fields — we have no role in Chipotle’s plan,” continued Reyes. “Under their plan, Chipotle will review its own code of conduct and decide if any changes are appropriate, Chipotle will oversee its own payments under its penny per pound plan, and Chipotle will verify its own compliance with the changes it is proposing. That’s just not credible. Transparency, verification, and participation are essential elements of the agreements we have reached with other fast-food leaders, and they are essential elements in any defensible definition of social responsibility. There’s not even any defined commitment to Chipotle’s plan. How long will this be the company’s policy? From this point forward? A couple of seasons? Long enough for public scrutiny to blow over?”

Reyes concluded, “Now that they’ve recognized the problem, it’s time for Chipotle to move beyond public relations, work with us in good faith to forge a practical solution, and live up to the true meaning of their marketing slogan, ‘Food with Integrity.”

And so, the 2008 Chipocrisy Tour continues…