FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHILADELPHIA, PA, April 1, 2010 – The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and ARAMARK have reached an agreement to address farmworker wages and working conditions in the tomato fields of Florida. Similar to those previously reached between the CIW and other food service and restaurant groups, the agreement establishes a supplier code of conduct developed and implemented with input from farmworkers themselves. ARAMARK will also pay a 1.5-cent premium for every pound of tomatoes picked, with the premium to be distributed directly to harvesters.
As a result of this agreement, ARAMARK, along with other CIW partner companies, will steer its tomato purchases toward those growers who make a genuine effort to meet higher labor standards and away from any grower who is found to be associated with abusive labor practices.
Independent discussions between ARAMARK, the Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA), the CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE) have explored wage and working conditions of Florida tomato farm workers. As a result of these discussions, ARAMARK has signed this agreement, supporting the CIW’s Fair Food Program. “We have addressed concerns about these issues with our major suppliers and, amongst other things, have put processes in place that will demand greater transparency in our purchasing channel as a step to working together as an industry to better improve working conditions,” said Robert Dennill, Associate Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for ARAMARK.
“We are happy to be working with an industry leader like ARAMARK to advance fundamental human rights in Florida’s fields,” said Lucas Benitez of the CIW. “Social responsibility takes a genuine, sustained engagement with workers and growers, and a determination to support, with increased business, those growers who agree to comply with the highest standards.”
“Together with ARAMARK and our other partners, we are building a system of real accountability, with tangible consequences for growers who fail to protect farmworkers’ basic rights,” continued Benitez. “It is our belief that such accountability, with worker input, will be the foundation for lasting improvements in the industry.
About Coalition of the Immokalee Workers (CIW)
The CIW (www.ciw-online.org) is a community-based farmworker organization headquartered in Immokalee, Florida, with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance with national and international labor standards. Among its accomplishments, the CIW has aided in the prosecution by the Department of Justice of six slavery operations and the liberation of well over 1,000 workers.. The CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food has won unprecedented support for fundamental farm labor reforms from retail food industry leaders, with the goal of enlisting the market power of those companies to demand more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers.
ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. The company is recognized as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by the Ethisphere Institute, as the industry leader in FORTUNE magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies,” and as one of America’s Largest Private Companies by both FORTUNE and Forbes magazines. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 255,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. Learn more at the company’s Web site, www.aramark.com, or www.twitter.com/aramarknews.