What They're Saying
Andy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal, 1/11/11
"...Obviously, my hero in the business world has been and will always be George Jenkins, 'Mr. George,' the founder of Publix and my grandfather. He was a genius with the unique ability to combine a keen business sense with his love and appreciation for people... and his desire to help others... George Jenkins set a wonderful example for me and taught me many valuable lessons, but the one that stands out, and the one I think about most often is very simply, 'don’t let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing.'"
– Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw ("Ed Crenshaw of Publix: 'Doing the right thing' a top priority," Tampa Business Journal, 2/1/10)
"'We don’t have any plans to sit down with the CIW,' Publix’s Media and Community Relations Manager Dwaine Stevens said... 'If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business. Maybe it’s something the government should get involved with.'"
– Publix spokesperson Dwaine Stevens ("Protesters picket Publix’s Saturday grand opening over labor issues," The Bulletin [Baldwin County, AL] 12/11/10)
"We have stayed out of Fair Trade. We believe that those are issues that need to be handled outside of our arena. We are not involved. We encourage the parties to come to the table and have those discussions and our job, at the end of the day, is to be a responsible supplier to our customers, be an outlet. We do not engage in this regard. We are very respectful. We don’t like anybody coming into our house telling us how to do business. We don’t go into other people’s and do that, but we do establish the relationships for the long-term. It’s not uncommon for you to go to our suppliers that we have worked with for 30, 40, some 50 years, and still remember Mr. George."
– Publix spokesperson Maria Brous (Produce Business Journal, May 2009)
"Publix’s sales for the first nine months of 2010 were $18.8 billion, a 3 percent increase from last year’s $18.2 billion."
– Publix press release, 11/1/10
"On November 16, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, which represents all of Ahold's major tomato growers and suppliers, announced an agreement with the CIW to accept the CIW's Fair Food Code of Conduct... We will not, therefore, participate with the Growers' employees in CIW's proposed penny-per pound program."
"Net sales of $23.5 billion increased by 5.1% when compared to the adjusted full year 2009 sales."
"'The impact of the penny per pound is a minimal addition to our purchase,' Ms. Christensen said. 'We have not seen a noticeable impact on the consumer.'"
"'Having a food system that keeps prices artificially low by enslaving workers is not acceptable,'" Ms. Greenwalt said."
"For Jon Esformes, operating partner of Pacific, the announcement was a chance to acknowledge the industry's sins and promise to help transform the future. Quoting the late philosopher and rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Esformes said, 'Few are guilty, but all are responsible. ... The transgressions that took place are totally unacceptable today and they were totally unacceptable yesterday.'"
"As we move forward, we can be certain that labor complaints will continue to arise in the foreseeable future, but it is how we deal with these complaints in this new partnership that will serve to demonstrate that we are serious and that our approach is working. As time goes by, we are confident that we will be able to weed out the bad actors and, working together, build a stronger, more sustainable industry that will be better equipped than ever to thrive in an increasingly competitive market place."
"'We hope that socially responsible businesses will purchase tomatoes from our growers and not cheaper tomatoes from Mexican farm competitors,' said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a trade association that represents 80 percent of the state’s tomato farmers. 'Everybody in the system has to be invested for it to work.'"
"All of us have a responsibility to bring this practice to an end... And we can’t just blame international organized crime and rely on law enforcement... It is everyone’s responsibility. Businesses that knowingly profit or exhibit reckless disregard about their supply chains... all of us have to speak out and act forcefully."
"...and to get businesses to understand that they have a responsibility. There's no way on earth the Department of Labor could be at every worksite and monitor every employer... I think more education, letting the public know where their vegetables come from, who picks them under what conditions, I think sometimes the consumer and the publicity behind it has a bigger impact than any law I can enforce."
Observers & Analysts
"For those who have followed CIW’s decade-long fight to raise farmworkers’ sub-poverty wages and remedy oppressive working conditions—including slavery—this agreement marks the moment when a wall of denial maintained by the Florida agricultural industry came tumbling down... With this agreement, a new standard for social responsibility and accountability in Florida’s tomato industry is set. There is no more room for denial, no more room for excuses. These two partners have finally opened the new chapter in Florida agricultural history that CIW has long been fighting for."
"Unfortunately, that message has yet to sink into the major supermarkets that sell most Americans their food. Despite years of efforts, chains such as Publix, Ahold, Kroger and Trader Joes ignore the CIW’s requests. That is soon going to get harder to do."