Thursday, June 16, 2011

Come on, Trader Joe's, do the right thing

Florida tomato workers' fortunes have improved, but Trader Joe's still refuses to sign an agreement that Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Sodexo, Whole Foods and other large fast food and food supply chains have already done.

The agreement would increase prices on winter tomatoes (October through May) by about a penny per pound, translating into thousands of dollars for workers that are essentially at the very bottom of the American workforce. Seriously — there are literally slavery rings being run in Florida, forcing people to pick tomatoes for no pay and not allowing them to leave.

By refusing to sign the agreement, Trader Joe's tacitly supports the working conditions.

Trader Joe's provides their reasoning here, alleging that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is spreading lies and defaming them. While they raise some worthwhile points, saying things like "no serious business would agree" to these terms is belied by the fact that Whole Foods as well as the major fast food chains (and their suppliers) all have.

When I canvassed, I dealt with a document from Trader Joe's legal team that was similarly combative, misleading and fundamentally misrepresenting the decisions made since Pruneyard, which makes me more suspicious of their document here.

I like Trader Joe's. I shop there pretty often. I'm going to talk to the store managers about this, and I encourage you to do so as well. While their letter concludes that they will not be pressured to agree to CIW's terms — as so many others have — I will be pressuring them, and depending on their reply, may make other arrangements for spending my money.

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