Monday, October 5, 2009

"Greatest Victory for Farmworkers since Cesar Chavez in the 1970s"

As this blog noted earlier, on September 25, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Compass Group, and East Coast Growers announced "sweeping changes to benefit tomato harvesters" at a press conference in the nation's capital! Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis attended the event, lending firm support to the Campaign for Fair Food.

Not only has Compass, the world's largest food service provider, embraced the principles of the Campaign for Fair Food - representing another major victory for the CIW in and of itself . . .

. . . But finally - for the first time - farmworkers, retail food leaders and growers are working together as true partners in the protection of farmworker rights. The vision so relentlessly pursued by the CIW of an agricultural industry in which farmworkers are not treated as machines to be exploited but as equals who have a rightful voice in the decisions which impact their lives, is finally beginning to come to fruition!

That is why Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser said of the agreement: "There's no question that this is the greatest victory for farmworkers since Cesar Chavez in the 1970s."

To see what others are saying go to the CIW website ( For all the details about the agreement read the joint press release. Also be sure to check out the CIW's exclusive photo report from the event.

To conclude, we'd like to highlight one statement from the press conference - that of Rev. Noelle Damico of the Prebyterian Church (USA) - which illuminates so well the failings of other food companies who have recently made big new claims to supporting the rights of farmworkers:

"The mutual respect that is demonstrated in this agreement [between CIW, Compass and East Coast Growers] and at this signing is the fuel that will propel the promise of this agreement into its reality... This agreement is significant because it reminds our society of the fundamental dignity and equality we share as human beings. This is not an agreement in which farmworkers are 'done unto.' Farmworkers have been full partners in the creation of this agreement and will be full partners in its implementation, because the agreement and its partners recognize each other as human beings who are entitled to respect, voice, and participation."

We hope Chipotle Mexican Grill is paying attention.

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