Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pressure on Chipotle continues

Protests and public pressure against Denver-based continues to grow such as the recent above-pictured protest at a Chipotle restaurant in Manhattan.

In Minneapolis, a delegation from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and a number of other local food justice and worker justice organizations held a delegation to their local Chipotle manager.  Here is an excerpt from their reflection on the delegation:

Similar to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, Chipotle has built a reputation for providing food with integrity. It’s amazing that they are willing to put that reputation on the line by resisting collaboration with CIW. Chipotle claims that they are instituting all of the conditions of the code of conduct; they just don’t want to sign the agreement with CIW. Yet without allowing for third-party verification, and given Chipotle’s history of questionable statements about its actions in support of farmworkers, Chipotle’s claims simply don’t have credence.

You can read the entire reflection from their excellent blog post here: Chipotle, please add some farmworker justice to my burrito

On the West Coast, Fair Food allies took a different approach - making a music video to the tune of Willie Nelson's cover of "The Scientist," the same song which Chipotle used in its "Back to the Start" commercial which won it praise from some sustainable agriculture proponents and many advertising industry insiders.  Only in the Fair Food version, the lyrics make the case for farmworker justice and demand that Chipotle sign a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Capping off this post, we'll give a shout out to the 65,000 people who've signed the SumOfUs.org Petition to Chipotle demanding that it sign a Fair Food Agreement with the CIW.

Sign the petition today if you haven't already!

Scores of people added their own personal messages to Chipotle's CEO, and they were, taken together, a powerful expression of consumer discontent with the food system's indifference to unconscionable farm labor conditions at the bottom of their supply chains. We have compiled just a few of the messages to share with you here today, so sit back and enjoy as a chorus of consumers calls on Chipotle to stand behind its claim to "integrity" and stand with workers in Immokalee in building a more modern, more humane Florida tomato industry:
"I chose Chipotle because of its alleged ethical commitment and this refusal to participate in the CIW undermines that. Continued refusal would only lead me to believe that any further claims of ethical goodwill are patently false. Why lose the brand value you've built? Thank you." — S N, Berkeley Heights, NJ, United States
"Mr. Ells - I am so disappointed that this company has not yet signed the agreement. I am an avid supporter of Chipotle due to its gathering of food sources and support of those that provide it. Now, I realize this may all be commercial hype. While I wait to see how Chipotle responds to this action, I will not be making purchases with your company. I anxiously await your "right" response. PLEASE inform the community in which you are located on your decision. You know others will when you won't... I hope to be a customer again and soon!" — C L, Erie, PA, United States
"I am a regular Chipotle customer and a big fan because I respect the idea of 'food with integrity.' However, if it is only an idea, I will have to reconsider my loyalty. Thank you." — L W, Nashville, TN, United States
"Mr. Ells - I am so disappointed! I chose to drive from VT to Saratoga yesterday, Mother's Day!, to shop and eat at Chipotle for lunch. There is a big sign in your restaurant about environmental initiatives like recycling the food baskets. Please be ethical all the way around." — S G, Middletown Springs, VT, United States

"I want to add a personal message that my wife and I visit our local Chipotle, in Medford, MA, nearly every week. We love your burrito bowls, and in particular, we love the way in which you source your food. I find it deeply disappointing to find that your message is not truth, but mere marketing. Please, I urge you to sign the Fair Food Agreement, and work with the CIW, to ensure that farm workers are treated fairly. Without such action, I will have to think twice about whether or not I really wish to eat at your restaurant. Thank you." — N S, Medford, MA, United States
"Mr. Ells, as a customer and fan of Chipotle, I'm upset to learn that your company has, despite its promise of serving 'food with integrity', refused to sign the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Please reinstate talks with CIW, and commit to the Fair Food Agreement. You'd be serving as a paragon for other companies to follow, and would keep my business and customer satisfaction. Thank you for your time." --- S K, Allen, TX, United States.
'Being from Colorado, I've always been proud of Chipotle's commitment to good food, raised and harvested in a good way... the way of harmony. Now I hear that you are not working with groups that serve these poor farm workers.. and give us no guarantee that the food is being picked in the least harmful matter, you want me for a costumer again, you will change this, if not, I have other places I can get my food." — R W, denver, CO, United States

"I eat at Chipotle. I have eaten at Chipotle since there was only one restaurant, on Evans in the old Dolly Madison store. I am proud of Chipotle for supporting good food efforts like the film FOOD INC. and the recent appearance of Michael Pollan in Denver. It is dismaying that Chipotle doesn't support the Fair Food Agreement. Please uphold your good efforts with continued good efforts. Don't let Chipotle leave a bad taste in my mouth." — S C, Englewood, CO, United States

"Mr. Ells - I love your "food with integrity" message, and it keeps me coming back as a customer. I am, however, disappointed to hear that you have, so far, not been willing to sign the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Many other large companies have been able to sign that agreement, so I don't imagine that it would impossibly impede your profits by doing so. I, for one, would be happy to pay a bit more for a Chipotle burrito (as I already choose to do) if I knew I could feel good about the people who work so hard to gather my food for me. Please sign the Fair Food Agreement right away. Thank you." — L S, Santa Cruz, CA, United States
"Mr. Ells - A Chipotle just opened across the street from my office: I was looking forward to having a new option for lunch, so reading about your refusal to commit to the Fair Food Agreement comes as a real disappointment. Needless to say, I will not be introducing Chipotle into my lunch options given its unethical practice in regards to Florida farm workers. Please reverse this and sign the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers now." — M Ll, West Somerville, MA, United States
"I am from Florida, and I believe if you saw the living conditions of so many of the workers you would understand how important this agreement is to improve the lives of the families that do this work. I appreciate your consideration." — K A, Richardson, TX, United States

"As a single mother of a 4-year-old son, vegetarian like his mother, I frequent Chipotle one or two times a week when we're in a big hurry and need fast, affordable healthy fare. He loves your food, as do I! But this is such a turn-off that we will be taking our business elsewhere until we hear a change has been effected. There are other options out there for customers who care about ethics!!! Chipotle, please hurry up and do the right thing." — I Y, Evanston, IL, United States
"People at our company order from chipotle at least 3 times per week, rarely less than $33.00 to feed 4 people per order. There is an astonishing amount of information on your website pertaining to ethically-sourced ingredients. The fair food agreement is a step towards insuring those who do the labor in the fields can begin to earn a living wage for their work. Therefore, please do the right thing, and sign on. To think that there is any unethical treatment to anyone/anything anywhere in your supply chain is unfortunate." — C F, Groveport, OH, United States

"I've been excited that a Chipotle opened in NW arkansas and had intended a special trip to check it out. A large part of why I was drawn to your place of business was your claims of food with integrity etc. is it just a ruse to attract customers or are you the real thing? Thank you." — S C, Springdale, AR, United States

"Mr. Ells - My son loves your food and so we eat there often, sometimes several times a week, including tonight in fact. I am horrified to learn that you have not signed the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Please sign it immediately to ensure workers are paid and treated fairly for the tomatoes they pick for your salsa." — Z N, Washington, DC, United States

"I think I'll be holding off on going to my local Chipotle--which I usually hit once a week-- until I hear the results of this. After all, there's a Subway or two in the same stretch, and they are looking better right now. Thank you." — E F, Columbus, OH, United States

"If you find that you are unable to sign the agreement to push for equality and fair treatment for workers then I won't be able to believe your claim of serving "food with integrity" and will no longer financially support Chipotle. Thank you for your time." — B W, Austin, TX, United States

I enjoy your burrito bowls and would like to continue enjoying them but I like for the restaurants I frequent to be ethical and honest in their business dealings. Please sign so that I know you remain committed to ethical business practices!
—Jenna Nassrah, Norfolk, VA, United States
"Mr. Ells - Please sign the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers now, to ensure workers are paid and treated fairly for the tomatoes they pick for your salsa. It's been more than 60 years since "Harvest of Shame!" It's time." — Dr. B Tulsa, OK, United States
"I am additionally a Chipotle stockholder, for the sole reason that you are supposedly an ethical company. I will sell my shares and move on if you don't take the appropriate action on this matter. " — K T, Dallas, TX, United States
"Mr. Ells - It's the right thing to do, regardless of any mitigating factors. Please put yourself in a picker's place and think about that." — D C, Portland, OR, United States
"Mr. Ells: My purchases of food and most goods are influenced by the business practices of the organization I'm purchasing from. This includes the treatment of both their employees and the employees of their suppliers." — E K-M, Downingtown, PA, United States

"I have been a steady Chipotle customer since branches opened in Manhattan. I have been buying dinner for two from these branches at least twice a week-- including last night. I also buy lunch for the workers in my department and myself at Chipotle, as a treat. But unless Chipotle signs with the CIW, you will lose me as a customer permanently. And until I learn that you are dealing fairly with Immokalee farm workers, I will not buy from Chipotle. If McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and many other corporate firms can reach agreement with the CIW, I fail to see why Chipotle cannot. Sincerely," -- J H, P S, NY, United States

"It's time to do the right thing here. Remember, the whole world is watching. Thank you for your consideration." — D H, Iowa City, IA, United States

"And I'll be sure that EVERYONE in my local area learn that your claims are nothing more tangible than a ghosts dream. Let's see you business thrive with half your clientele missing." — L E, Loveland, CO, United States

"Chipotle's work with Farm Aid is greatly appreciated, but refusal to sign the CIW agreement brings into question your organization's concern for farmers and farmworkers. Thank you from a Naples, Florida resident." — L C, Naples, FL, United States
We'll stop there for now, but there are many, many, many more...

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