At Bon Appétit Management Company, we believe that farmworkers should not only be honored for their contribution to our food system, but enjoy the same rights and protections as employees in other occupations.
We hope the way Bon Appétit Management Company lives its values inspires other companies to do the same.” — from the Cruz Reynoso-Ralph Abascal Don Quixote Award, California Rural Legal Assistance
Did you know the 1.4 million crop farmworkers who plant, harvest, and pack the food grown throughout the United States are excluded from the basic labor and safety standards that other employees take for granted? Likewise, many people would be shocked to learn that farm work has lenient child labor restrictions and little or no overtime limits, collective bargaining rights, or workers’ compensation insurance, although agriculture is among the most hazardous industries in the U.S. Even the few rules that do exist for farmworkers are rarely enforced. (Learn more)
What we’re doing
Putting our weight behind Oregon farmworkers: In 2001 we were the first food service company to support the boycott of produce grown by NORPAC, Oregon’s largest food processing and packaging cooperative, which was refusing to negotiate with farmworkers represented by Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United, better known by its Spanish acronym PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste). In 2002 NORPAC agreed to abide by a set of labor guidelines.
Protecting tomato pickers in Florida: In the vast tomato fields of south Florida, farmworkers are exploited and abused, to the extent that one federal prosecutor called Florida “ground zero for modern-day slavery.” In 2009, Bon Appétit executives and chefs visited Immokalee, FL, and witnessed these deplorable conditions firsthand. We were the first food service company to partner with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a farmworker organization with whom we forged a new agreement that frames acceptable working conditions and enforces those conditions with a strict code of conduct for tomato growers.
Educating consumers about conditions for farmworkers:
- The Inventory of Farmworker Issues and Protections in the United States: In March 2011 the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation and United Farm Workers of America, with support from Oxfam America, released a groundbreaking report detailing the lack of laws and protections for crop farmworkers in the U.S. The report has become required reading in many classrooms.
- TEDxFruitvale — Harvesting Change: In October 2011, the BAMCO Foundation hosted a special conference that focused on farmworkers and labor movements. The 24 speakers included farmworkers, farmers, activists, artists, students, professors, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs, and the live webcast was watched by groups all around the country. The 23 videos are available on YouTube via the links here.
- Farmworker Awareness Week: In collaboration with the Student Farmworker Alliance, every March dozens of our cafés spotlight farmworker issues with guest activities and educational materials. (See what we’re doing for 2015.)
Empowering farmworkers and setting standards: We are proud to be an early member of the Equitable Food Initiative, a unique partnership among businesses and advocacy groups that have come together to develop standards, training processes, and a certification to protect farmworkers and produce safer, healthier food. Read about EFI in the New York Times.