Establishing game-changing fair labor requirements for Florida tomato growers
In the vast tomato fields of south Florida, farmworkers have been routinely exploited and abused, to the extent that one federal prosecutor called Florida “ground zero for modern-day slavery.” Federal civil rights officials have prosecuted seven slavery operations involving over 1,000 workers in Florida’s fields since 1997. When we heard about this situation, Bon Appétit’s CEO Fedele Bauccio, Vice President Maisie Greenawalt and our executive chef at Mount St. Mary’s went to Immokalee, FL, where they witnessed these deplorable working and living conditions firsthand.
As a result of this experience, we partnered with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a farmworker organization spearheading the fight for more humane farm labor standards in Florida, and signed on to the CIW’s Fair Food Agreement, which frames acceptable working conditions and enforces those conditions with a strict code of conduct (PDF). Highlights of the agreement include:
- A “Minimum Fair Wage” – Workers are paid a wage premium that reflects the unique rigors and uncertainty of farm labor.
- An end to traditional forms of wage abuse – Through standards requiring growers to implement time clocks and to reconcile wages paid with pounds harvested, workers are paid for every hour worked and every pound picked.
- Worker empowerment – Workers are informed of their rights through a system jointly developed by the growers and the CIW. Growers will also collaborate with the CIW and Bon Appétit to implement and enforce a process for workers to pursue complaints without fear of retribution.
- Worker safety – A worker-controlled health and safety committee will give farmworkers a voice in addressing potentially dangerous working conditions, including pesticide, heat, and machinery issues.
- Third-party monitoring – Growers must permit third-party monitoring that includes worker participation.
We are proud to have been the first food service company to partner with the CIW and establish such extensive fair labor requirements for Florida tomato growers. By doing so, we aim to drive lasting changes that will help agricultural workers achieve the level of dignity afforded all American workers while providing sustainable competitive advantages for growers.
Read the Washington Post article, about our landmark agreement: Putting the Squeeze on Tomato Growers to Improve Conditions for Farm Workers