¡Sí se puede! Victory for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Burger King penny-per-pound campaign

It’s a busy day today, especially on the activist front, so I won’t have much to add by way of comment until I’ve had a bit of time to sit down and breathe. But I just got this news via e-mail and it made me so happy that I had to post something to share the good news as soon as possible:

WASHINGTON – May 23, 2008 - The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Burger King Corp. (NYSE:BKC) today announced plans to work together to improve wages and working conditions for the farmworkers who harvest tomatoes for the BURGER KING® system in Florida.

BKC has agreed to pay an additional net penny per pound for Florida tomatoes to increase wages for the Florida farm workers who harvest tomatoes. To encourage grower participation in this increased wage program, BKC will also fund incremental payroll taxes and administrative costs incurred by the growers as a result of their farmworkers’ increased wages, or a total of 1.5 cents per pound of tomatoes.

BKC also joins other fast-food industry leaders and the CIW in calling for an industry-wide net penny per pound surcharge to increase wages for Florida tomato harvesters.

Together, BKC and the CIW have also established zero tolerance guidelines for certain unlawful activities that require immediate termination of any grower from the BURGER KING® supply chain. The BKC/CIW collaboration additionally provides for farmworker participation in the monitoring of growers’ compliance with the company’s vendor code of conduct.

John Chidsey, chief executive officer of Burger King Corp., said, We are pleased to now be working together with the CIW to further the common goal of improving Florida tomato farmworkers’ wages, working conditions and lives. The CIW has been at the forefront of efforts to improve farm labor conditions, exposing abuses and driving socially responsible purchasing and work practices in the Florida tomato fields. We apologize for any negative statements about the CIW or its motives previously attributed to BKC or its employees and now realize that those statements were wrong. Today we turn a new page in our relationship and begin a new chapter of real progress for Florida farmworkers.

For more than 50 years, BKC has been a proud purchaser and supporter of the Florida tomato industry. However, if the Florida tomato industry is to be sustainable long-term, it must become more socially responsible. We, along with other industry leaders, recognize that the Florida tomato harvesters are in need of better wages, working conditions and respect for the hard work they do. And we look forward to working with the CIW in the pursuit of these necessary improvements. We also encourage other purchasers and growers of Florida tomatoes to engage in dialogue with the CIW in support of driving industry-wide socially responsible change.

Lucas Benitez of the CIW added, The events of the past months have been trying. But we are prepared to move forward, together now with Burger King, toward a future of full respect for the human rights of workers in the Florida tomato fields. Today we are one step closer to building a world where we, as farmworkers, can enjoy a fair wage and humane working conditions in exchange for the hard and essential work we do everyday. We are not there yet, but we are getting there, and this agreement should send a strong message to the rest of the restaurant and supermarket industry: Now is the time to join Yum! Brands, McDonalds, and Burger King in righting the wrongs that have been allowed to linger in Florida’s fields for far too long.

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (IL-D): I applaud Burger King for announcing today that it will be providing an extra penny per pound to the tomato pickers of Immokalee, Florida and establishing a zero-tolerance policy for worker abuses in the region. Today’s announcement is a major step forward in improving the wages and working conditions of the Immokalee workers. I call on other purchasers of the region’s tomatoes and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to join Burger King and do the right thing for these workers.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT-I): I have been to Immokalee and seen first-hand the conditions for farm workers there, perhaps the most exploited workers in America. I am very pleased that Burger King has agreed to help the tomato pickers who have worked for too long for too little. I know that this has been a long and hard road for Burger King, and I believe the American people will appreciate what they are doing. I hope now that other corporations will join Burger King, McDonalds and Yum Brands in doing the right thing.

The CIW has ended its campaign against BKC and its franchisees and will work with the company to further foster improvements and sustainable changes throughout the Florida tomato industry. The CIW and BKC will also work together toward development of an industry-wide vendor code of conduct and increased worker wages through encouragement of full buyer and grower participation.

— Coalition of Immokalee Workers Breaking News (2008-05-23): Burger King Corp. and Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Work Together

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7 replies to ¡Sí se puede! Victory for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Burger King penny-per-pound campaign Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-05-27 – Even better than I thought: victory for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers against the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, too:

    […] Friday I mentioned that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers had just announced victory in the Burger King pe…. It turns out that the news is even better than I thought. The news reports that have come out […]

· July 2008 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-07-03 – ¡Chipotle, escucha: estamos en la lucha!:

    […] Here is what Coalition of Immokalee Workers organizer Lucas Benitez had to say at a press conference celebrating the C.I.W.’s remarkable victory in the Burger King penny-per-pound passthrough campaign: […]

  2. Discussed at www.theartofthepossible.net

    The Art of the Possible » Blog Archive » Labor Struggle in a Free Market:

    […] The Coalition of Imolakee Workers, a movement of Indian agricultural laborers who supply many of the tomatoes used by the fast food industry, has used a similar support network, with the coordinated use of leaflets and picketing, petition drives, and boycotts, to obtain major concessions from Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC.  Blogger Charles Johnson provides inspiring details here and here. […]

· September 2008 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-09-08 – Slavery in Florida’s tomato fields:

    […] by uniting together. Along the way the F.T.G.E. has teamed up with Burger King (who later broke ranks and struck a penny-per-pound deal with the C.I.W.) and with a Republican state congressman, repeatedly making unfounded insinuations that the C.I.W. […]

— 2010 —

  1. Discussed at blog.p2pfoundation.net

    P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » Homebrew Industrial Revolution, Chapter Three: Babylon is Fallen (third installment):

    […] Johnson points to the Coalition of Imolakee Workers as an example of an organizing campaign outside the Wagner framework, relying heavily on the open […]

— 2011 —

  1. Discussed at ordinary-gentlemen.com

    Labor Roundtable: Kevin Carson — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen:

    […] alliances with community activists and assorted social justice organizations. This has been quite effective. It’s the “Netwar” model described by David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla at Rand Corporation […]

— 2014 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People's Daily 2014-01-28 – Welcome, Reasoners:

    […] GT 2008-05-23: Victory for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Burger King penny-per-pound cam… […]

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