October 1, 2009

"Greatest victory for farmworkers since Cesar Chavez in the 1970s"

On September 25, the CIW, Compass Group, and East Coast Growers and Packers announced "sweeping changes to benefit tomato harvesters" at press conference in the nation's capital! Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis (left) attended the event, lending firm support to the Campaign for Fair Food. Click here for the CIW photo report!

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis: "I would like to congratulate the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. For the first time, a major Florida producer, East Coast Growers and Packers, represented here, has implemented the CIW's Fair Food program. This is a huge victory."

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: "I commend the Compass Group and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for taking meaningful steps to ensure that these workers are paid a decent wage and are treated fairly. This agreement not only represents an important step forward for tomato workers in Florida, it is an expression of the essential value of farm workers to our agricultural sector as a whole." see the statement here on the USDA website

Senator Bernie Sanders: "Today marks the beginning of the end of the harvest of shame that has existed for far too long in Florida's tomato fields. I applaud the tireless efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers toward improving the wages and working conditions of tomato workers. I also commend the Compass Group for agreeing to this important initiative. The time has come for all tomato growers to participate in the penny per pound program and ensure that no tomato worker lives in abject poverty."

Lucas Benitez of the CIW: "The future of Florida agriculture is contained within this agreement today. It is a future founded on mutual respect and mutual benefit, a future of common purpose among farmworkers, growers, retail food leaders, and consumers. In short, it is a future of social responsibility. We look forward to working with East Coast, Compass, and the other companies that have signed Fair Food agreements to develop the rules and rigorous monitoring systems necessary to make that future a reality this coming season."

Gerardo Reyes of the CIW: "For social responsibility to truly take hold in Florida, growers like East Coast who embrace more humane labor standards must be rewarded by the market. With a strategy for social responsibility and the support of companies like Compass, East Coast -- and the workers whose labor is its lifeblood -- will not only survive, but will thrive well into the 21st century."

Eric Schlosser (author, Fast Food Nation): "There's no question that this is the greatest victory for farmworkers since Cesar Chavez in the 1970s."