After a long, grueling fight and many protests, good news to report: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) signed an agreement with Chipotle that affirms better working conditions for the people who pick the chain’s tomatoes. From the Denver Post:
Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill reached agreement Thursday with a farmworker-based human rights organization to join the group’s Fair Food Program. …
For six years, the CIW had invited Chipotle to join the Fair Food Program. Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said [on Tuesday] that the company, despite not joining, was in compliance because for three years it has purchased from growers who have signed on to the program.
The pact comes in advance of the winter tomato-growing season, when most of the nation’s tomatoes come from growers in Florida.
We’ve covered the Fair Food Program fight before, most recently at the end of last month. We described what the agreement entails:
Food companies that join the program enter binding contracts with the CIW. They agree to pay a penny more per pound directly to the workers, which doesn’t sound like much but significantly raises their take-home pay. The program also requires shade tents and ice water in the fields, health and safety monitors, sessions to educate workers about their rights, and a confidential enforcement program run by the Fair Food Standards Council in nearby Sarasota. A grower who doesn’t stick to the agreement risks losing his ability to sell to the 10 big fast food and grocery retailers who have signed on.
At that point, the workers insisted that they were in the fight for the long haul. “We’ll continue these demonstrations until Chipotle signs,” one organizer said at the time — and they did.
From a CIW statement released yesterday:
“With this agreement, we are laying down a foundation upon which we all — workers, growers, and Chipotle — can build a stronger Florida tomato industry for the future,” said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. “But more than this, today’s news marks a turning point in the sustainable food movement as a whole, whereby, thanks to Chipotle’s leadership, farmworkers are finally recognized as true partners — every bit as vital as farmers, chefs, and restaurants — in bringing ‘good food’ to our tables.”