Establishing game-changing fair labor requirements for Florida tomato growers
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.” 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 Mount St. Mary’s Executive Chef Francisco Alvarez visited Immokalee, Florida and 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 forged a new agreement that frames acceptable working conditions and enforces those conditions with a strict code of conduct. Highlights of the agreement include:
- A “Minimum Fair Wage” – Workers will be 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 will be paid for every hour worked and every pound picked.
- Worker empowerment – Workers will be 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 will permit third-party monitoring that includes worker participation.
Read the full text of the code of conduct here.
Bon Appétit is the first food service company to establish such extensive fair labor requirements for Florida tomato growers and our code of conduct was the farthest-reaching agreement in the food industry. Partnering with the CIW, 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.