McDONALD’S CAMPAIGN TAKES OFF!

Here’s the breakdown on all the news, analysis, allies, and action from the first few weeks of this fast developing campaign:

News


>>
 Nation’s Restaurant News 12/12, “Concern over McDonald’s policy grows”:

“The SAFE code is a result of ‘a growing realization that corporate social responsibility is beginnning to wind its way into farming,’ said Ray Gilmer, FFVA’s public affairs director.”

“Critics however, including national religious, student, and human rights organizations, questioned the credibility of a code of conduct developed by agriculture employers without input from the workers it claims to protect.’ READ MORE

>> Alternet 12/20, “McDonald’s versus the tomato pickers”:

“‘Everyone’s watching the agreement Yum has with the coalition, and it seems to be working well,’ Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association spokesperson Gilmer said. “But the concern is that down the road, if there are additional wages that will end up making Florida farms the higher-cost alternative, and they’ll be undercut by other states or Mexico, since most farms don’t have these agreements.’

But the Immokalee Workers point out that the Florida Tomato Committee, an industry group that works with the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, has already successfully promoted the application of industry-wide surcharges on all Florida tomatoes as a means to pass rising input costs on to their customers. In the past several years, surcharges have been added to recoup increased costs for everything from chemicals to fuel. This, they say, shows that small wage increases would not be detrimental to the Florida tomato industry.” READ MORE


Meanwhile, at the University of Texas, in an article entitled “McDonald’s boycott next?” by Jordan Buckley, the question is posed:

“Is McDonald’s more concerned with cleaning up human rights violations in the fields or their reputation in the market place? McDonald’s role in the creation of SAFE and its code of conduct – a document universally founded upon the principle of transparency – must be immediately clarified.” See the whole article here.

ALSO… Click on the links below for more coverage:

>> AP (12/1): “Churches call on McDonald’s to pay more to tomato pickers”

>> AP (11/21): “Farmworkers take on McDonald’s”

Analysis

“What We Have Learned”… More questions have been raised than answered by McDonald’s response to the call by churches, human rights organizations, and countless consumers to clean up labor abuses in its tomato supply chain. We try to answer those questions in a recap and analysis of the dizzying developments from the past several weeks. Here’s an excerpt:

“According to the Palm Beach Post — in an article detailing the death of a bill to protect pesticide workers due, in part, to the FFVA’s opposition (“In capitol, reform hits stony ground”) — the FFVA is the state’s ‘largest pool of agricultural donors’ to the Florida legislature. The article goes on to say that, when the FFVA ‘recently held its annual convention at the Ritz-Carlton… the governor and the chairs of the House and Senate agricultural committees all made appearances.’… That same 2003 Palm Beach Post story reported that in her speech accepting the FFVA’s Lawmaker of the Year Award, State Senator Nancy Argenziano, Republican from Crystal River and Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, declared, ‘The essence of freedom is the limitation of government.’

The FFVA is one partner — the senior partner, by all indications — in the new farm labor accountability project known as “SAFE”, a project with the stated goal of raising the standards for how Florida growers manage their labor, and of strictly enforcing those new standards so that companies like McDonald’s can rest assured that those new, higher standards are being met.” READ MORE


ALSO… Does Florida Labor Scandal Point to McDonald’s Supplier? The top story in the Ft. Myers News Press for Friday December 9, reads:

“The Immokalee contractor who prosecutors called ‘brutal’ for beating migrant workers and extorting money from them to pay off smuggling debts, spent 33 months in prison for enslaving migrant farmworkers in 1999.

But today he’s back in business furnishing labor to farmers in Florida and New Jersey.And it’s perfectly legal. He can’t own a gun or vote, but the law says he can work as a labor contractor five years after his conviction.

‘It may be legal, but it ain’t right,’ said Doug Molloy, chief assistant U.S. Attorney in Ft. Myers who prosecuted Cuello and his brother Basilio Cuello in 1999.” [Click here for full story, “Former smuggler, slaver back in business — legally”]

The question begs to be asked: If Cuello’s back furnishing labor, who buys the tomatoes picked by Cuello’s crews? Learn more by clicking here.

Allies

NCC TELLS McD’S: “We at the National Council of Churches expect you to do better”!

With a powerful statement that begins: “Every so often there comes a moment that holds out the promise of making the world a significantly better place, if only we take action. Today the McDonald’s corporation is presented with one of those moments — an opportunity to help transform the agri-food industry in ways that are fairer and more just. The question is, Will it seize this moment or will it retreat and protect the status quo?,” the National Council of Churches has brought its considerable moral authority — and member faith groups representing 45 million people across the nation — to the growing chorus of national institutions strongly critical of McDonald’s’ efforts to side-step calls for meaningful labor reforms in its tomato supply chain.

The NCC is the latest of dozens of key allies in the successful Taco Bell Boycott to have taken a strong stand in response to McDonald’s’ refusal to recognize the principles established in the precedent-setting agreement with Yum Brands. The NCC statement concludes:

“Now is the time for McDonald’s to become a partner with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in transforming those aspects of the agricultural and fast food industries that have exploited farmworkers for corporate profit. As a corporation that benefits in the form of low-cost tomatoes from the current system, you have a pressing moral responsibility to act now… Choose today to help advance human rights by working with the farmworkers whose vision for justice is even now bearing its first fruits in the fields.” Read the full statement here

Read statements by more key allies by clicking on the links below:

>> Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

>> Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights

>> United Students Against Sweatshops

>> United Church of Christ

>> Unitarian Universalists

>> National Latina/o Law Students Association

>> Interfaith Worker Justice

>> Disciples of Christ

>> National Farm Worker Ministry

>> Bishop John Nevins, Diocese of Venice

>> Buddhist Peace Fellowship

>> National Economic and Social Rights Initiative