Nine of the country’s leading student organizations have sent a joint letter to McDonald’s on the eve of the 2007 Truth Tour, advising McD’s CEO Jim Skinner to “not underestimate our tenacity or the proven strength of our alliance with Florida’s farmworkers.” The student letter comes only a week after 185 religious leaders sent their own letter to McDonald’s.

The organizations include: Student/Farmworker Alliance, United Students Against Sweatshops, United States Student Association, Student Labor Action Project, National Latino/a Law Student Association, United Students for Fair Trade, Student Action with Farmworkers, Student Environmental Action Coalition, and the Living Wage Action Coalition. Here’s an excerpt:

“The simple fact is this: Florida’s agricultural employers — many of them your company’s suppliers and “partners” in social responsibility — have a long and disreputable track record of farm labor abuse, a record that has only grown worse since the launching of SAFE. They are, in short, the very foxes that have been raiding the henhouse for years.

This fact has doomed your company’s employer-controlled approach to social responsibility to failure from the start. Credibility is absolutely essential to the success of any social responsibility strategy. Yet as long as your partners have no credibility whatsoever when it comes to the protection of their workers’ rights and welfare, the SAFE code of conduct will have no credibility in the eyes of the public. And as a consequence, McDonald’s still has no credible mechanism to guarantee consumers that its products are in fact free of forced labor.

In summary, McDonald’s actions since the announcement of the Taco Bell agreement have not only proven to be a dismal failure by any objective measure, but have actually been destructive, serving to undermine farmworkers’ fragile gains and to give comfort to growers who, for the first time in decades, were under pressure to institute real labor reforms in the wake of that historic agreement. Instead, McDonald’s has actually managed to embolden growers determined to thwart progress.” read more