PETITION DELIVERY PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON BK’S DIRTY LAUNDRY

PETITION DELIVERY PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON
BK’S DIRTY LAUNDRY


(photo by Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press)
Click here for the CIW report with exclusive photos from Monday’s exciting protest!

Latest editorials and reports on the growing controversy:

  • "Raw deal by BK," editorial, Ft. Myers News-Press, 4/30/08
  • "Burger King Burglarly," editorial, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 4/29/08
  • "Burger King VP accused of flaming pressure group," vnunet.com, UK, 4/29/08
  • "BK draws more heat from tomato pickers group," Nation’s Restaurant News, 4/28/08
  • "Beef with Burger King," CNBC video, 4/30/08

UPDATE: Just how high does widening scandal go? Fast-food giant mum… As 200 farmworkers and their allies gathered at Burger King’s headquarters this past Monday to deliver 84,952 signatures from the nationwide Petition Campaign to End Slavery and Sweatshops in the Fields, news broke of BK Vice President Steven Grover’s (photo on left, taken during a previous CIW protest) personal involvement in a widening dirty tricks scandal.

On the morning of the petition delivery ceremony, the Ft. Myers News Press ran a story with evidence that Mr. Grover was directly responsible for a number of harsh and libelous internet postings attacking the CIW and that he used, among other assumed identities, his daughter’s online ID to do so.

Gerardo Reyes of the CIW (shown below addressing the crowd at Monday’s petition delivery ceremony) was quoted in the article, pressing Burger King to come clean as to just how high up the company’s chain of command this scandal reaches:

"This is truly disturbing," said coalition member Gerardo Reyes. "It’s one thing to imagine that there’s some kind of anonymous Internet stalker out there obsessively tracking every story about the CIW, posting these vicious lies about us and calling us things like ‘the lowest form of life’ and ‘blood suckers,’" Reyes said. "I mean, we’re a farmworker community fighting slavery and trying to get a fair wage for the work we do."

The bigger question, Reyes said, is this: "When you realize the person posting those things is actually Burger King’s vice president in charge of the ethical operation of the company’s supply chain, it really makes you wonder just how high up does this whole thing go? Does Burger King, as a company, approve of this sort of behavior? If not, we’d expect to see some changes now that this has come to light."

Thus far, Burger King has done nothing in response to the latest revelations but claim that the postings attributed to Mr. Grover "do not reflect its official policy."

But as Gerardo said in his speech at the delivery ceremony, "words are not enough… if their position is different (from that of Mr. Grover), they must clarify that today, and not with words, but with concrete actions."

Words are not enough precisely because, until just a few months ago, much of what Mr. Grover has been accused of saying behind false identities on the internet he said as an official spokesperson for Burger King to press and to the public. As the Associated Press reported in its story on the petition ceremony, "At one point, Burger King Vice President Stephen Grover told reporters he was concerned the coalition was pocketing the extra money. After several independent groups that verified the agreements dismissed the allegations, Burger King officials stopped repeating them."

If it was official policy then, how can we be sure that it is not still official, if not public, policy today?

No actions have been forthcoming, however. And as the fast-food giant continues to flounder, the embarrassing revelations are making news across the country. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC gave the scandal his own sardonic thumbs up (see the video here), awarding Mr. Grover the bronze medal in his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for "anonymously trashing farmworkers and using his daughter’s online ID to do so."

The blogosphere is also buzzing with the news, with the most-read political blog of them all, Daily Kos, covering the revelations in its "State of the Nation" section in a posting entitled, "Burger King VP exposed as troll."

The clock is ticking. It is time for Burger King to make a clear and unambiguous break from the counterproductive policy captured in Mr. Grover’s vulgar postings and to move firmly behind the growing movement for social responsibility in the food industry. More and more consumers every day are watching.