Sodexo: Jaya K. Bohlmann
301 987 4415
Foodservice leader, farm worker organization form strategic partnership to improve wages, working conditions in Florida tomato fields
GAITHERSBURG, MD, August 24, 2010 – With consumer demand for sustainable food growing by the day, Sodexo, North America’s leading provider of Quality of Daily Life Solutions and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a leading voice for human rights in the US agricultural industry, have joined forces to improve farm worker wages and working conditions in the tomato fields of Florida. The agreement that establishes the new partnership was signed this week and takes effect when the fall harvest begins in Florida.
The agreement puts in place a strict Florida tomato supplier code of conduct – developed and implemented with input from farm workers – that supplements Sodexo’s existing supplier code of conduct. Sodexo will also pay a 1.5-cent premium for every pound of Florida tomatoes purchased, with the premium going directly to improving wages for tomato harvesters who are part of Sodexo’s supply chain.
Through this agreement, Sodexo, along with other CIW partner companies, will steer its tomato purchases toward those growers who make a genuine effort to meet the specific code of conduct, and away from those growers who continue to be associated with abusive labor practices. In keeping with the Fair Food Program and its zero tolerance policy for forced labor, Sodexo will instruct its suppliers not to knowingly purchase tomatoes for Sodexo from Six L’s and any other farms associated with the latest slavery prosecution in Florida, until such time as they become participants in the Fair Food Program.
In a parallel process, Sodexo will work to expand the ability of its distributors to report the growers from whom it buys tomatoes. This increased transparency will ensure that more humane agricultural labor practices are rewarded with increased purchases and will allow for a more accurate measure of the concrete changes in farm labor conditions brought about by the agreement.
“Sodexo is committed to protecting and upholding the rights of all workers, whether employed directly by us or by our business partners and suppliers,” said Arlin Wasserman, Sodexo vice president for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. “Our Supplier Code of Conduct has always emphasized strong practices and policies regarding labor practices and working conditions. We can now strengthen these as they relate to specific concerns facing farm workers in Florida’s tomato growing region, which were brought to our attention by the CIW. We are pleased with the newly adopted Code of Conduct specific to these Florida farm workers.”
For more information about Sodexo’s comprehensive Supplier Code of Conduct, please visit www.sodexousa.com
“We are happy to be working with an industry leader like Sodexo to advance fundamental human rights in Florida’s fields,” said Lucas Benitez of the CIW. “Social responsibility takes a genuine, sustained engagement with workers and growers on the ground, and a determination to support, with increased business, those growers who agree to comply with the highest standards.
“Together with Sodexo and our other partners, we are building a system of real accountability, with tangible consequences for growers who fail to protect farm workers’ basic rights,” continued Benitez. “It is our belief that such accountability, with worker input, will be the foundation for lasting improvements in the industry.”
Sodexo in North America
Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com) leading Quality of Daily Life Solutions company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On Site Service Solutions in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well as Motivation Solutions such as Esteem Pass. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md. funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation (www.SodexoFoundation.org), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $13 million in grants to fight hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at www.sodexoUSA.com/blog.
About Coalition of the Immokalee Workers (CIW)
The CIW (www.ciw-online.org) is a community-based farmworker organization headquartered in Immokalee, Florida, with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance with national and international labor standards. Among its accomplishments, the CIW has aided in the prosecution by the Department of Justice of six slavery operations and the liberation of well over 1,000 workers. The CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food has won unprecedented support for fundamental farm labor reforms from retail food industry leaders, with the goal of enlisting the market power of those companies to demand more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers.