Modern-Day Slavery Museum Northeast Tour Final Stop, Compass Group Headquarters Charlotte, NC 8/16/10

On the final stop of the 2010 Northeast Tour, the CIW’s Modern-Day Slavery Museum set up shop on some prime real estate — in the parking lot of foodservice giant Compass Group’s corporate headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

While the idea of a farmworker organization joining forces with a major food retail corporation to fight slavery and poverty in the fields might seem unusual — and, indeed, the Compass stop caught the attention of several members of the local media — it was not the first time Compass has demonstrated its commitment to the Fair Food agreement it signed just 11 months ago, an agreement that Eric Schlosser called “the greatest victory for farmworkers since Cesar Chavez in the 1970’s.

In fact, Compass has been an exemplary partner since signing the agreement last year, working through the many challenges of implementation over the past season in close — and transparent — cooperation with the CIW.

But the museum visit wasn’t about sending a message to the public or to its suppliers, rather it was an opportunity to educate its own employees about why Compass has made such a wholehearted investment in the goals of Fair Food.

And Compass employees responded, making their way through the museum throughout the day, braving the heat to take advantage of the rare window into conditions in the fields that provide fruits and vegetables to the country’s trillion-dollar food industry.

The final stop of the Northeast Tour also provided an opportunity for Cheryl Queen — Vice President for Communications at Compass Group and one of the driving forces behind Compass’ commitment to farm labor justice — to visit with old friends from the CIW and…







 … in the process, receive a personal tour of the museum from Chief Docent (and tireless museum truck driver…) Julia Perkins herself!

In the end, the visit to Compass headquarters was the perfect finish to a remarkably successful museum tour. The final display of the museum itself is a board that presents the solution to the enduring scourge of slavery — the Campaign for Fair Food, a growing partnership of farmworkers and consumers with growers and retail food companies to demand and build a more modern, more humane agricultural industry.

In keeping with that message, the final stop on the tour cast light on just such a partnership in action, a model for the rest of the food industry that demonstrates, in no uncertain terms, that farm labor justice is not just necessary, and long overdue, but possible.

Our thanks go out to our friends at Compass and to all our gracious hosts along the route of the 2010 Northeast Tour. We couldn’t have done it without you.

And to those thousands of people who passed through the museum and learned, some for the first time, some in still greater depth, of the exploitation in our country’s fields, we look forward to joining with you this coming season as we seek to enlist the supermarket giants in the Campaign for Fair Food and, finally, bring a successful end to the decades-old struggle for justice in the fields.