Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign…

80 protest Trader Joe’s grand opening in Chicago, 100 Fair Food activists picket Milwaukee TJ’s store next day!

While Publix has been on the hot seat of late, the back burner hasn’t been exactly kind to Trader Joe’s, either. Several actions have taken place at midwest Trader Joe’s stores recently, including locations in Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities. For a photo report from this past weekend’s Trader Joe’s actions, click here.

Meanwhile, the “shabby chic” retailer has been the subject of some pretty searing commentary in the media, as well, including a strongly-worded rebuttal by the people at Just Harvest USA to the Trader Joe’s anti-Campaign for Fair Food literature distributed by store personnel at each and every Fair Food action. Here’s an excerpt:

“Trader Joe’s claims:

‘Again, we take this issue seriously and address such matters in our agreements with our suppliers. In fact, we require that our suppliers:

…represent and warrant that the goods sold to TJ’s were produced, harvested, manufactured, processed, packaged, labeled, transported, delivered, and sold in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations of the United States of America and all of its subdivisions and, if applicable, the laws of any other country, state, or international governing body…that the goods sold to TJ’s were not produced, harvested, manufactured, processed, packaged, labeled, transported, or delivered using forced or prison labor or forced or illegal child labor.

If any of our suppliers are not in compliance with our agreement, we will terminate our relationship.’

That’s not good enough, Joe!

Where were you and all your agreements during all the slavery cases to come out of Florida agriculture over the past fifteen years? How many relationships with your suppliers did you terminate then? To truly change the abysmal situation faced by farmworkers, it is crucial that there be a robust program for continually monitoring conditions in the fields, investigating abuses, and enforcing compliance. And the CIW’s Fair Food Program is just such an approach, with farmworkers themselves playing an important role in the protection of their own rights.

No matter what you claim to “require” of your suppliers, it will amount to little more than words on paper as long as you have no reliable way to scrutinize what is occurring on the ground. The requirements you placed on your suppliers did not prevent a well-documented litany of abuses – from sub-poverty wages to sexual harassment to slavery itself – from occurring and they certainly did not prevent you from continuing to buy tomatoes from farms where forced labor was being used. Did you not know or did not care that this was the case? Either way, your current assurances ring hollow…” read more

Here are more links from the blogosphere on Trader Joe’s and its refusal to work with the CIW in support of Fair Food:

Major Trader Joe’s protests are coming soon in Monrovia, CA, and NYC. If you are interested in finding out how you can participate, email Damara Luce at for more information on the upcoming protests!