CIW, Fair Food allies to rally outside Kroger annual shareholder meeting Thursday in Cincinnati!

[hupso title=”CIW, allies rally outside @Kroger shareholder meeting; FFP education team pays respects in #Charleston” url=”http://ciw-online.org/blog/2015/06/kroger-shareholder-charleston/”] 

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CIW members and their Ohio-based allies march through downtown Cincinnati after representatives were shut out of last year’s Kroger shareholder meeting.

 

Rally to call on country’s second largest food retailer to join the country’s most respected social responsibility program for the protection of farm labor rights in its supply chain;

Also: CIW education team in South Carolina pays respects at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston…

On Thursday, June 24th, in Cincinnati, Ohio, local clergy, students, and residents with the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center and Ohio Fair Food will join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) for a demonstration outside the 2015 Kroger’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders.  Together, they will call on the supermarket giant to join its competitors Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market in supporting the award-winning Fair Food Program.

Last year’s shareholder meeting event ended in an impromptu march on Kroger headquarters after the company made the extraordinary decision to turn away a delegation representing the CIW and their Ohio allies — despite the fact that the delegation members held proxies authorizing them to speak on behalf of shareholders not in attendance at the meeting.  The march and the protesters’ spirit caught the city’s attention:

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The delegation heading to Thursday’s meeting is confident that the same decision will not be made this year and that they will be allowed to address Kroger executives and the assembled shareholders about the Fair Food Program, the social responsibility program heralded in the Washington Post as “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” and honored by the White House for its “extraordinary efforts in combatting human trafficking.” 

The CIW’s Julia de la Cruz and Mother Paula Jackson of Cincinnati’s Church of Our Savior spoke for the press about this week’s event:

Julia de la Cruz:  “Kroger continues to justify its refusal to join the Fair Food Program by insisting that the corporation has its own supplier code of conduct, when even Kroger’s largest competitors have recognized the ineffectiveness of monitoring their own supply chains,” said Julia de la Cruz of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. “If the corporation is truly committed to human rights, it will join the Fair Food Program, an established, proven solution to decades of abuses, like sexual harassment and modern-day slavery. Kroger needs to support the Program that is transforming an entire industry and positively affecting the lives of tens of thousands of workers.”

Mother Paula Jackson:  “As a person of faith and local Cincinnati resident, I am deeply dismayed by the unconscionable refusal of Kroger’s to join a mechanism that is successfully rooting out such longstanding abuses,” said Mother Paula Jackson of the Church of our Savior. 

For those of you in the Cincinnati area, the rally will begin at 10:00 am outside the city’s Music Hall, 1241 Elm St.  Check back soon for a complete update from the rally, with photos and a first-hand report from inside the meeting!

CIW education team pays respects at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston…

Meanwhile, the CIW’s worker-to-worker education team continues to make its way up the east coast, as the expansion of the Fair Food Program reaches South Carolina’s coastal tomato industry.  

But while the task at hand — informing workers on participating Low Country tomato farms of their rights under the Fair Food Program — is of utmost importance, events in Charleston this week shook the country as a whole and transcended the education team’s mission. Accordingly, the team members decided to set aside their work yesterday to visit Mother Emanuel AME Church and pay their respects to the victims of last Wednesday’s horrific shooting.

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The CIW’s Cruz Salucio lays flowers outside Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church on behalf of his fellow CIW members.

Nothing can be said or done today to bring back the nine souls lost in last week’s attack, nor to fill the hole left by their loss in the lives of their countless loved ones.  They can no longer hug or hold, laugh or cry with, their husbands and wives, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, who died that day at prayer.  

But their loss will not be in vain.  If the current movement to relegate the Confederate flag — that hateful image finally being recognized as the symbol of oppression and division it has always truly been — to the dustbin of history is any indication, this event has shaken the South out of its ancient stupor and awoken an entire region to the reality that hate, and its vile offspring, racism, have no place in the 21st century.  

But the flag’s removal should be just a start.  It is up to us now, those left behind in the wake of Wednesday’s nightmare, to go deeper, to finally uproot the age old contempt and cruelty for which it stood.  

As the Reverend Norvel Goff declared at this past Sunday’s service at the Emanuel AME Church, “no weapon formed against us shall prosper.”  Hate, the most deadly weapon of all, shall not prosper.  Love must, and will, prevail.