Pacific Agreement

October 18, 2010

CIW agreement with Pacific met with broad editorial support!…

Editorials and op/eds across the country are giving a big thumbs up to the CIW’s breakthrough agreement with Pacific Tomato Growers.

From the nearby Ft. Myers News-Press to the weekly news magazine “The Nation”, opinion writers are hailing the agreement as a “milestone,” a “landmark agreement,” and “a new standard for social responsibility“.

Here are three links and excerpts:

“The wall comes tumbling down,” The Nation, 10/18/10

“… For those who have followed CIW’s decade-long fight to raise farmworkers’ sub-poverty wages and remedy oppressive working conditions—including slavery—this agreement marks the moment when a wall of denial maintained by the Florida agricultural industry came tumbling down….Senator Sanders, who has visited Immokalee and held Congressional hearings to shed light on the workers’ struggle, saw the agreement as a model for the industry. “This historic agreement should finally put an end to the harvest of shame that has existed for far too long in Florida’s tomato fields,” he told me in an e-mail. “It is now past time for all tomato growers to participate in the penny-per-pound program and ensure that no tomato worker lives in extreme poverty or is forced into slavery.” read more

“Farmworkers score again for justice,” Ft. Myers News-Press, 10/18/10

“… The agreement vindicates the patient, savvy strategy of the coalition. After growers refused to negotiate with the farmer workers group, the coalition targeted fast-food companies more concerned about public image. The coalition gradually reached agreements with all the world’s major fast-food companies aimed at increasing pickers’ compensation and improving their working conditions.The growers who actually employed the pickers refused to transmit the money to the workers. But with the big food retailers eager to rid themselves of the taint of exploitation, growers and their associations will begin to accept that the coalition’s goals are economically reasonable, morally imperative and politically irresistible.” read more

“Victory long time coming for Florida tomato pickers,” St. Petersburg Times, 10/16/10

“… the deal with PTG is a game-changer. The Palmetto-based tomato producer is one of the state’s largest and most established. The agreement and the good feelings expressed by both parties at the announcement signal a new era of cooperation. There will be an accounting system set up and third-party auditing to ensure that workers receive the extra penny. Workers will also be involved in new health and safety programs, and a new system for grievances will be established in which a neutral third party will help resolve complaints…” read more

October 14, 2010


Press Conference to Announce
Agreement with Pacific Tomato Growers
October 13, 2010

Click on the first thumbnail below to see the full-size image, then click through the rest of the images with your right arrow key:



October 13, 2010

Lucas Benitez, left, of the CIW shakes hands with Jon Esformes of Pacific Tomato Growers following yesterday’s press conference at Pacific’s Immokalee farm. Rev. Russell Meyer, Executive Director of Florida Council of Churches, looks on. Photo by Andrew West, Ft. Myers News-Press.
See a complete photo gallery here.

Media Round-up: What they’re saying about yesterday’s big announcement…

Ft. Myers News-Press:

“For Jon Esformes, operating partner of Pacific, the announcement was a chance to acknowledge the industry’s sins and promise to help transform the future. Quoting the late philosopher and rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Esformes said, ‘Few are guilty, but all are responsible’. … The transgressions that took place are totally unacceptable today and they were totally unacceptable yesterday.'” read more

Yesterday’s announcement of the breakthrough agreement between the CIW and Pacific Tomato Growers generated a good deal of coverage. Here below are excerpts from several of the reports, with links to the full articles.

[NB: Pictures from yesterday’s announcement — rightly described as an “emotional Immokalee farm field news conference” by the Ft. Myers News-Press — will be posted soon. Thanks for your patience!]


Wall St. Journal (“Major grower to join wage plan,” 10/14/10): The Wall St. Journal piece was excellent, but what really stood out was the incredible visual timeline of the history of the Campaign for Fair Food that accompanied the article, copied here below (read the article in its entirety here, where you can also find a full-sized, more legible version of the timeline):


Ft. Myers News-Press (“Tomato grower, harvesters strike historic accord,” 10/14/10):

“The deal is just a first step but one that can lead “a model for generations of farmworkers and farmers to come,” said the coalition’s Lucas Benitez.Author and coalition ally Eric Schlosser, who’s testified at Senate hearings on the tomato industry, agreed. Not only should the agreement be replicated throughout Florida, it should be a model for grower/worker partnerships in the 21st century…

… FGCU instructor Tim Durham, who grew up on a New York vegetable farm and lectures on agriculture, believes the announcement heralds a coming industrywide shift.

“This is definitely going to reverberate,” Durham said. “They’ve set the bar and now their competitors will have to follow suit or they’ll have a scarlet letter.” read more

Video, Fox News (Ft. Myers, “Group wants better conditions for farm workers,” 10/14/10):


The Packer (“Pacific Tomato strikes deal with Coalition of Immokalee Workers,” 10/14/10):

“Jon Esformes, Pacific’s operating partner and chief marketing officer, said Pacific’s owners felt it was time to join with the labor group and take a stand against labor abuse cases.He said it is critical that farmworkers have the same protections white collar workers.

“Abuses have happened in agriculture,” he said. “We felt it is time the industries start to speak up and speak out loud and publicly about some of these practices that have led to some of these cases over the years and how unacceptable they are. We view this as an opportunity to partner with CIW and raise the awareness of social accountability in agriculture with the public. For us, you wake up and you realize that maybe this is something we could have done yesterday, but I am certainly not going to wait until tomorrow.” read more

Associated Press (from ABC News, “Fla. Tomato Pickers Announce New Deal with Grower,” 10/14/10):

“The agreement announced Wednesday with Pacific Tomato Growers will be put into practice during the current growing season, which has already begun. The company employs about 1,500 workers at the height of the season. It sets up several measures, including:

— Establishing an accounting system to pay the extra penny to workers, with third-party auditing. (Farmworkers earn about 45 cents per 32-pound bucket picked.)

— Involving workers in implementing and promoting health and safety programs

— Creating worker-to-worker education program on employee rights

— Providing a system for workers to file complaints against their employers in which a neutral party can help resolve disputes.” read more

Click here to see the joint press release for yesterday’s announcement. And here are a few of the statements of support for the agreement:

Statements of Support for Today’s Announcement