For Immediate Release
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RFK Center Congratulates Immokalee Workers on Whole Foods Agreement
WASHINGTON - The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights (RFK Center) congratulates the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in securing an agreement with Whole Foods on farmworkers' rights earlier this week. This agreement marks an important step toward establishing socially responsible purchasing practices within the grocery industry and recognizing basic human rights for agricultural workers in the United States. The CIW, a southwest Florida-based human rights organization of almost 4,000 farmworkers, previously secured similar agreements with Burger King, McDonald's and Yum! Brands (parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and other chains).
"It is our hope that other retail food companies -- companies like Chipotle, who shares Whole Foods' commitment to sustainable food but have yet to make that commitment real when it comes to farm labor, and companies like Subway and Walmart, who buy such large quantities of tomatoes that their responsibility for the exploitation of farmworkers surpasses that of most retail leaders -- follow these powerful examples of social responsibility," said Monika Kalra Varma, Director of RFK Center. "With their participation, the CIW and its allies will truly be able to transform the industry to bring an end to modern-day slavery and human rights violations in our agricultural fields."
Whole Foods, the Texas-based natural foods company, agreed today to pay a penny and a half per pound for Florida tomatoes back to workers and to work with the CIW to establish higher labor standards for the workers who harvest them.
RFK Center has worked with the CIW since 2003, when three of the group's leaders became the first U.S.-based human rights defenders to be awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Since that time, RFK Center has supported the CIW's innovative work to achieve equal rights for farmworkers and the end of slavery in U.S. fields. As part of the effort, RFK Center joined other allies of the CIW to found the Alliance for Fair Food to promote principles and practices of socially responsible purchasing in the corporate food industry.