"America's agricultural workers do jobs that are far more difficult and dangerous than the average retail or restaurant worker, yet these jobs are critical to our entire food chain. When I met with workers in the fields and saw first-hand how difficult their lives are, I knew that I could not, in good conscience, contribute to such a system. We buy almost five million pounds of tomatoes a year. I decided to use that power to make a real difference in the supply chain," said Fedele Bauccio, ceo of Bon Appetit.
"The future of a fairer tomato industry is being written today, and this agreement is a rough draft. It's not a final product, and it's not meant to be. But it is a great first cut at building a relationship between farm workers and their employers based on a genuine appreciation for the value of farm workers' labor - something that has been absent since the birth of the agricultural industry in Florida - and driven by a vision of universal human rights. We see this as a golden opportunity for Florida's smaller, family-scale farmers to gain access to a market that has traditionally been beyond their reach, and to help elevate Florida's agricultural industry in the process," said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW.
The agreement includes guarantees of real improvements in wages and working conditions, and provides preferential purchasing incentives for growers who are willing to raise the bar further. Highlights of the agreement include:
• A "Minimum Fair Wage"
• An end to traditional forms of wage abuse. Growers will be required to use time clocks and reconcile wages paid with pounds harvested.
• Worker empowerment.
• Worker safety
• Third-party monitoring