Save the date!
Background: Today, in the wake of the Yum Brands and McDonald’s agreements, we stand on the threshold of a more modern, more humane agricultural industry in Florida. Yet, facing this historic opportunity, Burger King seems to have chosen business as usual over progress, continued exploitation over justice. It is time for Burger King to seize the moment and stand with Florida's tomato pickers in our fight for fundamental human rights in the fields. This march is the next step in moving Burger King out of the way of progress and behind the principles of the Campaign for Fair Food.
What: MARCH ON BURGER KING HEADQUARTERS in Miami, Florida.
When: Friday November 30th, 2007
Details: Mark your calendars and start organizing today to join us at Burger King’s headquarters in Miami this November for:
Contact: Email organize (at) sfalliance.org for more details on the mobilization and for help in organizing your community to join us in Miami.
In the spring of 2005, Taco Bell and the CIW announced an historic initiative to address the ever-deepening poverty and decades of degradation faced by farmworkers in Florida. At that time, Taco Bell called on its fast-food industry counterparts to join in demanding fair wages and humane treatment for the workers who pick their tomatoes.
In April of this year, following a hard-fought campaign, the CIW and McDonald’s announced a similar agreement, whereby the world’s largest restaurant chain pledged to not only meet the standards set in the Taco Bell accord, but to help extend those standards to the industry level. Specifically, McDonald’s committed to work with the CIW to develop an industry-wide mechanism for monitoring labor conditions in the fields and investigating workers’ complaints of abuse. Like Taco Bell, McDonald’s challenged the rest of the fast-food industry to step up to these higher standards.
Shortly after the McDonald’s agreement was reached, Yum Brands, Taco Bell’s parent company, announced that it was extending its agreement with the CIW to cover the rest of its five major fast-food brands – Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silver’s, and A&W Restaurants. With that announcement, the CIW secured the support of both the largest restaurant company in the world (Yum Brands) and the world’s largest restaurant chain (McDonald’s), building unprecedented momentum for an industry-wide effort to secure long-overdue justice in Florida’s fields.
Burger King, however, has stubbornly refused to require these higher standards of its tomato suppliers. While Yum Brands and McDonald’s have demonstrated that it is both necessary and possible to improve farm labor conditions, Burger King has continued to ignore the exploitation of the workers who pick its tomatoes, and refused to work with the CIW to address that exploitation. Instead, it has chosen to side with Florida tomato growers in their efforts to maintain an unconscionable status quo, supporting the growers’ efforts to undermine the hard-won advances in wages and working conditions established in the agreements with Taco Bell and McDonald’s.
Yet Burger King, as the only major fast-food company headquartered in South Florida, is much closer than any of its competitors to the shameful reality in Florida’s tomato fields today. Company executives need only open their morning papers to read the steady drumbeat of headlines and exposes, with such recent titles as “Fields of Desperation – Destitute Farmworkers Exploited” (Miami Herald) and “Modern Day Slavery – Still Harvesting Shame” (Palm Beach Post).
Furthermore, Burger King is hardly a passive observer of farmworker exploitation. Rather, the fast-food giant plays an active role in keeping farmworkers poor. A May, 2005, article published in the produce industry journal “The Packer” describes in detail how fast-food industry demands for lower prices are passed on to farmworkers in the form of wage cuts. The article, entitled, “Big fast-food contracts breaking tomato re-packers,” cites the example of a recent move by Burger King to demand still lower tomato prices from its suppliers as evidence of its claims.
Justice delayed is justice denied. It is time, finally, for Burger King to stop resisting progress and to start working for justice. It is time, finally, for Burger King to join the CIW, McDonald’s and Taco Bell in defining the way forward, a path to more humane conditions for the workers who pick its tomatoes.
In April as we celebrated the McDonald’s victory, we promised that Burger King would hear from us by the end of the year if it continued to stand in the way of change. Today, we encourage our allies in Florida and across the country to help us keep that promise – and the promise of dignified and fair conditions for farmworkers – by joining us in Miami on November 30th and participating in what is sure to be an exciting march, rally, and weekend of events.
Contact organize (at) sfalliance.org for more info on the action.
PO Box 603, Immokalee, FL 34143 :: (239) 657-8311 :: organize (at) sfalliance.org