I’m going to be honest–my main understanding and experience with human trafficking as been more about sex trafficking. Labor trafficking is something that I’ve known about for awhile, but that I haven’t know a lot of detail about, and when I think of labor trafficking, I think of the sweat shops overseas, but there is labor trafficking in the US as well–until they stood up to change things.
The fair foods programs was started by tomato pickers in FL who started their day at 5 am by getting on a bus to go out to the farms, where they had to sit and wait for the dew to dry (they were not paid for this wait time), and then began picking and filling buckets until they returned home at 8 PM. They were paid roughly $40 for one day’s labor. Now I don’t know about you, but I make almost that much in meeting with one client for about 2 hours. There are times when I only see one client in a day, but usually I see at least two, sometimes three, and I get paid for transit time in between in addition to being reimbursed for gas–and I live right around the poverty line. I survive because I get a check for $1800 quarterly as a financial aid refund for school, and these workers make much less than I do. Finally, they got tired of it.
They instituted something called the Fair Foods Program, which demands that the “big buyers” (restaurants and supermarkets) pay an extra penny per pound on tomatoes they buy, and only to buy from farms that institute fair labor practices. Now I get that a penny per pound doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up, both for the working and the companies. About a million dollars more in costs is not something that a lot of companies take on, however, compared to their billons of dollars in profits….it’s not that much of a sacrifice to make. Add to that, if they want to pass on this cost to their customers–it’s only an additional 44 cents for the customers. I think I can handle an extra 44 cents, even with my low income if it allows the people who are picking the tomatoes a livable wage.
To learn more about their story, watch the documentary Food Chains (2013), which can be purchased here for $1.99 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2141739/. The documentary is also on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Or check out their website http://www.fairfoodprogram.org/
The companies that have joined: Yum Brands (2005), McDonald’s (2007), Burger King (2008), Whole Foods Market (2008), Subway (2008), Bon Appetite Management Company (2009), Compass Group (2009), Aramark (2010), Sodexo (2010), Trader Joe’s (2012), Chipotle Mexican Grill (2012), Walmart (2014), Fresh Market (2015), & Ahold USA (2015).
I should also note that the first company that the Fair Foods Program recruited was Taco Bell according to Food Chains, although they did not appear on the list of partners.
Companies that are holding out and are especially being targeted by the campaign: Publix in FL and Wendy’s. There are obviously others as there are many, many more supermarkets and restaurants that buy tomatoes, but these are the ones I know of that the Fair Foods Program is looking to gain support from. Now, I know for those of you who aren’t in FL (like me) don’t have much influence where Publix is concerned, but Wendy’s is everywhere. Let’s show them that there are consequences for not treating their workers well. Let’s boycott Wendy’s. Blow up their social media–get to tweeting and posting on Facebook or whatever social media platform you use and spread the word-no more Wendy’s food until they get on board. Who’s with me?