Kroger Says ‘No’ to Farmworkers

Elena Stein, Alliance for Fair Food, and Julia de la Cruz, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, speak to supporters before entering the June 2015 Kroger shareholder meeting.

For six years, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has come to the Kroger shareholder meeting in Cincinnati asking the company to join the Fair Food Program. The farmworkers are asking Kroger to ensure the end to worker abuse in the tomato fields, the base of the company’s supply chain, and to offer its consumers fresh produce that has been ethically grown and picked.

Once again, Kroger said ‘no’ to the farmworkers. At the meeting, Kroger announced plans to increase dividends 13.5 percent and repurchase $500 million of corporate stock. (See related C4AD post: Stock buybacks foster inequality, stifle innovation and growth)

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is an organization of farmworkers internationally recognized for its work to end a long history of abuse in the tomato fields of Florida. The White House awarded the CIW with the Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts in Combating Modern Slavery.

The New York Times called the Fair Food Program the best workplace monitoring program… in the US.”

Thirteen corporations are participating in the Fair Food Program. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, joined in January 2014. Others include Aramark, Bon Appetit Management Company, Burger King, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Compass Group, The Fresh Market, McDonald’s, Sodexo, Subway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, and Yum Brands.

Kroger and Wendy’s, another Ohio corporation, have refused to join the Fair Food Program. 

By Mike Brown. Contact Mike at mbrown.c4ad@gmail.com.