March & Rally at Trader Joe's Corporate Headquarters
Friday, October 21st, 12:00noon
Join Florida tomato pickers and their student, faith and community allies in a mile-long march from a Monrovia Trader Joe's store to the nearby corporate headquarters. Participants will gather outside of Trader Joe's at 604 W. Huntington Dr. at noon, then march east on Huntington Ave. to the corporate offices on 800 S. Shamrock Ave. There, farmworkers will lead a creative action calling on Trader Joe's to support human rights for the men and women who harvest the company's tomatoes.
Join the movement for fair food and help build a food system that respects workers' rights!
National Supermarket Week of Action kicks off!
October 17, 2011 - Book-ended by national and international "Food Days," highlighted by a major mobilization on Trader Joe's headquarters in Southern California, and spurred on by consumer and farmworker indignation over the continuing and stubborn refusal on the part of supermarket industry leaders Trader Joe's, Publix, Ahold USA and Kroger to support the groundbreaking changes taking root in Florida's fields, Fair Food activists have convened the 2011 Supermarket Week of Action... coming to a grocery store near you!
The supermarket week of action (featuring supermarket protests and campaign events from coast to coast) and the Trader Joe's mobilization represent some of the first steps in a significant escalation of the movement to secure the supermarkets' support for fair wages and humane working conditions in Florida's tomato fields.
Food Justice delegation to Trader Joe's & more!
September 7, 2011 - Trader Joe's intransigence against joining the growing movement for Fair Food continues to provoke discontent amongst its customer base.
Recently a delegation of sustainable food and food justice activists in the Twin Cities visited their local Trader Joe's manager. They told him that they expect to see Trader Joe's join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program and they are not satisfied by the grocer's unverifiable claims that it has already addressed the issue. Led by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a leading national organization working for a more just and sustainable food system, the delegation should be a wake up call to Trader Joe's that the longer it refuses to support farmworkers' struggle for dignity and fair wages, the more it jeopardizes its carefully-cultivated image as an responsible organic grocer and the trust of customers that reputation has garnered. Read a report from the delegation here.
|UC Davis protest|
Elsewhere around the country, students at UC Davis held a protest at Trader Joe's highlighting that Trader Joe's unwillingness to support the Campaign for Fair Food is out of line with UC Davis' values. And in Chicago's suburbs, concerned customers have delivered dozens of manager letters and plan to deliver dozens more as well as hold several protests in order to notify Trader Joe's that Chicago's Southland stands in solidarity with the CIW.
More actions are already in the works with major protests planned for Milwaukee, New York and California in the coming weeks and months. As Trader Joe's customers cast an increasingly critical eye on the company, Trader Joe's will have little reputation left to stand on amongst those who believe in a just and sustainable food system.
That's not good enough, Trader Joe!
Trader Joe's Truth Tour in Boston
August 30, 2011 - Throughout August, members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers traveled up the East Coast on The Trader Joe's Northeast Truth Tour. Like the California Tour the month prior, the NE Tour was another powerful step in a growing movement against Trader Joe's in which communities across the country are participating (such as this delegation in the Twin Cities led by Food Justice advocates and other food chain workers).
In the hope of diffusing a groundswell of public protest, Trader Joe's is claiming to be doing a number of things to address the sweatshop conditions which have long existed in its tomato supply chain. At protests during the NE Truth Tour, many Trader Joe's store managers distributed fliers outlining these claims.
For those working in alliance with farmworkers for a just and sustainable food system, such claims will never satisfy us and indeed will only provoke us to amplify our call for justice. Just Harvest USA is offering an open rebuttal of Trader Joe's claims which will hopefully make clear to the grocer once and for all why its current course of action is not good enough.
Here's an excerpt:
Trader Joe's claims:
We will only purchase Florida-grown tomatoes from growers signed on to and abiding by the CIW code of conduct.
That's not good enough, Joe!
Your claims are unsubstantiated and therefore self-serving - you need to make a binding commitment which can be independently verified! Because you refuse to verify from whom you purchase tomatoes and in what quantities, there is no way of knowing if you are actually doing what you claim to be. And lacking a binding agreement, there is nothing to prevent you from dropping the policy when that again becomes convenient, or purchasing from a grower which has fallen out of compliance with the Code of Conduct. On a practical level, without participating in the Fair Food Program, there is not even a way for you to know if a grower is abiding by the Code of Conduct. Your opposition to an agreement which would require that you prove you're living up to your claims and would bar you from purchasing from bad actors not only indicates that your policies are insincere. It also undermines the progress that farmworkers have already achieved by signaling that the Fair Food principles are not required to maintain your business.
Trader Joe's claims:
Trader Joe's is working directly with wholesalers and growers to pay an extra penny per pound to those growers from whom we buy tomatoes grown in Florida. We have no problem paying an extra penny per pound as a "fair food" premium to certified growers.
That's not good enough, Joe!
As with the Fair Food Code of Conduct, there is no way to verify that you are actually paying the additional penny per pound to improve farmworkers' wages, or to guarantee that you will not cease the payments at your convenience. And without independent auditing, there is no way to determine whether an unscrupulous grower is simply pocketing some or all of the "fair food" premium you think is going to the workers. The CIW's Fair Food program has enforceable procedures to make certain that the payments are in fact going from the supermarkets and restaurant chains to the workers who picked their tomatoes. Such supply chain transparency is vital to the integrity of any effort to protect the rights of farmworkers. Without it your efforts are a façade. Read more...
Trader Joe's Truth Tour may be over, but we're just getting started!
Trader Joe's Truth Tour in San Francisco
July 25, 2011 - The Trader Joe's California Truth Tour was a huge success with the size of protests and show of community support growing at each new city the Coalition of Immokalee Workers visited.
Click on the links below for photo reports from each day of the tour:
- Day One: "A love story" (Santa Ana)
- Days Two and Three (Irvine and UCLA)
- Days Four and Five (Santa Cruz and San Jose)
- Days Six and Seven (Berkeley and San Francisco)
- Trader Joe's CA Truth Tour calendar of actions (dates, times and locations for actions throughout the week)
But just because the Tour is over doesn't mean that the call for Fair Food has stopped. To the contrary, consumers from the West Coast to the East and in between are gearing up for much more action to come including an East Coast Tour in August and major demonstrations at the end of September (like this one)!
In fact, many are already taking action. While the Truth Tour was rolling through Cali . . .
Fair Food activists distributed fliers and delivered manager letters at the grand openings of two Trader Joes' in the Kansas City area . . .
Chicago Fair Food held their first Trader Joe's demonstration, kicking things off right with son jarocho music . . .
About a dozen people in Philadelphia got an extremely positive response from customers who were eager to learn the truth about Trader Joe's tomatoes . . . (Trader Joe's responded by distributing the company's worn-out and convoluted PR response . . .)
Trader Joe's feeling the heat this summer
Fair Food activists outside Trader Joe's in Irvine, CA.
July 12, 2011 - As tempuratures rise across the country so too is the outrage at Trader Joe's indefensible stance against collaborating with farmworkers in Immokalee in support of Fair Food.
Trader Joe's hostile statements and dispersion of misinformation in recent weeks regarding the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Campaign for Fair Food has only added fuel to the fire of consumer discontent and public protest against the "cheap chic" grocer.
In the press, Trader Joe's is facing scrunity from:
- The OC Weekly: "CIW Asks Trader Joe's to Help Exploited Tomato Pickers" (7/11)
- The Las Vegas Weekly: "Why I am saying goodbye to Trader Joe's" (7/7)
- and award-winning journalist and author of Tomatoland Barry Estabrook: "The Profound Impact of a Penny" (6/6).
While in the streets, action is picking up as members of the CIW join protests and community get-togethers with allies from LA to San Francisco in the Trader Joe's California Truth Tour. Check out the CIW website for reports from the tour and see the listing of key events below:
Sunday, July 10 @ 11:00 am
2790 Cabot Dr. #165
Corona, CA 92883
Monday, July 11 @ 6:00 pm
Delegation to UCLA Trader Joe's
1000 Glendon Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tuesday, July 12 @ 6:00 pm*
UC Irvine Trader Joe's
4225 Campus Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612
(* Dinner & dialogue with CIW members immediately following action.)
Thursday, July 14 @ 6:00 pm*
Downtown Trader Joe's
700 Front St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(* Dinner & dialogue with CIW members immediately following action.)
San Jose/South Bay
Friday, July 15 @ 6:00 pm*
Coleman Ave. Trader Joe's
635 Coleman Ave.
San Jose, CA 95110
(* Dinner & dialogue with CIW members immediately following action.)
Saturday, July 16 @ 9:00 am
Farmworker Justice Breakfast & Trader Joe's Action
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists
1924 Cedar St.
Berkeley, CA 94709
Breakfast reception & presentation by CIW members, followed by short march to Trader Joe's on University Ave. (1885 University Ave., Berkeley)
Sunday, July 17 @ 4:00 pm
Fair Food Panel Discussion & March through Mission District to SOMA Trader Joe's
Center for Political Education
522 Valencia St. (3rd floor)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Fair food panel discussion at the Center for Political Education (and live Son Jarocho music!), followed by short march through San Francisco's Mission District to the SOMA Trader Joe's (555 9th St.)
If you live in or near one of the areas listed above, and you'd like to let Trader Joe's know that you support workers in Immokalee and the Campaign for Fair Food, be sure to contact Damara Luce, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at 510-725-8752.
The Tour will be laying the groundwork for much more to come in California this summer, with major actions planned for September on both the west and east coasts! So, stay tuned for much more news -- including photos, first-hand reports, and videos -- from the California Trader Joe's Tour in the coming week, and more in the months ahead as Trader Joe's long, hot summer gets underway...
A Brief History of the Trader Joe's Campaign
|A Trader Joe's customer in San Francisco takes a break from shopping to learn more about the Campaign for Fair Food.|
June 1, 2011 - For several years, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and its allies attempted to quietly persuade Trader Joe's -- the highly profitable "cheap-chic" grocer that is considered one of the "world's most ethical companies" -- to join the Fair Food program, an innovative, industry-wide solution to the decades-old problem of farmworker poverty.
And for several years, Trader Joe's has ducked the issue and remained content to buy cheap Florida tomatoes, no questions asked.
Driven by their mounting frustration, consumers in New York City launched the opening salvo in a national protest campaign last August. Similar consumer actions were soon bubbling up in the company's traditional West Coast strongholds, including Berkeley and San Francisco.
While consumer action continued to escalate throughout the fall and winter, farmworkers from the CIW were finally able to join a Trader Joe's picket line as part of their "Do the Right Thing" Tour. Since that action, however, Trader Joe's attitude has noticeably hardened, indicating that a protracted struggle lies ahead. Undaunted, Fair Food activists continued to organize Trader Joe's protests and educational activities throughout the month of April, culminating in a day of action with 23 events nationwide on May 1st.
On April 7th -- and again on May 11th -- Trader Joe's broke its near silence and posted responses on its website to the Campaign for Fair Food. On the one hand, this confirms that the company is concerned about the rapid growth of the campaign and the obvious tendency of its customer base to be sympathetic towards the farmworkers' modest demands. On the other hand, Trader Joe's tone and substance in both of these messages falls somewhere between, in the words of the CIW, "dishonest to downright dirty."
But feel free to judge for yourself. For your convenience, we've assembled the CIW's recent responses to Trader Joe's website posts:
- May 18th: "Say it ain't so, Trader Joe's! Trader Joe's plays fast and loose with the facts, shows disturbing willingness to resort to innuendo, echoing darkest days of Burger King campaign..."
- May 23rd: "CIW point-by-point response to Trader Joe's second 'Note to Our Customers on Florida Tomatoes and the CIW'"
- May 25th: "Debunking -- and decoding -- Trader Joe's: 'We'll endorse the Fair Food Code of Conduct, we just won't enforce it...'"
- May 26th: "Trader Joe's customers talk back: 'Note to Trader Joe's from its customers, via the CIW'"
This isn't over yet, so contact us to get involved and stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead for more developments in the Trader Joe's campaign!
Trader Joe's campaign reaches new heights:
23 May Day events nationwide!
May 7, 2011 - Over the weekend of May 1st, Fair Food activists nationwide organized 23 creative educational events calling on Trader Joe's to partner with the CIW to address farmworker exploitation in its tomato supply chain. From New York City to Santa Ana, CA (pictured above), these actions marked the culmination of a month of escalating pressure in the Trader Joe's campaign.
The events also garnered media attention in key Trader Joe's markets, including coverage in the New York-based L Magazine ("Trader Joe's tomatoes a target of Sunday's labor protest," 4/29/11).
It's abundantly clear that Trader Joe's is feeling pressure from the campaign. On April 7, Trader Joe's posted an update to its website entitled, "A Note to our Customers About Florida Tomatoes," which claimed that:
"Trader Joe's is working directly with wholesalers and growers to pay an extra penny per pound to all growers from whom we buy tomatoes grown in Florida. We have no problem paying an extra penny per pound as a 'fair food' premium to certified growers. We have been told that the CIW will not allow their partner-growers to accept and pass on the penny-per-pound premium from Trader Joe's without Trader Joe's signing their agreement."
The CIW, however, quickly responded in full:
"... While it is comforting to hear that Trader Joe’s apparently no longer has a problem with paying a penny per pound to support human rights, there are two fundamental problems with the company’s new found claim to social responsibility:
1) There is no way to verify it, and
2) There is no binding commitment behind the new policy, and therefore no way to enforce it..."
Last weekend's actions are further evidence that, like the CIW, consumers are also unsatisfied by Trader Joe's clever attempts at evasion and misdirection. Until Trader Joe's signs a Fair Food agreement with the CIW, the consumer movement will only continue to grow in both size and determination.
Spring blitz: Turn up the heat on Trader Joe's!
April 3, 2011 - For several years, the CIW and its allies have attempted to persuade Trader Joe's -- the highly profitable "cheap-chic" grocer that is considered one of the "world's most ethical companies" -- to join the Fair Food program, an innovative solution to the decades-old problem of farmworker poverty. However Trader Joe's continues to duck the issue of exploitation in its tomato supply chain.
Yet as long as Trader Joe's refuses to join the CIW's Fair Food program, there is no credible mechanism for Trader Joe's to verify that its own minimal standards are being met, much less a commitment to forge a higher set of standards through direct partnership with farmworkers themselves.
Trader Joe's now runs more than 350 stores in the U.S. with sales topping $8 billion in 2009. (The German owner of Trader Joe's -- Theo Albrecht -- who recently passed away at the age of 88, had an estimated net worth of $16.7 billion, making him the 31st wealthiest person in the world.) And yet behind this multi-billion dollar, feel-good brand lies a brutal reality of farmworker degradation, including sub-poverty wages, the denial of fundamental labor rights, and rampant wage theft and sexual harassment.
Thousands fight for Fair Food along East Coast!
Do the Right Thing Tour highlights include major actions in Boston and Tampa!
March 10, 2011 - After 3,000 miles and nine days on the road, a busload of farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) concluded the Do the Right Thing Tour with a major mobilization in Tampa targeting Publix Super Markets. Over 1,500 people marched in Tampa, capping off an unforgettable week of action along the East Coast, the spirit of which is captured in the video below. In addition to Publix, the tour also increased public pressure on supermarket giants Stop & Shop and Trader Joe's.
Stay tuned for more news in the Campaign for Fair Food in the coming weeks!
Trader Joe's feels the heat in New York City!
Photo by Robert Teicher/WSU News
150 Fair Food activists march outside Manhattan storefront!
Feb. 11, 2011 - On Sunday, over 150 Fair Food activists participated in a lively demonstration outside of Trader Joe's popular Union Square location, calling on the retailers to sign a Fair Food agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Trader Joe's competitor Whole Foods signed a similar accord in 2009.
The protest was part of a weekend-long Northeast Encuentro hosted by the intrepid, New York-based Community/Farmworker Alliance. The action generated a wave media coverage, including a strongly worded editorial from the New York University student newspaper, the Washington Square News ("Trader Joe's should value its workers," 2/7/11). Here's an excerpt:
The CIW has already made tremendous strides in working with McDonald's, Taco Bell and Burger King to gain higher wages, better working conditions and continued diligence in identifying workplace abuses. There is no reason that Trader Joe's — a company that, in its "Careers" section, states that "quality benefits play a vital role in promoting the health and well-being of our Crew Members and their families" — can't give its farmworkers the same respect it gives to its in-store employees...
We feel that what is most disappointing is the unwritten credo of Trader Joe's and how it has been betrayed by the company's refusal to acknowledge the workers' demands. As consumers of its Union Square branch, we feel that we are strongly drawn to the store due to its reputation as an environmentally friendly and socially conscious corporation. Its recent behavior, however, has been anything but socially conscious and instead appears more irresponsible, avaricious and careless. Read more.
And don't miss these two additional articles on the Trader Joe's campaign here:
- "Workers' alliance protests Trader Joe's labor policies," Washington Square News, 2/7/11
- "Is Trader Joe's short-changing farmworker justice?" Grist.org, 2/10/11
Campaign for Fair Food announces "Do the Right Thing Tour!"
Jan. 24, 2011 - The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and its Fair Food allies announced today its "Do the Right Thing Tour!" The tour will kick off with a major protest in Boston, MA against Ahold USA (parent of Giant and Stop & Shop), and then work its down down the Atlantic Coast, culminating in two days of actions in Tampa, FL targeting Publix. As explained on the CIW website:
Florida farmworkers have long faced brutal conditions in the fields, including sub-poverty wages, widespread labor rights violations, and even modern-day slavery. Today, however, there is hope on the horizon, thanks to the efforts of farmworkers, Fair Food activists, Florida tomato growers, and nine food industry leaders who have joined in support of the CIW's Fair Food principles, including a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process. But Publix and Ahold are refusing to do their part, and if they have their way, the unprecedented farm labor transformation promised by the CIW's landmark agreement with the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange would be significantly diminished. Farmworkers' hopes for an end to the decades-long "Harvest of Shame" would be dashed.
Publix founder George Jenkins used to say, "Don't let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing." The people who are running Publix and Ahold today have taken Mr. Jenkins' wise counsel and stood it squarely on its head.
Make plans to join us for the actions in Boston or Tampa or points in between!