Traitor Joe's Campaign

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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, claiming that, "At Trader Joe’s, we work with reputable suppliers that have a strong record of providing safe and healthy work environments and we will continue to make certain that our vendors are meeting if not exceeding government standards throughout all aspects of their businesses."

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.

In other words, Trader Joe's response is simply unacceptable. Until the company signs a Fair Food agreement with the CIW, it can expect growing discontent from consumers across the country.

[Note: On May 11, 2011 - as well as previously on April 7 - in response to mounting pressure from the Campaign for Fair Food, Trader Joe's posted an update on its website entitled, "A Note to our Customers about Florida tomatoes." Over the following days, the CIW answered in full with an extensive three-part response including a point-by-point rebuttal. Click here to read the CIW responses, "The Trader Joe's Triology."]

Take Action

  1. Get connected: There are many people taking action in support of the Trader Joe's campaign. Contact us to find out if there are other people in your community who you could team up with on the campaign.

  2. Manager letter: Download and print this manager letter, bring it to your local Trader Joe's, and ask to speak with the manager. Typically, the manager is stationed towards the front of the store near the checkout lanes. Deliver the letter, let the manager know that you want Trader Joe's to participate in the CIW's Fair Food program, and emphasize that you want your concerns shared with the corporate office. Please encourage friends, family and members of your community to do the same. It's a simple action, but it goes a long way! When you deliver a letter, please email us to let us know how it went.

  3. Leafleting action: Together with friends or your organization, stand outside of Trader Joe's on the sidewalk, hold a banner, and hand out informational flyers to customers. Please take a few photos, if possible, and email them to us – along with a brief report of how things went. If customers are supportive, ask them to sign and deliver a manager letter while they shop. For action resources, click here.

  4. Creative actions: The Community/Farmworker Alliance in New York City designed a creative action called "Sampling Justice." Here how it works: stand outside of Trader Joe's with a tray that has small sample cups filled with one penny each. As customers approach, ask them if they'd like a “sample of justice.” Then explain the significance of a single penny-per-pound in the lives of farmworkers and the opportunity that Trader Joe's has to support this historic campaign. If the customer is receptive, ask him or her to give the penny to the store manager as a sign of support for the Campaign for Fair Food. Click here to watch a short video of "Sampling Justice." For another example of a creative action in Berkeley, CA using music, click here.

  5. Protest: As you build support for campaign in your community, plan a larger protest outside of Trader Joe's during a busy store time. Host a sign-making party to produce colorful signs, request a Traitor Joe's banner from us, print plenty of flyers, and ask participants to bring musical instruments, noisemakers and bullhorns to the action. Once there, your group can begin the action by delivering a letter to the manager and explaining to him or her why you'll be outside protesting. During the protest, you can walk in circles on the sidewalk outside of the store, lead chants, and hand out flyers. Be sure to take photos and email them to us, along with a brief description of the protest.

  6. E-action: Click here to send an email to the CEO of Trader Joe's, Dan Bane.

  7. Postcards to the CEO: Send a postcard to Dan Bane, the CEO of Trader Joe's, stating your support for the Campaign for Fair Food. Email us to request pre-printed postcards for yourself and your community.