Seeking Living Wage and Humane Conditions, Workers Bring Fair Food Struggle to Chipotle
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RENEE FELTZ: What about the reason that Chipotle will not sign a contract. Why are you concerns?
CHRIS ARNOLD: The last time that we looked at this, which was about three years ago, there were provisions in the agreement that we had trouble with. The agreement takes into consideration only variables that matter to CIW, and there are a lot of things that matter to us in terms of sourcing the ingredients that we use. The point that gave us the most concern was, at the time, there were no growers initially who were purchasing in CIW’s program, and then only one, initially, when the first [Inaudible] came on line. Yet, the agreement requires that if you go outside of that system, you do so only with CIW’s approval. That is not a degree of control over our supply that we are going to relinquish to anybody, if we can’t get ingredients that meet our high standards, we need to have the flexibility to go to other sources. We are not going to compromise the quality of the food that we serve. In effect, that provision in the agreement would have required that. Now, things have changed some since that agreement. Today, 90% of Florida’s tomatoes are grown under that agreement. So, it is entirely possible that it is no longer an issue.
RENEE FELTZ: Do you think that the company may reconsider now to sign a contract, in part, for example, because the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has presented the failure to sign the contract, so far, possibly as putting concerns over quality over concerns about the human rights for the workers? Do you think Chipotle may now reconsider signing the contract with them for the Fair Food Program?
CHRIS ARNOLD: Yeah, I think that’s certainly a possibility.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Chris Arnold, spokesperson for Chipotle speaking to Democracy Now!'s Renée Feltz. Gerardo Reyes-Chavez, he's saying that they are weighing signing onto this contract.
GERARDO REYES-CHAVEZ: Yeah, there has been six years since they were first approached. There has been a lot of agreements that have been signed with other corporations, ten in total; Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, just to give a few for examples. Through that, through the Campaign for Fair Food, which is the approach that consumers nationwide are taking with us to convince corporations to motivate them to do the right thing. We have been able to create a fair food program which is addressing the abuses that have been historically happening in the tomato industry. For the first time, we created a whole new system to eliminate the abuses, to identify where abuses are going on and uproot them from the system. This is an opportunity for Chipotle to do the right thing. They claim that they sell food with integrity and they are really focused with the sustainability part of that conversation as one of the main spokes-corporation. What we are saying is that this is an opportunity for them to make it a reality.
AMY GOODMAN: But, they say they are making it a reality even without signing. That 90% of tomatoes grown in Florida actually use this contract.
GERARDO REYES-CHAVEZ: It is true that 90% of the tomato industry is on board with us, but the question is, all of them need the support of the corporations buying. And the corporations need to pay a premium that addresses poverty wages and that corporations need also to be able to cut purchases, if necessary, when there are abuses that are violated.
AMY GOODMAN: October 6th, this Saturday, you’re having a rally here. Your message to Chipotle at this big festival?