Tale of Two Wal-Marts

Big news was announced on January 16th when Wal-Mart and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) signed an historic agreement for the world’s largest retailer to join the CIW’s Fair Food Program.  As part of the agreement, Walmart will work with the CIW to expand the Fair Food Program beyond Florida and into “other crops beyond tomatoes in its produce supply chain.”

According to Alexandra Guáqueta, chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the Fair Food Program is a “smart mix” of monitoring and enforcement tools, including “market incentives for growers and retailers, monitoring policies and, crucially, a robust and accessible mechanism to resolve complaints and provide remedy,” adding, “Workers have no fear of retaliation if they identify problems.” Read more here.

Walmart, CIW, Fair Food Standards Council, Florida growers, and a UN representative gather at CIW headquarters for a discussion of the Fair Food Program before the signing ceremony outside of Immokalee

Over the years, the CIW has had solid success with their campaign efforts, including key with everyone from Taco Bell to Whole Foods. To learn more about the CIW and their work, please see Supermarkets, Tomatoes and Farmworker Justice from Fair World Project’s “For a Better World” Fall 2012 edition.

Wal-Mart’s involvement in the CIW’s Fair Food Program doesn’t erase their decades of worker and farmer abuse, nor fundamentally address their unsustainable business model. Without addressing serious abuses in its supply chain, Wal-Mart’s work with the CIW will be little more than “fair washing” its image. Importantly, Wal-Mart continues to face ongoing pressure from a strong coalition of civil society organizations, including OUR Walmart, Jobs With Justice, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, National Guestworkers Alliance, National Family Farm Coalition, United Farm Workers, United Workers Congress and Warehouse Workers United released a statement renewing their call for justice in light of the federal Labor Board’s landmark decision to prosecute Walmart for its aggressive violations of workers’ rights in 14 states and a decision by a California court to name Walmart in a massive wage theft lawsuit at warehouses.

OUR Walmart member Martha Sellers, who works at Walmart in Paramount, CA said: “Walmart must publicly commit to increase wages and improve working conditions for the hundreds of thousands of us who work in Walmart’s retail stores, warehouses, global supply chain, food processing plants and those who harvest food. As the largest retailer and employer in the country and the world, Walmart can have an impact on strengthening the US and global economy by improving jobs.

Read the statement and learn more here.


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