Last week’s announcement that Ahold USA became the first major grocer to join the CIW’s Fair Food Program caused quite the stir in the media as the news spread to mainstream and alternative sources across the country.
The Associated Press picked it up early, whose piece was syndicated in hundreds of papers from coast to coast, while the Naples Daily News and Fort Myers News-Press offered a local perspective. The Washington Post had their own take, asking why in comparison to the widespread growth of the organic label, a workers rights label has been slower to become a grocery store standard — noting, however, that this September, 50 million shoppers per month at the 780 Giant Foods and Stop & Shop stores in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic will find the Fair Food label in the tomato aisle.
Food blog Civil Eats ran a piece by best-selling author Barry Estabrook (“Tomatoland”), foreshadowing the impact that the agreement with Ahold could have on other major grocers:
… Ahold’s joining the Fair Food Program is the latest success in CIW efforts that began nearly two decades ago. The group’s victories have followed a clear pattern. The first overtures made by the CIW to the end buyers were inevitably stonewalled. Then, after a period of petitions, demonstrations, fasts, and other actions by the CIW—that often went on for years—one player in a business sector agreed to join the program, setting off a domino effect as its competitors scrambled to come on board. It took the CIW a decade to achieve its first major victory by convincing Taco Bell to join, and then only a few years for McDonald’s, Subway, and Burger King to agree. (Wendy’s is the only large fast-food chain that is still holding out.) Bon Appétit Management, which provides food service to universities, museums, and corporations, joined of its own accord, and was soon followed by its competitors Sodexo and Aramark. If the pattern continues, Ahold will be the first domino among the supermarket chains. Read more
A piece in Common Dreams, interviewing Gerardo Reyes Chavez of the CIW, echoed this sentiment:
“A testament to the CIW's growing momentum, the Fair Food program includes numerous proactive provisions, like protecting workers' rights to organize and educate each other, that prompted the Washington Post to call the model "one of the great human rights success stories of our day."
Gerardo Reyes Chavez, a farmworker, organizer, and member of the CIW, told Common Dreams: "We are really happy that Ahold USA came on board. It's a very important moment in the campaign for fair food because it sends a powerful message to other corporations that haven't signed."
"We have an active campaign in the supermarket industry and are focusing our call on urging Publix and Kroger Super Market to join, as well as Wendy's," Chavez continued. "We feel that if we continue with the campaign for fair food in all the country, we are going to be seeing dramatic changes in the lives of workers, not just in Florida or the East Coast, but in building a different reality for all workers.” Read more
As the news around the agreement indicates, the Fair Food Program shows no signs of slowing down, but only becomes stronger as each agreement builds upon the last. Right now, worker-to-worker education teams are meeting with hundreds of fellow workers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, sharing with them about their hard-earned rights under the Fair Food Program. In Florida, the CIW is gearing up for another tomato season — and what promises to be an unprecedented year of action and progress for Fair Food. Stay tuned!