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When I was a young girl living in Jackson Michigan, we marched on picket lines against A&P and Farmer Jack grocery stores – they sold non-union grapes & lettuce which led to the suppression of wages for our nation’s farm workers.  I spent my 13th birthday on a picket line with mom planning on getting arrested and it was all for a good cause.  The people who helped get the food to our tables were working for near slave-wages, and even at that young age I knew it was wrong.

We don’t hear much about Caesar Chavez or the United Farm Workers any more, but there are many who struggle day in and day out in the fields, often picking 2 tons of tomatoes for Burger King suppliers in order to earn just $50 for a day’s labor.

It’s still wrong.  This is a shout-out to ask you to help put pressure on Burger King – they need to follow McDonald’s lead and insure that their suppliers pay a fair wage to the people who labor to pick the food we eat each day.

Sojourners is helping with this effort, and just sent me an email about it...

Worse yet, modern-day slavery has reemerged in Florida's fields; since 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted five slavery rings, freeing more than 1,000 workers. As a major buyer of Florida tomatoes, Burger King's purchasing practices place downward pressure on farm worker wages and put corporate profits before human dignity.

snip

Burger King -- the second-largest hamburger chain in the world -- has so far refused to work with farm workers and heed the call of the faith community to improve wages and working conditions for those who pick their tomatoes.

Burger King is able to pool the buying power of thousands of restaurants to extract the lowest possible tomato prices from its suppliers. But these artificially cheap tomatoes come at a high cost for farm workers.

snip

Send a letter to Burger King CEO John Chidsey to call on Burger King to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to ensure fair wages and human rights for farm workers in its tomato supply chain:

CLICK HERE to send a message to Burger King CEO John Chidsey

The AFL-CIO is involved in this effort and have the following on their web-log...

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) asks us to post this call to action for workers who pick tomatoes for the nation’s fast-food industry.  

Just two months ago, farm workers from southwest Florida, represented by the CIW, won a groundbreaking agreement with fast-food giant McDonald’s to improve wages and working conditions in the fields that supply the world’s largest restaurant chain with its tomatoes.

The McDonald’s agreement builds and expands upon an earlier agreement won by the CIW and its allies after a four-year boycott of Taco Bell, part of the giant restaurant company Yum! Brands Inc., and sets a clear path to real rights and decent pay for farm workers.  

Miami-based Burger King, the world’s second-largest burger chain, has rejected working with the CIW to improve farm worker wages and conditions, even though it recently announced an initiative to improve the living conditions of farm animals in its supply chain. Burger King still refuses to agree to the principles signed onto by Yum! and McDonald’s. Rather than pay tomato workers a decent wage and improve working conditions, Burger King claims it’s not possible to institute those same principles in their supply chain.

Instead, Burger King announced its own plan to address farm worker poverty. In a press statement earlier this year, Burger King declared:

We have spoken to CIW representatives about our interest in recruiting interested Immokalee workers into the Burger King system. We have offered to send Burger King Corporation recruiters to the area to speak with the CIW and with workers themselves about permanent, full-time employment at Burger King restaurants. Burger King Corporation offers ongoing professional training and advancement opportunities around the country for both entry-level and skilled employee jobs, and we are hopeful the CIW will accept our offer.

Rather than work with the CIW to support the principles of fair pay and decent conditions established in the Taco Bell agreement, Burger King has chosen to offer empty alternatives that show a complete disregard for the reality of human rights abuses in Florida’s fields and the company’s role in contributing to those abuses.

In response to the Burger King statement, CIW spokesperson Lucas Benitez said:

It’s simple. The farm workers who pick tomatoes for Burger King are among this country’s worst paid, least protected workers. They earn poverty wages, have no right to overtime pay even when they work 60 to 70 hour a week, and have no right to organize. And Burger King has an active hand in creating these unconscionable conditions, as its enormous volume purchasing power allows it to demand lower and lower prices for its tomatoes, resulting in lower and lower wages for already exploited workers.

Yet, when presented with the opportunity to take a stand against the exploitation of farm workers in their home state, Burger King executives refused. Incredibly they actually offered to address farm worker poverty by retraining tomato pickers to work in Burger King’s restaurants—eliminating farm worker poverty by eliminating farm workers—adding insult to injury with such an obviously unworkable, and frankly pretty ridiculous, idea.

For anyone wishing to contact Burger King directly (down in Miami), you can get more information on their Corporate Contact Page.

Corporate Offices:
Burger King Holdings, Inc.
5505 Blue Lagoon Drive
Miami, FL 33126
(305) 378–3000

Consumer relations line: (305) 378-3535

Investor Relations
Telephone: (305) 378-7696
E-mail: investor@whopper.com

I also noticed the following below the email link for investor relations...

THIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS FOR INVESTOR AND SHAREHOLDER INQUIRIES ONLY. EMAIL MESSAGES CONCERNING OTHER TOPICS SUCH AS FRANCHISING AND CUSTOMER COMMENTS WILL NOT BE FORWARDED AND THEREFORE WILL NOT RECEIVE A RESPONSE.

Looks like they’ve been getting more than a few emails on this issue and are starting to feel the heat.

So there you have it – your marching orders for today.  Nobody’s asking you to walk a picket line, get arrested or give up your Gallo Wine today.  Just send an email or make a phone call to let Burger King know you won’t darken their doorstep until they ensure that the people who labor in the fields on their behalf are paid a fair wage.

And oh yeah - think about this when you grab your lunch today.   Were  the people who picked your food paid a fair wage?

UPDATE

For anyone who's not comfortable with the Sojourners email (they're a progressive Christian group after all) you can send a more generic email to Burger King throuth the AFL-CIO site.

(Crikey!  The kid in the photo on that page could have been me out in front of the A&P 30+ years ago!)

Remember folks - we're all in this together.  If Burger King can get away with this shit, then what's to stop the rest of us from getting screwed?

Send an email - make a call - help spread the word!

UPDATE 2

Don't bother using that Sojourners link to email Burger King - I got failure notifications on mine so I'm guessing the COWARDS at Burger King disabled the email accounts.

The AFL-CIO site just gives you a letter you can print, complete & fax (305-378-3516) so at this point I would send an email to their investor relations, or better still - just call the bastids.

Originally posted to Alegre on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 09:04 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Forget the Tips - Contact Burger King & REC This (11+ / 0-)

    diary.

    The more who see this the more of an impact we'll have on getting Burger King to treat their workers fairly.

    It's the least we can do before we head out to grab lunch today.

    SaveDarfur.org WH 800-671-7887 Cong. 800-828-0498

    by Alegre on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 09:04:15 AM PDT

  •  Stepping Out for A Bite (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, viscerality, chesapeake

    Help keep this diary alive - tell us if you contacted Burger King or...

    Post a comment telling us what you had for lunch.

    How were those tomatoes anyway and do ya think the farmworkers were paid a liveable wage?

    SaveDarfur.org WH 800-671-7887 Cong. 800-828-0498

    by Alegre on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 09:22:52 AM PDT

  •  Message sent. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alegre, viscerality, Lashe, pissedpatriot
    Excellent job, Alegre. And a good message to think about:

    And oh yeah - think about this when you grab your lunch today.   Were  the people who picked your food paid a fair wage?

    In addition to sending the e-mail, I will be boycotting Burger King until I hear they have changed policy.

    My hat's off to you and anyone else who has spent time on a picket line.

    Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution.
    But where I live the game to play is compromise solution.

    •  Boycott - Goes Without Saying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viscerality, Lashe, chesapeake

      but I'm glad you mentioned it.

      If Burger King is going to have so little regard for their workers then this community of progressive activiests cannot spend our money with them.

      What they're doing goes against everything I (and I would hope everyone else here) stand for.

      We talk about basic human rights like health care and these people work their asses off all day for a measly $50.

      It's unconscionable (sp?) that this shit is happening within our borders in this day & age - it's the 21st century after all and we should know better by now.

      Apparently - Burger King hasn't gotten that memo...

      YET!

      Get busy people!

      SaveDarfur.org WH 800-671-7887 Cong. 800-828-0498

      by Alegre on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 09:48:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wouldn't eat at Burger King (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alegre, viscerality, esquimaux, Lashe

    if the food were free and you chewed and swallowed it for me. But I'll write because fair wages matter. Damn, I am just waiting for all the fast food chains go out of business. It's not really food, you know ...

    "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

    by JuliaAnn on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 09:56:58 AM PDT

  •  Message sent (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alegre, viscerality, Lashe

    I tweaked the first paragraph to personalize it because my children and I do frequent a Burger King from time to time. I thought they should know that while I liked their product that I would have a difficult time living with my consciense knowing that the product I was eating was made on the backs of poor labor practices. I told them that I hoped they would change their position. I'm not ready to give up on them because BK was convinced back when the John Kerry docuslur to stay out of politics. That and the fact that my particular BKs always go out of the way for their customers when it comes to service.

  •  Au contraire! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alegre

    Eat me, Burger King!

    Eh? Eh? How's that for a slogan? No? Okay.

    (I'll add them to my list.)

  •  I Already Boycott Burger King (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alegre

    ...and I do that for one simple reason. Of all the fast food restaurants, their food is the most fattening. If you look at the nutrition information for them, it's truly a horror show. It makes going to McDonald's look like a Weight Watchers meeting.

    "The game's easy, Harry" - Richie Ashburn

    by jpspencer on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:34:48 AM PDT

  •  Who is to boycott BK? (0+ / 0-)

    No progressive with a functioning brain eats there, so who among us needs to boycott? Or am I wrong and is there a Kossack demographic at Burger King?

    On the left coast, progressives eat at tacquerias, giving their money directly to the workers who need it.

    There is never a reason to eat at a plastic food franchise.

    So Kossack boycott of BK is meaningless. Why not organize some protests at BK headquarters. Pelting their executives with rotten tomatoes seems more appropriate, and would be popular at YouTube!

    I'm a linguist, licensed to use words any way I want to!

    by MakeChessNotWar on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 11:46:57 AM PDT

    •  ERM... (0+ / 0-)

      They don't know we're Kossaks OR that we already avoid their "food".

      Seriously - send a note through their investor relations email posted above.

      You could have called AND fired off a note in the time it took you to post your comment! =)

      SaveDarfur.org WH 800-671-7887 Cong. 800-828-0498

      by Alegre on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:21:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alegre

        not only contacted them, but I teach a lot of elementary school kids and I include messages about the evils of fast food. We examine their ads and expose the lies and tricks.

        I can't save this generation, but can help the next one avoid our mistakes.

        I'm a linguist, licensed to use words any way I want to!

        by MakeChessNotWar on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 12:54:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  MITT ROMNEY CONNECTION TO BURGER KING (0+ / 0-)

    I'm probably way late to the party on this one, but for anyone who doesn't know: Bain Capital is one of the owners of Burger King Corp. and I believe that is Mitt Romney's company.

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