WASHINGTON (September 29, 2006)— The U.S. bishops asked McDonald's to work for better wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers in a letter from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn (NY), chair of the bishops' Domestic Policy Committee, to James Skinner, CEO of the fast food giant.
Bishop DiMarzio urged McDonald's to partner with the Florida agricultural industry and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and cited an agreement similar to one entered into by Taco Bell and Yum Brand, Inc. last year.
"McDonalds and other major food companies do not directly set farm workers' wages and working conditions," Bishop DiMarzio said. "But with your substantial purchasing power, you can insist that your produce suppliers meet high ethical standards in how they treat their workers. Farm workers should participate in setting and monitoring those standards, as workers know best the conditions to be remedied. In the "Responsible Purchasing" statement on its website, McDonald's states 'we know we can work with our suppliers to help improve their practices and set an example for other companies.' I urge you to apply that standard to how your produce suppliers treat farm workers. Given the competitiveness of global produce markets and the significance that your company's business constitutes for any individual grower, I hope that you will agree that McDonald's is in a position to require and enable suppliers to meet the standards you set."
The Catholic bishops of Florida issued a similar plea last April.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers began meeting at a Diocese of Venice church 13 years ago and has grown to be a wholly independent, internationally recognized multiethnic community-based organization of some 2,500 farmworker members focused on just wages and labor conditions.