MIAMI — The Fair Food Program was established by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Immokalee, Florida. It is an innovative partnership among farmers, farm workers and retail food companies in the United States. The idea seeks to ensure fair wages and humane working conditions for the workers. Human rights violations are common among this population because the workers are often exploited by large retail companies. These companies use the vulnerability of their employees, knowing that they are at their economic mercy, and take advantage of the lack of enforcement of human rights. The Fair Food Program checks the consumer’s power and their demand by giving farmers, fruit pickers and farm workers a voice. In addition to providing insights into the decisions that affect their lives, the Fair Food Program is a method to eliminate the human rights abuses that have plagued the agriculture work culture for generations.
Publix is one of the biggest food market chains in the United States. However, the company is refusing to support the rights imposed by the Fair Food Program. Publix is not choosing to ensure that agricultural workers have protected rights—workers to whom they are patrons. Since the company is not a part of the Fair Food Program, they are able to utilize individual growers who are not a part of a union and therefore not protected by the Fair Food Program. By doing so, Publix is choosing not to uphold the highest human right standards held for their wholesalers.
Publix is continuously choosing to turn its back on its workers, whose lack of human rights contributes to their lasting poverty. In essence, poverty helps fuel its profits. The Millennium Goals have been created in order to halve extreme poverty, a feat that requires both governmental and nongovernmental efforts in tandem. Publix is a company that is going against the “put an end to global poverty” grain. The attempts to achieve the universal human rights movement is suffering due to organizations such as Publix, who, by not supporting the Fair Food Program, have a negative impact on efforts to decrease the number of exploited agricultural workers.
The Fair Food Program is considered to be “the best workplace-monitoring program” in the United States, according to the New York Times. It has garnered recognition for its unique effectiveness from both the private and public sectors. The Fair Food Program’s mission stems from the standards outlined in its code of conduct, which incorporates the law and acts as a multi-layered approach to monitoring, enforcing and ensuring compliance for agricultural workers. It includes a set of tools and innovative standards as rigorous enforcement techniques. All this is done while achieving a durable and sustainable social responsibility program for agricultural retail organizations in the United States.
Equal human rights are essential to the end of global poverty. It is imperative that organizations support the equal treatment of workers to end the exploitation and economic disparities that exist. Other than economic gain, there is no justifiable reason that could explain why Publix chooses not to participate in the Fair Food Program.
– Erika Wright