Ethical Sourcing of Food Supplies

Representatives from Walmart, Philip Morris, Coca-Cola, and the Manpower Group met with representatives of labor groups,  such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and the anti-human-trafficking Katie Ford Foundation to discuss labor standards in the food supply chain. Attendees also included representatives from the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Agriculture; PepsiCo, General Mills and Target; and the United Farm Workers, Oxfam, and the National Council of La Raza.

Dan Viederman, the CEO of Verite, a fair labor advocacy group that coordinated the event, said, “It’s a group that potentially can achieve concrete change.”

Lorenzo Lopez, a Walmart spokesman, said, “Walmart is committed to strong ethical sourcing standards for suppliers and we have worked diligently to help ensure the products we sell are produced in a way that provides dignity and respect for workers in our supply chain,” Lopez said. “As part of this commitment, we are looking to develop a program for suppliers that will include education, training and resources to help ensure compliance with our standards.”

Javier Rodriguez, a warehouse worker who came to Washington from Southern California, went on strike last week to protest conditions at the warehouse where he works as a temp. Ana Rosa Diaz, a guest worker from Mexico, walked out of a crawfish processing plant in Louisiana earlier this year claiming she was shorted on pay and forced to work under threat of deportation. The Labor Department later issued fines and back pay orders of $248,000 against the company, CJ’s Seafood, and Walmart dropped the company as a supplier to its Sam’s Club stores.

Rodriguez and Diaz told their stories to an audience that included Walmart executive Rajan Kamalanathan, who heads the company’s ethical outsourcing initiative. Both Rodriguez and Diaz described the experience as productive. “I saw his commitment to try and work with us,” Diaz later said of Kamalanathan.

Learn more at Dave Jamieson’s Huffington Post article: Walmart, Coke Meet Quietly With Labor Groups, Non-Profits Over Food Supply ‘Ethical Sourcing’.

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