UPDATE: Driscoll’s released a statement in regards to recent allegations concerning their employees and pay/work conditions…
We believe in a world in which all agriculture workers are treated with dignity, fairness and respect, and we take seriously concerns shared about the treatment of farmworkers by our independent growers. In order to advance these deeply held beliefs, we will continue to facilitate initiatives and introduce standards that support socially responsible business practices, including worker welfare.
Already, we have in place Global Worker Welfare standards which are based upon the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions and Recommendations standards, the Global Social Compliance Program (GSCP) standards, the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) standards and a collaborative review of agriculture-specific standards from several non-governmental organizations. We ensure these standards are upheld through audits by independent third party agencies. Further, Driscoll’s and Fair Trade USA introduced a pilot program this year, with funds raised through the purchase of Fair Trade Certified organic strawberries and organic raspberries grown in Baja, Mexico directed back to the farmworkers and the communities that grew the berries. In the U.S., we strongly support comprehensive immigration reform, raising the minimum age for farmworkers to 15 in the state of Washington and creating a legal framework which enables farm workers to organize.
Driscoll’s and members of our leadership team are actively working with other growers, produce industry associations and government organizations, to champion causes that are important to workers and defend against abuses. In fact, a Driscoll’s senior executive was elected to lead the International Produce Alliance to Promote a Socially Responsible Industry (AHIFORES),placing Driscoll’s at the center of an effort to improve working conditions for hundreds of thousands of farm laborers in Mexico.
Groups that knowingly share incorrect information distract from the goal of improving the lives of workers around the world.
Field workers who pick Driscoll’s berries are asking you to stop buying their products until they are paid fairly and given better work conditions. “If you’re a farm worker, you don’t know how much you’re going to get paid each day,” said Formación Cívica coordinator Edgar Franks, according to Fusion. “You still have to pay for gas, childcare, food and all those things. It’s an unfair practice.”
Some Driscoll’s workers say they are paid $6 per day, with protesters describing it as modern day slavery in Mexico. Both their U.S. and Mexico employees report being bullied to skip breaks, forced to work near harmful chemicals, all while not receiving medical insurance.
According to Democracy Now, “Since 2013, some workers launched a series of walkouts, picket lines and lawsuits over alleged labor violations. In 2015, one of their lawsuits went all the way up to the Washington Supreme Court, where they won a unanimous decision that set a precedent ensuring paid rest breaks statewide.” Since then, Driscoll’s farmworkers have been organizing together on both sides of the border.
— Raquel Cepeda (@RaquelCepeda) August 4, 2016
The U.S. recently won the right to form a union, but will continue with boycott as they seek to earn $15 an hour with safer working conditions. “If the workers aren’t getting paid the wage that they deserve,” added Franks, “then we’re still calling for the boycott of Driscoll’s.”
Some Driscoll’s berry pickers say they’re paid just $6 a day.
— Fusion (@Fusion) August 3, 2016
— Peaches (@danielaxgrr) August 3, 2016
no water or bathroom breaks, sexual assault, slave wage, child slavery, no health services, harmful chemicals, violence. #boycottdriscolls
— denise (@empanadaestrada) August 3, 2016