Tis the season of protest. Some angry people will be occupying Trader Joe's today, and not just for the frozen tamales.

Unfortunately, this is not a case of occupiers carbo-loading for winter. Rather farm workers are pissed at Trader Joe's for failing to join a movement that seeks to improve conditions for farm workers.

Yeah, the Trader Joe's that's home to the liberal, flax-seed eating customer. Florida's Coalition of Immokalee Workers states:

With the support of nine multi-billion dollar retail food corporations – among them McDonald's, Burger King, Bon Appétit Management Company, and Trader Joe's competitor Whole Foods Market – over 30,000 farmworkers will begin to see concrete changes in the fields this season, including assured access to shade, the right to report abuses without fear or retaliation, the ability to form health and safety committees in the fields, zero-tolerance provisions for forced labor, and a wage increase funded by a penny-per-pound premium paid by participating retailers.

Yet Trader Joe's – despite unverifiable claims to the contrary – refuses to pay the Fair Food Program's one penny more per pound premium for tomatoes to help increase farmworker wages, and has not agreed to condition its purchases on suppliers' compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct.


Today the Florida tomato pickers will gather at the Monrovia Trader Joe's at noon and march over to the chain's corporate headquarters at 800 S. Shamrock Ave.

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Oscar Otzoy of the farm workers group says:

Trader Joe's has fiercely resisted the Campaign for Fair Food with public relations spin designed to create confusion … Trader Joe's refuses to sign a Fair Food agreement with the CIW. And without this binding agreement, there can be no supply chain transparency, no third-party verification, and no enforcement of the Code of Conduct.

Say it ain't so, Trader Joe's.


LA Weekly