[Following on the heels of another majority victory with Burger King, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), and their student allies in the Student-Farmworker Alliance (SFA) have succeeded in pressuring Subway to pay an extra 1 cent per pound for their tomatoes so that workers who pick those tomatoes will get a fair wage.  CIW/SFA have also reached similar agreements with McDonalds and Taco Bell, which means all the major fast food industry titans have now given in!  This is another great example of the power of democratic social movements to achieve change. – alex]

Originally published by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ website.

Miami, FL, 12/2/08: Gerardo Reyes (seated, right) of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Jan Risi (also seated), President and CEO of Subway’s Miami-based purchasing arm, the Independent Purchasing Cooperative, commemorate the signing of the CIW’s newest agreement with a fast-food industry leader to improve wages and working conditions in Florida’s tomato fields.


December 2, 2008: Subway, the third largest fast-food chain in the world and the biggest fast-food buyer of Florida tomatoes, reached an agreement today with the CIW to help improve wages and working conditions for the workers who pick their tomatoes!

What they’re saying about the Subway agreement:

  • “This agreement between Subway and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is yet another blow to the scourge of slavery that continues to exist in the tomato fields of Florida,” Senator Bernie Sanders said in a statement. “Subway is to be congratulated for moving to ensure that none of its products are harvested by slave or near-slave labor. Sadly, too many other companies continue to tolerate this travesty.”
  • “Subway strongly supports the farmworkers’ rights and has entered in an agreement with the (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) to pay the additional 1 cent per pound for tomatoes grown in the Immokalee region of Florida,” Subway spokesman Les Winograd said.
  • “Today, the fast-food industry has spoken with one voice,” said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. “With this agreement, the four largest restaurant companies in the world have now joined their voices to the growing call for a more modern, more humane agricultural industry in Florida.” (read the joint press release in its entirety)
  • But Sherri Daye Scott, who edits QSR, a North Carolina-based food-service industry magazine, noted consumers spoke first – by supporting the coalition’s petition drives, protests and boycotts.

“Until the college students and then the consumers got involved, it was not that big a deal,” Scott said.

Will fair food become an industry watchword?

“It could,” Scott said. “I haven’t heard any rumblings yet beyond the tomato pickers yet, but it could gain traction. Look at food safety – five, 10 years ago, you didn’t hear much about it; now it’s everywhere. The same thing could happen with transparency in the food supply chain.

  • “Subway’s agreement could yield as much money as all the other deals combined. That’s because Subway is the largest user of tomatoes and has 24,000 stores in the United States. Burger King’s agreement is expected to yield about $250,000 for workers, numbers relatively comparable to the Taco Bell and McDonald’s agreement.” (Miami Herald)

Meanwhile, the Northeast Fair Food Tour continues, spreading the news of the Subway agreement and meeting with allies to discuss plans for the road ahead in the Campaign for Fair Food, including a growing focus on the other leading buyers of Florida tomatoes, the supermarket and foodservice industries.

Click here for a revised list of planned public events on the tour