Letter to the CEO of McDonald's Regarding the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, September 28, 2006
September 28, 2006
Mr. James Skinner, CEO
2111 McDonald’s Drive
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Dear Mr. Skinner;
On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I am writing to encourage McDonald’s Corporation to commit to a partnership with the Florida agriculture industry and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to improve the income and working conditions of the men and women who harvest Florida tomatoes.
The Catholic bishops have long been outspoken advocates for the dignity and rights of farm workers. Too often, their lives lack adequate security, dignity, and reasonable working conditions. For decades, the bishops have worked for higher wages, increased access to healthcare, expanded educational opportunities, improved housing conditions, and for year-round employment for farm workers.
In March, 2005, Taco Bell and Yum Brand, Inc. entered into an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers that increased the wages of the farm workers who harvest Taco Bell tomatoes and improved their lives and the lives of their families. Of equal importance was that the accord between the two established a series of welcome ethical norms for Taco Bell’s suppliers.
McDonalds and other major food companies do not directly set farm workers’ wages and working conditions. But with your substantial purchasing power, you can insist that your produce suppliers meet high ethical standards in how they treat their workers. Farm workers should participate in setting and monitoring those standards, as workers know best the conditions to be remedied. In the “Responsible Purchasing” statement on its website, McDonald’s states “we know we can work with our suppliers to help improve their practices and set an example for other companies.” I urge you to apply that standard to how your produce suppliers treat farm workers. Given the competitiveness of global produce markets and the significance that your company’s business constitutes for any individual grower, I hope that you will agree that McDonald’s is in a position to require and enable suppliers to meet the standards you set.
Mr. Skinner, thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter. McDonald’s has been a leader in the fast food industry. I join my brother bishops in Florida in urging McDonald’s to exercise its leadership now on behalf of greater fairness and justice for Florida farm workers. I hope to hear from you on how progress can be made in this important matter.
With every best wish, I am
Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Ph.D., D.D.
Bishop of Brooklyn
Chairman, Domestic Policy Committee