IMMOKALEE, FL: McDonald's has launched a corporate goodwill effort partnering the company with a group that certifies fair farm labor practices in Florida.But the campaign has led a high-profile group of farm-workers to charge that the company is trying to sidestep the group's ongoing campaign for higher worker wages.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), whose campaign last year to win pay increases from Taco Bell and parent company Yum Brands became a cause celebre among activists across the country, has turned its attention to McDonald's. The group hopes
to win similar pay raises for tomato pickers.
Instead of agreeing to that, McDonald's has pledged to work with the newly formed group Socially Accountable Farm Employers (SAFE) to certify its fair labor practices.
But the CIW noted that SAFE does not address the wage issue and has charged the group with being a front for agriculture interests.
SAFE spokesman Ray Gilmer said CBR PR handled its launch late last year.
McDonald's did not return calls by press time, but issued this e-mailed statement: "we endorsed the SAFE approach because it has the ability to drive industry-wide change. Many of the requirements in the SAFE program are modeled after Mcdonald's Social Accountability Program."