Supply Scan

News and trends from across the food supply chain.


McDonald's, Produce Suppliers Address Farm Worker Issues

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), and McDonald's USA, working with McDonald's produce suppliers, have announced plans to work together to address wages and working conditions for the farm workers who pick Florida tomatoes.

Beginning in the 2007 growing season, McDonald's USA, through its produce suppliers, will pay an additional penny per pound for Florida tomatoes supplied to its U.S. restaurants. The increase will be paid directly to farm workers harvesting tomatoes purchased by McDonald's.

The CIW and McDonald's produce suppliers will work together to develop a new code of conduct for Florida tomato growers as well as increase farm worker participation in monitoring supplier compliance. Farm workers will also participate in investigating worker complaints and dispute resolution. Additionally, the CIW and McDonald's produce suppliers will work together toward developing and implementing a credible third-party verification system.

"I welcome McDonald's commitment to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to improve the lives of the workers who supply their 13,000 U.S. restaurants with tomatoes," says former United States President and founder of the Carter Center, Jimmy Carter. "I encourage others to now follow the lead of McDonald's and Taco Bell to achieve the much needed change throughout the entire Florida-based tomato industry."

Representatives from the Carter Center, based in Atlanta, helped facilitate the agreement with the Coalition and McDonald's.

"Two years ago, our agreement with Yum Brands marked the first step toward a distant dream of ensuring human rights for workers in Florida's fields," says Lucas Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

"We have taken another major step toward a world where we as farm workers can enjoy a fair wage and humane working conditions in exchange for the hard and essential work we do every day. We are not there yet, but today's agreement should send a strong message to the rest of the restaurant and supermarket industry that it is now time to stand behind the food they sell from the field to the table."

To foster further improvements throughout the tomato industry, the CIW and McDonald's produce suppliers, with McDonald's support, will develop a third-party mechanism that would carry out similar monitoring and investigative functions at the industry level.

The third-party mechanism will be developed in such a way as to be expandable to include the participation of other willing members of the foodservice and retail food industry that buy Florida tomatoes.

MHIA Releases Manual Material Handling Ergonomic Guidelines

Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) has released its Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling.

Based on 2005 statistics from the National Safety Council (NSC), the United States had 142,946,000 documented workers. The total cost to work related injuries and deaths in the United States was $160.4 billion. Manual material handling (MMH) work related injuries was a major contributor to a large percentage of the over half a million cases of musculoskeletal disorders reported annually in the U.S.

Musculoskeletal disorders can result in protracted pain, disability, medical treatment, and financial stress for those afflicted with them, and employers often find themselves paying the bill, either directly or through workers' compensation insurance, at the same time they must cope with the loss of the full capacity of their workers.

Scientific evidence shows that effective ergonomic interventions can lower the physical demands of MMH work tasks, thereby lowering the incidence and severity of the musculoskeletal injuries they can cause. This could help reduce the amount of time lost because of work related injuries.

The NSC estimated that in 2005 the number of workdays lost by U.S. employees was 80,000,000 days. Their potential for reducing injury-related costs and time lost because of work injuries alone makes ergonomic interventions a useful tool for improving a company's productivity, product quality, and overall business competitiveness.

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