The Coalition for Immokalee Works or CIW held a protest outside the Stop & Shop supermarket in White Plains on Sunday afternoon to raise awareness and urge the company and it's parent, Ahold USA, to join the Fair Food Program which established a worker-designed code of conduct for suppliers of farm-grown products.
The CIW claims Florida tomato workers have been subject to low wages, physical and sexual abuse, and in some extreme cases--slavery conditions while working to provide products to companies such as Stop & Shop.
About 10 other large companies have agreed with the coalition including MacDonalds, Subway and Trader Joe's. In a press release, Stop & Shop has said it has looked into the allegations against it's suppliers independantly, doing a comprehensive review, and established a Standards of Engagement policy with those suppliers.
Florida worker Leonel Perez was one of 15 workers who came to the White Plains demonstration and through a translator said, "We are here today to urge Stop & Shop to take responsibility for the conditions their tomato pickers face in Florida."
Reverand Noelle Damico of the National Offices of the Presbyterian Church USA joined the protesters. "I live here in White Plains and I shop in this store. As customers, we want them to know that we care deeply that the food we buy not come from the work of exploited workers."
"It's important that corporations do their part," Rev. Damico added, saying, "we can't do this with out them. It's doable. We're hopeful, we're persistant and we're not going away."