Tomorrow, members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) will protest Chipotle's labor practices as inconsistent with the corporation's marketing image as socially conscious and responsible. Protesters will gather at noon outside the Chipotle on Broadway and 17th Street. Last year, on the heels of a scandal that revealed Chipotle's hiring practices weren't exactly legal, Chipotle announced it would use over 10 million pounds of locally-sourced ingredients. However, no direct implications have been made against Chipotle that indicate their labor practices contradict their philosophy. "We can’t always purchase food from the little farmer down the road. In order to serve our customers, we sometimes work with larger farms and food distributors. But no matter how big or small the farms we work with, it’s important that every worker is treated with dignity and respect," says the company website.
Chipotle's slogan claims they "sell food with integrity," yet CIW—an organization of Florida farmworkers whose members are largely Hispanic, Haitian, and Mayan Indian immigrants—will call for the giant fast-casual restaurant chain to participate in the Fair Food Program which includes a penny-per-pound wage increase for tomato pickers and a participatory health and safety program. CIW points to the fact that farmworkers typically earn 50 cents per 32-pound bucket of tomatoes.
Notably, ten other major players in the food industry—including Trader Joe’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway—have signed similar agreements, which currently shields over 90% of Florida's tomato fields. Chipotle was just a fledgling chain of restaurants with 16 locations in Colorado when the McDonald’s corporation invested in 1998. The company has since become a corporation in its own right with over 30,000 employees and 1,200 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
Perhaps this peculiar ad set to a soothing rendition of Coldplay's "The Scientist" will assure you that Chipotle has farmworkers' best interests in mind: