The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Compass Group North America today announced at a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. an agreement designed to bring sweeping advances for farmworkers laboring in the Florida tomato industry.

Compass will immediately pay farmworkers an additional penny per pound for tomatoes harvested, with the ultimate goal of a guaranteed fair minimum wage. 

“On behalf of the General Assembly I commend the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Compass Group on forging a sustainable agreement that will advance both the human rights of farmworkers and practices of corporate social responsibility,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly. “As Christians we are called to love our neighbors, and this agreement, which ensures human well-being, provides a meaningful way for people of faith to uphold that covenant of love.”

Compass has worked with the CIW to develop a robust code of conduct for its suppliers that will improve working conditions in Florida’s tomato fields and guarantee transparency through third-party monitoring. It also assisted the CIW in conversations with Florida growers that led to the commitment of East Coast Growers and Packers to meet the code of conduct.

At the signing event, the Rev. Noelle Damico who coordinates the PC(USA) Campaign for Fair Food, joined representatives from the CIW, Compass Group, East Coast Growers, and U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis in addressing the significance of this agreement. 

“The mutual respect that is demonstrated in this agreement and at this signing is the fuel that will propel the promise of this agreement into its reality,” said Damico. “The Presbyterian Church, as an institution of faith whose membership is a wellspring of conscious consumers, celebrates these fundamental advances for farmworkers and, indeed, our whole society.”

After a three-year boycott of Taco Bell, the CIW struck its first labor agreement with Yum! Brands (also the parent of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W) in March of 2005. Since then it has also reached wage and working conditions agreements with McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Whole Foods Markets and Bon Apetit Food Service.