Thursday, September 02, 2010


The United Farm Workers (UFW) have fought long and hard to unionize grape pickers at Giumarra Vineyards and improve the dismal working conditions there. As part of their campaign they have pressured Giumarra customers such as the Krogers grocery chain to live up to their ethical business statements in respect to Giumarra. The UFW have launched yet another public appeal for customers to demand that businesses such as Kroger live up to their statements and demand proof from the likes of Giumarra Vineyards. Here's the story and appeal from the UFW.

Krogers lets Giumarra violate their code of conduct

Since the beginning of this year, clergy and farm worker supporters have been expressing concern to the Kroger grocery chain (which includes Ralphs, Food for Less, Fred Meyer, QFC, Frys, Baker's, City Market, Dillions, Foods Co, Gerbes, Hilander, JayC Stores, King Soopers, Owen's Market, Scotts Food & Pharmacy, Smiths Food & Drug, Smith's Marketplace, Turkey Hill, and more) over widespread accounts of worker abuse at Giumarra Vineyards. Giumarra supplies Kroger with table grapes and other fruits and vegetables under their Nature's Partner label. Concerned consumers nationwide have sent letters, e-mails and even met with company representatives in order to urge Kroger to hold Giumarra accountable. Kroger has failed to respond. Take a moment to let this retail giant know that they have a responsibility to uphold the standards they have set for their vendors.

In its 2010 Sustainability Report, Kroger features a Code of Conduct for its vendors (page 19). In addition to listing out standards for suppliers, the code states that vendors must be able to demonstrate compliance. But, according to worker testimony, Giumarra is NOT in compliance:

Workers may not be exposed to unreasonably hazardous, unsafe, or unhealthy conditions.
Giumarra worker Juana Estrada describes an incident where the company was spraying a sulfur-smelling chemical near workers picking grapes: "It turned out that they were spraying, but by then some people were vomiting, others were feeling dizzy or had headaches."

The workplace must be free from harassment, which includes sexually coercive, threatening, abusive or exploitative conduct or behavior or harassment because of one's race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation.
EEOC v. Giumarra Vineyards Corporation, et al, Case No. 1:09-cv-02255: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit that Giumarra Vineyards Corporation violated federal law by subjecting a teenage female farm worker to sexual harassment. Further, the EEOC said, the company retaliated against a group of other farm workers who came to her aid at its Edison, Calif., facility. All of the victims identified in the lawsuit are indigenous Indians from Mexico.

Workers at all times must be treated fairly with dignity and respect.
Giumarra worker Imelda Valdivia describes the following: "They put fear into the workers and so we force ourselves not to leave for water, because when the boss tells the Supervisor they stop us from working from one to two hours without pay."

Wages paid to workers must meet or exceed legal and industry standards.
Class Action Complaint: Current and former employees of Giumarra Vineyards have filed a Federal class action lawsuit alleging that the company requires workers to work off-the-clock and provide their own tools and equipment with no reimbursement. Workers report not being paid for time spent maintaining materials necessary for harvest despite the company's requirement that they do so.
Tell Kroger to demand proof of compliance from Giumarra Vineyards--real proof. It is important that Kroger does not just take the company's word for it in the face of so much litigation and worker testimony. Let them know consumers expect true accountability.
Please go to this link to send the following letter to Kroger management.

Dear Mr. Dillon,

According to the 2010 Sustainability Report featured on Kroger's website, your company expects its vendors to uphold certain standards. Additionally, the report states that these vendors must provide actual proof of their compliance.

I am writing you today to inform you that one of your vendors--The Giumarra Company with its' Nature's Partner label--is not in compliance with your Code of Conduct. Consumers and farm worker supporters nationwide are well aware of Giumarra's reputation as a company with outrageously unfair labor practices. You ought to be aware of the allegations against Giumarra, which include sexual harassment, wage and hour violations, worker exposure to pesticide sprayings, and more.

Because these allegations are so strong and the evidence mounting, you ought to conduct a very thorough investigation into this company's practices and evaluate the Kroger-Giumarra relationship based on your findings. It is not enough to take this company's word for it--workers are speaking out and we hope Kroger is ready to listen.


No comments: