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Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Grandfather's Words ~ March for Rights, Respect + Fair Food



Do you eat tomatoes? I hope you'll take a look at the short video above. If you get a chance, also take a look at a CBS segment called Harvest of Shame.

The price that we pay for our food isn't just money. There is a human toll. In a previous post, I wrote about the efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).

Taco Bell, McDonald's, Burger King, Whole Foods , Subway, Bon App├ętit Co.,Compass Group, Aramark, Sodexo, Trader Joe's, Chipotle and Yum! Brands, signed on to the Fair Food Program.

These companies above agree to pay a premium price, which is generally just an additional penny per pound, for more fairly produced tomatoes, and purchase their Florida tomatoes from growers who comply with the Fair Food Code of Conduct.

Unfortunately, not all companies have signed on. Right now a 200-mile March for Rights, Respect + Fair Food is taking place in Florida, from  March 3 - 17, 2013, starting in Fort Myers and ending in Lakeland, where Publix corporate headquarters is located.

Publix is a regional supermarket chain in the southeastern part of the United States. Farmworkers from the CIW and their consumer allies, not only from Florida, but from across the country have joined in the march to Lakeland.

Paying an additional penny per pound seems like something that Publix should be able to do, according to a recent news release. See a portion of the statement below with minor edits.
“I’m pleased with the improvement in our operating results for 2012, a 52-week year, as compared with 2011, a 53-week year,” said Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. “As a result of our associates’ efforts, our stock price reached a new all-time high after considering stock splits.”

Looks like times are good for Publix. Yet so far, Publix refuses to negotiate with the CIW. Apparently the reaction of Publix has been to say that it does not get into "labor disputes" with its suppliers.

It would be wonderful if Mr. Crenshaw could take a few minutes to meet with them when they arrive in Lakeland. Especially considering this interview with Tampa Bay Business Journal.

William "Ed" Crenshaw is the grandson of George Jenkins, who founded Publix, back in 1930. Crenshaw has a lot to be proud of. His grandfather built quite a business. From what I can tell, Publix is a much beloved store in the region. Below is a portion of the interview.

Who are your heroes in the business world and why? Obviously, my hero in the business world has been and will always be George Jenkins, “Mr. George,” the founder of Publix and my grandfather. He was a genius with the unique ability to combine a keen business sense with his love and appreciation for people. He started Publix to make a living, but his drive for success was the result of his competitive spirit and his desire to help others. I doubt it was ever to grow his personal wealth, which is why our company is associate owned today. Much of his joy was seeing others succeed and grow. George Jenkins set a wonderful example for me and taught me many valuable lessons, but the one that stands out, and the one I think about most often is very simply, “don’t let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing.”

I have no doubt, that as this march continues, the words of Crenshaw's grandfather may  often come into his mind and heart.  Don’t let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing.


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