Photo: Waldo Jaquith, Flickr
An activist group scheduled a protest Tuesday at Quiznos headquarters in Denver to urge the chain to come to an agreement with the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers to ensure better working conditions and better pay for tomato pickers.
The Bike Parade and Kite Flying Rally -- organized by the CIW, Denver Fair Food and other activist groups -- comes days after the restaurant chain released a Supplier Code of Conduct that attempts to come to an agreement with the CIW on the issue.
The Quiznos Supplier Code of Conduct asks tomato suppliers to create specific plans to address wages and working conditions for the farm workers who pick tomatoes.
Specifically, Quiznos will pay an additional penny per pound of Florida round tomatoes it buys, starting with the 2010 growing season, and it is asking suppliers to ensure that additional penny be paid to the farm workers. Workers are currently paid between 40 and 50 cents per 32-pound bucket of tomatoes, according to Denver Fair Food.
"We care very much about the end result of this which is the humane treatment of the workers," Quiznos spokeswoman Ellen Kramer told Slashfood.
In addition to the penny-per-pound pay increase, Quiznos wants to verify that money is getting to the right place -- from suppliers to growers to the pickers its intended to help, Kramer told Slashfood.
"[CIW] also wanted to ensure that our code was being complied with, so they're trying to set up a verification system on their end and want us to support their verification system. It doesn't appear to be like there are differences between what they want to accomplish and what we want to accomplish," Kramer said.
Quiznos is asking produce suppliers to work with the CIW on increasing farm worker participation in monitoring supplier compliance, investigating complaints and resolving disputes.
Kramer said the company did not have an official agreement with the Coalition because the group's lawyers had not yet approved one, but that they organizations were talking.
The Supplier Code of Conduct also addresses fair treatment of Quiznos employees, the company's use of cage-free egg suppliers, environmentally responsible packaging, animal rights and the use of child labor.
"It sounds like we're just asking for people to obey the law, but in fact what [the CIW] brought to our attention is that sometimes at the end of the supply chain, people aren't paying close enough attention to these employment practices that we fully support," Kramer told Slashfood.