Fair Food Code of Conduct & Selected Guidance

Overview

Compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct is a fundamental requirement of the Fair Food Program. Operating pursuant to the Code helps define what it means to be a Participating Grower, which in turn makes a grower eligible to sell to the Program’s Participating Buyers.

The Fair Food Code is a living document. It has been shaped through detailed negotiation and ongoing dialogue among workers, growers and buyers. As the Fair Food Program matures and evolves, so too will the Code, as it continues to serve as the primary platform upon which to build a truly sustainable tomato industry.

Because the Fair Food Code establishes mostly broad principles, it has been augmented by a more detailed Guidance Manual to assist Participating Growers in implementing the Code. In some places, the Guidance Manual merely provides detail or examples concerning Code provisions. In other instances, it sets forth alternative procedures for implementing concepts articulated in the Code.

What follows is the Fair Food Code of Conduct, supplemented where appropriate with provisions from the Guidance Manual that provide further substance, meaning or texture to the requirements of the Code.

Version 1

Introduction

Buyers (i.e., companies participating in the Fair Food Program) will give purchase preference within the Buyer supply chain to tomatoes that meet its specifications supplied by Florida Tomato Growers ("Growers") who can demonstrate socially responsible practices that meet or exceed the standards in the Fair Food Code of Conduct, although a Buyer is not obligated to purchase tomatoes from every Grower that meets or exceeds these standards.

Part I: Employment Practices and Minimum Requirements for Participating Growers

  1. Growers are required to abide by all applicable laws, codes and regulations, including but not limited to this Code, and any local, state or federal laws regarding wages and benefits, working hours, equal opportunity, and employee and product safety.

Further, Growers will follow these employment and workplace practices:

  1. Growers will participate in, and comply with, the "penny per pound" premium pass through Program (hereafter Fair Food Program) and pass through to their Qualifying Workers the appropriate premium payments received under that Program.
     
    The term "appropriate premium payments" means the Qualifying Workers’ portion of the "penny per pound" paid by Buyer as part of the Program.

    Policy 2.1
    The extra 1.5 cents per pound paid by participating Buyers [for round tomatoes, or the equivalent amount paid for other types of tomatoes] is called the Fair Food Program Premium (FFP Premium).

    Policy 2.2
    Qualifying Workers are non-supervisory workers performing the following tasks related to growing tomatoes for a Participating Grower: harvesting, irrigation, planting, laying plastic, staking, tying and miscellaneous work of a similar nature that does not involve the operation of vehicles or machinery. Field walkers and dumpers are not Qualifying Workers.

    Policy 2.3
    All tomatoes sold (either directly or through repackers) to customers participating in the Fair Food Program must come from Growers participating in the Fair Food Program. Therefore, Fair Food Program Premiums, whether paid directly by the customer or by a repacker, can only go to Growers participating in the Fair Food Program.

  2. Growers will regularly reconcile wages paid, including buckets picked, to pounds harvested, and if that reconciliation indicates uncompensated pounds harvested, using a 32 pound bucket for calculation for round "gas green" tomatoes (or the appropriate standard weight and container for other types of tomatoes, if different), the Grower shall adjust the amount paid to Workers in the next payroll so that they are fully paid for the uncompensated pounds identified in the reconciliation process.

    Policy 3.1
    Cupping of buckets is not permitted under the Code, nor is fluffing of buckets by Qualifying Workers. A bucket is cupped if any tomato in the bucket is fully above the rim of the bucket. Fluffing is shaking a bucket to make it appear more full than it actually is. In addition, no bucket shall weigh more than 34 pounds gross. A properly filled bucket is pictured immediately below.

    [The new visual standard for bucket-filling established under the Fair Food Program
    is demonstrated on the right.]
  3. All compensable hours shall be recorded, and Growers will keep accurate hours through a system (time clock punch, card swipe or other method) in which employees control their time cards or similar time registration devices.

    Policy 4.1
    Clocking in all workers should be the first thing that happens after the bus arrives at the Grower’s property, whether or not the place where the workers are let off the bus is the work site.

    Policy 4.2
    Workers who get to the fields on their own should be told, the day before, where to be the next day and when to be there. If the Worker arrives at that time, he or she should then be clocked in at the stated arrival time, whether or not work actually begins at that time.

    Policy 4.3
    Workers should be clocked out just before leaving the Grower’s property for the day.

    Audit Measure 4.3
    Workers receive pay slips that show:

    • pay period
    • hours worked
    • wages
    • Fair Food Program Premium as a separate line item
    • bonuses (if applicable)
    • gross earnings
    • itemized deductions
    • net wage
    • pieces and/or units produced (if applicable)
    • the telephone number to file a confidential complaint (unless it appears on the Worker’s company issued identification badge)
  4. Growers will hire farm workers as employees.
  5. Policy 5.1
    All Workers, whether working under the supervision of an employee of the Grower or the supervision of a crewleader (whether or not the crewleader is an employee of the Grower), are considered employees of the Grower and must have gone through the Grower’s orientation process and be on the Grower’s payroll.

  6. Growers will pay wages and benefits directly to employees.

  7. Growers, without cost to the employees, will provide employees with protective equipment adequate for its intended purpose, including shade when necessary to avoid danger from excessive heat, and provide training on company time on the use of such equipment.

  8. Growers will take all necessary steps to avoid endangering the safety of employees including, but not limited to:

    • Permitting individual employees who feel threatened or in danger for their health or safety to cease working (without pay) without consequences or retaliation. Growers will clearly and unequivocally educate their employees that in the event an employees feel threatened or in danger for their health or safety, they have the right to cease working without consequences or retaliation; and

    • Implementing a system for work safety stoppages due to lightning, heat, chemicals, pesticides or other factors for all employees present where the potential danger exists. Calling a work stoppage shall be at the discretion of the Grower, but the reasonableness with which the Grower exercises this discretion shall be subject to the Complaint Process.

  9. Growers will provide a safe and healthy working environment for their employees and, working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), will develop and implement a Worker Health and Safety process through which employees are able to offer the Grower their input and perspective on health and safety issues in a regular and structured manner.

  10. Growers will provide plans and procedures to insure the adequate and timely treatment of workers in the event of injury or sickness that might occur anywhere on a Grower’s property.

  11. Growers will provide plans and procedures to insure that workers have sufficient breaks during the day, including adequate time for lunch, without unreasonably compromising the ability to earn wages.

  12. Growers will provide opportunity for advancement, including the ability for qualified employees to move from fields to other types of employment with the Grower, including management positions, and will regularly communicate these opportunities to employees.

  13. If housing is provided by a Grower, it must be voluntary and comply with the law, and the cost for such housing to the employee cannot reduce the employee’s net wages below the minimum wage or be increased other than to reflect increases in the cost or quality of the housing.

  14. Growers will verify and provide transparency to their practices, including the pass through of the appropriate premium payments, by permitting third party monitoring by an entity chosen or accepted by Buyer and the CIW.

Growers will work with the CIW to:

  1. Establish, implement, and enforce a process acceptable to the CIW for complaints to be filed by, and credible complaints1 to be investigated on behalf of, employees without fear of retribution.

  2. Develop a system acceptable to the CIW for informing and educating their employees, on the Grower’s premises and on company time, of all applicable laws, codes and regulations, including but not limited to this Code, and any local, state or federal laws regarding wages and benefits, immigration rights, working hours, and equal opportunity.

    Audit Measure 16.2
    During registration of a newly hired worker, the worker receives a copy of the Rights and Responsibilities Handbook that includes a copy of the Code, written in a language workers understand.

    Audit Measure 16.3
    The Code is communicated to illiterate workers, if applicable. At registration, workers are shown the orientation video containing this information from the CIW.

Part II:  Violations

Violations by a Grower shall be divided into three categories – "Article I Violations," "Article II Violations" and "Article III Violations."

Article l Violations:

  1. Use of forced labor of any kind.

  2. Systemic use of illegal child labor as defined by Florida law or any applicable federal law.
               
  3. Use or threat of physical violence against employee(s) by or at the direction of either supervisor(s) directly employed by the Grower or by crewleader(s) unless the offending person(s) are fired and any other necessary corrective action is taken immediately upon confirmation of the incident.

  4. Use or display of weapons of any kind (including firearms, knives, bats, etc.) at any point for the explicit or implicit purpose of intimidation, unless the offending person(s) are fired and any other necessary corrective action is taken immediately upon confirmation of the incident.

  5. Sexual harassment that involves physical contact, unless the offending person(s) are fired and any other necessary corrective action is taken immediately upon confirmation of the incident.

Consequences of Article I Violations:

Buyer will not accept for use in the Buyer system tomatoes originating from Growers committing Article 1 violations and will decline to purchase tomatoes from such Growers pursuant to the following schedule and for such additional time, if any, as the Grower takes to remedy the situation to the satisfaction of Buyer and the CIW; provided that Buyer shall have a reasonable time, using reasonable best efforts, to transition purchases from that Grower to provide for a sufficient supply of tomatoes that meets Buyer quality standards.

For the first violation of Article I, at least 90 consecutive days, none of which is in the months of May through September.

For a second violation of Article I, at least 180 consecutive days, none of which is in the months of May through September.

For any subsequent violation of Article I, a period of time established by Buyer, which shall be at least one full season.

Article II Violations:

  1. Racial, national origin, religious, sex or sexual preference discrimination, as evidenced by a finding of probable cause of any such discrimination by the EEOC or any similar state or federal agency, or by a finding resulting from the Complaint Process adopted by the Fair Food Program, or by such other evidence as Buyer and CIW together find sufficient to substantiate such harassment. For purposes of this paragraph, discrimination shall include differential treatment (physical or verbal) of worker(s) of a given race, nationality, religion, sex or sexual preference, or crew(s) predominantly of a given race, nationality, religion, sex or sexual preference.

    Audit Measure Art II 1.1
    Grower can demonstrate that it has implemented the training and discrimination prevention protocols, including continuing education programs for workers and training for staff members assigned to receive and process workers’ reports or complaints of discrimination, harassment or abuse. 

    Audit Measure Art II 1.2
    Worker(s) from each crew used by the Grower report no conduct prohibited by this provision, Appendix E or Policy Art II 1.2, including differential treatment of crews of a particular race, nationality or sex.

  1. Sexual harassment not involving violence, the threat of violence or physical contact, as evidenced by a finding of probable cause of sexual harassment by the EEOC or any similar state or federal agency, or by a finding resulting from the Complaint Process adopted by the Fair Food Program, or by such other evidence as Buyer and CIW together find sufficient to substantiate such harassment.

  2. Negligent endangerment, which shall include any pesticide poisoning affecting more than two employees as a result of the same incident, two or more equipment failures in one season that harm employee(s), or one or more lightning injuries in a season, unless the Grower can demonstrate that (a) the pesticide poisoning, equipment failures or lightning injuries were not the result of negligent conduct, and (b) within the time frame set forth in Consequences of Article II Violations, Paragraph 1, steps have been taken that will prevent the pesticide poisoning, equipment failures or exposure to lightning from reoccurring.

  3. Use of illegal child labor as defined by Florida law or any applicable federal law that is not widespread.

  4. Wage violations on a systemic level, as evidenced by incorrect payments in any payroll period affecting a) at least 5% of all employees or b) at least 20% of all employees in any one crew.

  5. Firing or threatening to fire worker(s) for defending or asserting legal rights, including protections under this Code, as established by a finding resulting from the complaint process adopted by the Fair Food Program, or any evidence that Buyer and CIW together find sufficient to substantiate such conduct.

  6. Using workers in the fields who are not treated as employees of the Grower on whose property they are working.

  7. Failing to pass on or otherwise provide to all covered employees as part of each payroll any "penny per pound" or other agreed upon additional employee payment or benefit incentive.

  8. Failing to comply fully with any monitoring and auditing procedures established under this Code.

  9. Failing to provide adequate drinking water, field toilets or other hygiene facilities required by any applicable laws or standards.

Consequences of Article II Violations:

  1. Within seven (7) days of being notified of an Article II violation, the Participating Grower must present an action plan, which includes a time frame for each corrective action. Buyer will consult with CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function) before informing the Grower whether the action plan meets these standards. If the action plan is not satisfactory, the Grower shall adopt the amendments to the action plan suggested by Buyer after consultation with the CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function). Growers will then set a target re-audit date, except that final corrective action shall in all cases be accomplished as quickly as feasible and in any event within 4 weeks, unless extended after consultation with the CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function).

  2. If continuous improvement and eventual full compliance are not achieved within the time frames described in Paragraph 1, Buyer will direct its distributors to cease purchasing tomatoes provided by such Growers until such time as the Grower remedies the situation to the satisfaction of Buyer and the CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function), provided that Buyer shall have a reasonable time, using reasonable best efforts, to transition purchases from that Grower to provide for a sufficient supply of tomatoes that meet Buyer quality standards.

  3. Following Buyer’s disqualification of tomatoes supplied by a violating Grower, Buyer may at its sole discretion (after consulting with the CIW or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function), resume accepting tomatoes supplied by that Grower to its distributors if an audit satisfactory to Buyer and the CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function) demonstrating compliance with the Code is completed prior to resuming business.

Article III Violations:

  1. Any violation of the Code of Conduct not listed under Articles I or II shall be an Article III violation.

Consequences of Article III Violations:

  1. Within fourteen (14) days of being notified of an Article III violation, the Participating Grower must present an action plan, which includes a time frame for each corrective action. Buyer will consult with CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function) before informing the Grower whether the action plan meets these standards. If the action plan is not satisfactory, the Grower shall adopt the amendments to the action plan suggested by Buyer after consultation with the CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function). Growers will then set a target re-audit date, except that final corrective action shall in all cases be accomplished as quickly as feasible and in any event within 2 months, unless extended after consultation with the CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function).

  2. If continuous improvement and eventual full compliance are not achieved within the time frames described in Paragraph 1, Buyer will direct its distributors to cease purchasing tomatoes provided by such Grower until such time as the Grower remedies the situation to the satisfaction of Buyer and the CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function), provided that Buyer shall have a reasonable time, using reasonable best efforts, to transition purchases from that Grower to provide for a sufficient supply of tomatoes that meet Buyer quality standards.

  3. Following Buyer’s disqualification of tomatoes supplied by a violating Grower, Buyer may, at its sole discretion (after consulting with the CIW or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function) resume accepting tomatoes supplied by that Grower to its distributors if an audit satisfactory to Buyer and the CIW (or any independent organization established by CIW to serve this function) demonstrating compliance with the Code is completed prior to resuming business.   

Part III:  Progress Towards Higher Standards

Buyer strongly encourages Participating Growers in the tomato industry to continuously improve working conditions and to provide terms and conditions that meet or exceed those provided by suppliers in other industries. Buyer will purchase to the greatest extent possible tomatoes from Participating Growers that demonstrate consistent adherence to these higher standards.

1 A credible complaint, which may be confidential but shall not be anonymous, should, through a statement of the facts, indicate how relevant laws, codes or regulations have been violated.

© 2011-2012
Coalition of Immokalee Workers