Pressure on McDonald's over famworkers pays off

By Ecumenical News International
April 16, 2007

US church leaders are lauding a wage agreement between the McDonald's fast-food chain and a group representing migrant farm workers in the state of Florida - writes Chris Herlinger.

The agreement between McDonald's USA and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers requires the restaurant chain to pay one US cent more for every pound of tomatoes picked by the farm workers, a move that will double the farm workers' wages.

The agreement announced last week follows a similar agreement in 2005 between the workers' coalition and Yum Brands, the corporate owners of the Taco Bell fast-food chain. The cause of improving conditions for farm workers has been taken up by a number of US religious bodies, including the US Presbyterian Church and the National Council of Churches.

[See earlier Ekklesia reports: US church fair-wage activists pressurise McDonald's; McDonald's under fire from US church body]

In a statement, the Rev Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian church said the agreement "may be the tipping point for the entire fast-food industry in a real move toward human rights and fair food for everyone".

Still, the Rev Dr Robert Edgar, National Council of Churches USA general secretary, cautioned that the latest agreement was a good start but that more needs to be done to improve conditions for farm workers in the United States.

"There are many thousands of other workers - our brothers and sisters who pick the food over which we say grace at our dinner tables - who must still settle for poverty level wages, deplorable living conditions and unsafe working conditions," Dr Edgar said.

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

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