(WASHINGTON) – For the second time in a month, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters protested at Chipotle locations nationwide this week to demand that Chipotle hold its produce supplier Taylor Farms accountable for egregious health and labor violations.
Protestors held banners that read, “Chipotle: No Integrity,” and distributed leaflets that read, “Chipotle Turns Our Stomachs.”
The protests took place at more than 12 locations across the U.S., including Washington, D.C., Houston, Tex., Oakland, Calif. and Las Vegas, Nev. The protests follow more than 30 other protests at Chipotle restaurants during the past several months, as Taylor Farms workers and their union representatives demand that Chipotle live up to its proclaimed values of sustainability and integrity.
Chipotles across the West have their tomatoes and peppers supplied by Taylor Farms, a California-based produce company. Taylor Farms has drawn scrutiny for numerous food recalls. A recent salmonella outbreak in two states has been linked to a Taylor Farms bagged kale salad product.
Over the past five years, Taylor Farms has had more than 20 food recalls for problems such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli. In November 2015, Taylor Farms products containing celery and sold at Costco and other retail outlets were recalled for possible E. coli 0157:H7 contamination.
At Taylor Farms’ plant in Tracy, Calif., the company has also committed safety and health violations and violations of laws that protect workers’ rights. Recently, the company settled extensive labor rights violations that involved payments of $267,000 to
illegally terminated workers and a required posting in which the company promises to never again violate a long list of employee rights.
The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently levied dozens of citations and more than $95,000 in fines against Taylor Farms and its temp agencies in response to a toxic chemical spill and other safety problems at the Tracy facility. The October 2015 spill sent 20 workers, including pregnant women, to the hospital. Last year, Cal/OSHA also cited Taylor Farms for 44 other safety and health violations.
“We will continue to protest Chipotle for allowing its supplier, Taylor Farms, to have a total disregard for consumers’ and workers’ health and safety, as well as workers’ rights,” said Rome Aloise, Teamsters International Vice President and President of Joint Council 7 in California. “This is one of many reasons that workers at Taylor Farms’ Tracy plant aspire to form a union and collectively bargain a contract with the company. They fear for their health, and they fear retaliation if they speak up about worker safety.”
Aloise said, “Chipotle claims to serve ‘Food With Integrity’, but where’s the integrity when it turns a blind eye to its supplier’s behavior? Chipotle must not cut and run – which would hurt Taylor Farms workers – it must carry out its social responsibility and demand Taylor Farms treat workers fairly and with respect.”
“I hope Chipotle understands how serious this situation is for the workers at Taylor Farms,” said Maria Leon, a worker at Taylor Farms in Tracy. “Every single day the company demands we work in dangerous conditions. My coworkers were vomiting and fainting after the chemical spill in October, and there have been more chemical spills since then. Management fired people when we tried to exercise our rights in the workplace, and many people are afraid to speak up. Our actions today demonstrate that we will not stop until there is justice at Taylor Farms.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.