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CEO DATELINE – Produce groups release ethics guidelines for labor practices

July 16, 2018
By Walt Williams

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The Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association have launched what the groups are calling a framework for responsible labor practices in the fresh produce and floral supply chains. 

The Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices approved by the boards of both associations provides “a common baseline for accountability and transparency” for labor practices in the produce and floral industries, according to a joint statement issued July 12.  The boards of both associations approved the charter earlier this year.

“The Ethical Charter and its principles reflect the desire of our members to converge and harmonize the many positive efforts that already exist to enhance working conditions,” United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel said.

The charter is divided into three broad categories. Companies that endorse the document agree to respect labor laws such as those regarding workplace safety and pay. They agree to a set of professional conduct principles, such as giving workers the right to freely discuss concerns about the workplace with their employers. They also agree to respect human rights, pledging not tolerate any form of modern-day slavery or hire children under age 15 even where no minimum age requirements exist.

“We recognize and applaud all the good work already being done in this area both through advocacy and action, but we also recognize we have a responsibility to do more as companies and individuals to advance this cause,” PMA CEO Cathy Burns said. “Public launch of the charter supported by key endorsers should drive further collaboration, momentum and endorsement.”

So far more than 40 companies have endorsed the document, according to the associations.