Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association Launch Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices
- by Kayla Webb
WASHINGTON, DC - After two years dedicated to finding a way to support our pivotal industry workers, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association are launching the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices, a framework for responsible labor practices in fresh produce and floral supply chains.
In January, the Boards approved the Charter, which was formally endorsed by more than 40 retail and foodservices companies, including Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, McDonalds, Sam’s Club, Wegmans, and fresh fruit, vegetable, and floral companies.
“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,” said United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “We have both success stories in our industry and progress still to be made. We are providing these resources to encourage additional companies to endorse the Ethical Charter and demonstrate a commitment to workplace safety, respect for worker dignity, compliance with applicable laws, and to building a shared understanding across the industry on responsible labor practices.”
According to a press release, PMA and United Fresh are using the Charter to raise awareness of industry labor issues; increase commitment to the Charter and its principles, including encouraging more companies to add their endorsement; and provide tools and resources, like measurement criteria, a self-assessment form, a responsible sourcing guide, and an endorsement packet, as a means to promote responsible labor standards across the industry.
“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,” said Cathy Burns, PMA CEO. “Public launch of the Charter supported by key endorsers should drive further collaboration, momentum, and endorsement. Central tenets to success include education, continuous learning and progress, and day-to-day behavior and actions.”
As part of the process of developing the Charter, the Boards of PMA and United Fresh formed the Joint Committee on Responsible Labor Practices back in 2015, which pulled input from buyers, suppliers, association members, expert consultants, key stakeholders, and public comments to develop a draft charter.
“As a member of the PMA Board, I’ve been involved in this work because it is important to us, the industry, and our customers,” said Sam’s Club's Russell Mounce, who co-chaired the Joint Committee on behalf of PMA. “This is an important step in our ongoing efforts to support the dignity of workers, wherever they may be in our supply chains.”
Co-Chair on behalf of United Fresh Brian Kocher of Castellini Group of Companies added, “We worked hard to build consensus on the fundamentals of responsible labor practices, as well as measurement criteria that will demonstrate compliance with these principles. We are now inviting all industry members to endorse the Charter, and to commit to its unified guiding principles. Further commitment and progress will benefit the entire industry.”
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