Undercover at 1-800-FLOWERS: What about flower workers abroad?

Posted on April 12th, 2010 by the Fix Our Jobs crew

Our friends at the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) have issued an invitation to 1-800-FLOWERS CEO Jim McCann: Visit the flower workers who make your business possible. While 1-800-FLOWERS was featured on the season finale of “Undercover Boss,” the show didn’t mention the people who actually produce the flowers the company sells, much less the egregious conditions that characterize flower plantations. Vanessa León of ILRF has the details:

Knowing of the grave violations that these workers are forced to endure, we thought it only fair that Mr. McCann take a trip to the fields and farms of Colombia and Ecuador so as to truly be on the most frontline position in the flower industry.

ILRF runs the Fairness in Flowers Campaign, which promotes the labor rights of workers in the cut flower industry.  ILRF Executive Director Barna Athreya sent McCann a letter (PDF) inviting him to visit the workers who grow, harvest, and package the flowers his business depends on:

Our campaign highlights a variety of labor rights violations, such as the violations of firing women when they become pregnant, exposure to toxic chemicals and even child labor. With their hardship in mind, we invite you to explore more in depth the working conditions of the workers supplying the flowers that have marked 1-800FLOWERS.COM “Your Florist of Choice”. We think that a trip to the fields and farms of Colombia and Ecuador could truly put you on the frontline alongside your workers. We would be happy to accompany you to Colombia or Ecuador and would introduce you to the men and women that struggle just to feed their families while working on farms that produce for your company.

ILRF also encouraged the company to adopt a code of conduct that addresses flower workers. León writes:

…we hope that gaining a new perspective on such conditions will push the entire company to expand on their corporate social responsibility of providing the public with a code of conduct that applies to all levels of the supply chain. Although I was able to find the corporation’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics for the Board of Directors, Officers and Employees, the document failed to include any information on the working conditions of the workers at the root of the flower industry.

We hope that Mr. McCann and 1-800-FLOWERS take ILRF’s invitation seriously.  But you can do something right now: click here to learn more about the Fairness in Flowers campaign, and click here to learn what you can do to support flower workers’ rights.

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