Sign this Sweet Petition
I’m sure some farmers have handed out cheese curds or an apple to trick or treaters, but most of them probably go with Snickers, Reese’s, and M&M’s like everyone else. (Just make sure it’s milk chocolate!)
Whatever your Halloween plans this year, please consider for a moment the warehouse where all those sweet treats are packed, loaded, and trucked to Wisconsin. The bulk are likely shipped out of Joliet, Illinois, one of the largest trucking hubs in the world.
That’s where Mars Wrigley, one of the largest and most profitable agribusiness corporations in world history, aggregates tons of candy, gum, and other snack products and redistributes it out to outlets all over the country. Obviously, Halloween is a big season for them, and predictably, those warehouse workers are not getting their due. As Sarah Reinhardt wrote today in a blog post for the Union of Concerned Scientists, warehouse workers have faced the same dangers of many other workers along the food chain this year, lacking access to PPE, being forced to violate social distancing, inadequate testing and sick leave, and more.
But it gets worse: when over 100 Mars Wrigley workers at a Joliet warehouse signed a petition to advocate for safety in their workplace, many were fired or blacklisted from future work. This is despicable. At Farmers Union, we believe workers deserve fair wages and a safe workplace, and they deserve freedom to express their concerns without retaliation, harassment, and discrimination.
Warehouse Workers for Justice believes this too, so today they’re putting on costumes and rallying outside the corporate headquarters in Chicago (follow their event here) to demand that Mars Wrigley assure health and safety provisions be enacted immediately, re-hire those workers who were fired (with back pay), meet with workers to plan for the future, and close the warehouses intermittently in order to adequately sanitize it (without disrupting pay schedules for workers).
These workers are our neighbors and bring us our food, just like farmers. I hope you’ll give them some support by signing their petition. Let them know you’re a farmer who stands with workers, and take some time to learn more about WWJ and their co-conspirators in this cheeky action: the HEAL Food Alliance, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, and the Chicago Food Policy Action Council.
If Mars won’t pay fair wages, how can we expect them to pay farmers fair prices? When we stand together, we win together. That’s sweet.