Why Negotiate a Raise for Your Suppliers?!

I was eating lunch the other day and reading in the Denver Post for September 9, 2009. I noticed that Chipotle had just finalized negotiations with one of their tomato suppliers. They (Chipotle) are now going to pay an extra penny per pound to the workers, who harvest tomato’s for this chain. This is a 64%wage increase!

Why would a company negotiate and (contentiously I might add), to increase the pay of farm workers at another company by 64%?

Apparently, they decided to walk their talk. As a part of their branding campaign they have committed to Food with Integrity;a company committed to naturally grown and organic (where possible) food. For example, its pork is organic and antibiotic free. What they found was you can’t have integrity in just one part of your life. Integrity is throughout the organization or it is not.

You see, they received petitions from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who represent the pickers. Chipotle negotiated around a stalemate between the CIW, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, which had been blocking these efforts for some time; and East Coast Farms according to a report in Westword Magazine.  This penny per pound goes directly to the pickers.  I might add that Chipotle is not the only restaurant chain to go through this negotiation with the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. Burger king, McDonalds and Yum have all negotiated similar raises for tomato pickers.

So what does this represent? I think it is an example of how business leaders are having their consciousness raised. It may be through a personal experience, a commitment to their original values or even a petition. The fact remains that in spite of the news to the contrary business leaders are doing good work. They are getting back to the values that lead to sustainability. (Sustainability defined as delivering and receiving value in a community in such a way that it sustains itself; a perpetual motion machine if you like). The community and stakeholders win. In this case, I get to eat organic antibiotic free pork with fresh ingredients; Chipotle earns revenue from me and others like me. The individuals that contribute to our mutual exchange earn more money as well.  This is a Win/Win/Win.

If you like this please forward to your friends that might enjoy it. And have a great day.

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