UFW presence on Equitable Food Initiative ruins a good idea

EFI looks like a protection racket for UFW. That's too bad. It could have led to something good.

EFI looks like a protection racket for UFW. That’s too bad. It could have led to something good.

Farmworkers are everyone’s first line of defense for safe and healthy food. So it’s vital that they be part of any process to ensure wholesome food for everyone.

The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) sounds like a great idea – to ensure that farmworkers are right there to watch against food-borne diseases and other health issues as they harvest and pack produce. Part of that means treating the farmworkers well and not punishing them if they come forward with evidence of contaminated food.

This requires a cooperative relationship between workers and their employers. So far, so good.

But the EFI falls apart because its leaders politicized the issue from the start. According to FoodSafetyNews.com, board members who set EFI standards include the United Farm Workers (UFW) union.

That doesn’t make sense, because the UFW represents only 1% of farmworkers. Maybe even less. The other 99% of farmworkers are not represented on the EFI board.

And since the UFW’s business model is to stoke conflict and hostility between workers and their employers – often needlessly – the UFW ensures against worker-employer collaboration.

The EFI is also questionable because its board includes a representative from Costco Wholesale Corp. We don’t have confidence in Costco because the company has been pandering to the UFW.

EFI is going to certify farms that meet its UFW-approved standards. That means that EFI is likely to discriminate against farmworkers who don’t want to pay 3 percent of their income to the UFW.

EFI will issue favorite producers a seal of approval, with the slogan, “Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured.” Kind of like “fair trade” or “rain forest-friendly.”

This is all great, but it looks like there’s a lot of favoritism built in for those who pay off the UFW.

So the whole EFI initiative is really a politicized scam. EFI looks like a protection racket for the UFW and the politicians who sponsor it.

And that’s too bad.

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