Uncategorized

From farm to table – A look at labor practices in the food chain

A new report released by the Food Chain Workers Alliance takes a closer look at the wages and working conditions of the occupations and industries involved in bringing us our food. Core food occupations along the food chain include farmworkers, processing facilities workers, warehouse workers, grocery store workers, and restaurant workers. Together the “food system” employs one in five private-sector workers, yet taken as a whole, provides some of the least sustainable working conditions. Here are some data points from the study:

  • 86.5 percent of the workers surveyed reported earning low or poverty wages,
  • 79 percent lacked access to paid sick days,
  • 83 percent did not have health insurance,
  • 36 percent experienced wage theft in the previous week, and
  • 57.2 percent suffered injury or health problems on the job.

These poor working conditions affect the economic security of workers, but also increase public costs (food system workers use public assistance at higher rates), risk public health (53 percent of workers had worked when sick due to a lack of paid sick days), and keep local economies from thriving.

Mark Bittman wrote an interesting opinion piece about the report in the NY Times yesterday, noting that sustainable food does not always mean sustainable labor practices.

If you care about sustainability — the capacity to endure — it’s time to expand our definition to include workers. You can’t call food sustainable when it’s produced by people whose capacity to endure is challenged by poverty-level wages.

For more information about occupations in the restaurant industry in North Carolina and the history and impact of the sub-minimum wage, take a look at our report: Tipping the Scales toward Fair Wages.

Check Also

A big picture view of the CBO’s minimum wage report

This week’s release of the Congressional Budget Office ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

On a sultry day last September, Megan Stilley arrived at Lanier Farms, a large swine operation in ru [...]

When North Carolina lawmakers approved what one Republican described as a “historic” investment in r [...]

Lawmakers late last week released two new versions of a judicial redistricting bill, making these th [...]

An omnibus bill alleviating some of the headaches associated with North Carolina’s class size crisis [...]

The General Assembly’s latest mashup legislation is an example of government at its worst In the com [...]

The post Tied up in knots appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Every day brings new reports that Congress is interested in further whittling away at the programs c [...]

When Congress finally passed a continuing resolution last month allowing the government to re-open, [...]

Upcoming Events

Friday, Feb. 16

12:00 PM

Crucial Conversation – Prof. Peter Edelman discusses his new book, Not a Crime to be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America

Prof. Edelman is coming to the Triangle to mark the 50th anniversary of Durham-based nonprofit MDC. His visit is the first of a series of MDC-sponsored events focused on ways that Southern leaders can work together to create an Infrastructure of Opportunity that shapes a South where all people thrive.”