Fighting for worker justice in the global economy.
Starbucks Progress Reports?
A couple of years ago, USLEAP asked the Starbucks Coffee Company to begin reporting on what impact its code of conduct has had on workers. Starbucks noted the request in its 2004 Annual Corporate Responsibility Report, quoting USLEAP, "The most fundamental corporate responsibility challenge faced by Starbucks, or any other coffee company, is to secure concrete progress in improved working conditions and respect for the basic rights of workers...."
In a meeting conducted by telephone in December 2005, Starbucks corporate responsibility staff told USLEAP it was in the process of gathering such information that would be released later in 2006. In July, USLEAP asked Starbucks for a status report on when such information might be provided to the public.
USLEAP initiated a campaign targeting Starbucks in 1994 after the company initially refused to consider adopting a code of conduct for its coffee suppliers. Starbucks subsequently agreed to adopt a code which, over time and several re-configurations, emerged into what is now called Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices (C.A.F.E.).. As previously reported, and covered on the USLEAP website, USLEAP believes C.A.F.E. contains both positive and negative elements. Starbucks describes C.A.F.E. as a work in progress, to be evaluated and improved over time.
For USLEAP, any evaluation of the effectiveness of C.A.F.E. must start with an analysis of its impact on workers on plantations from which Starbucks buys coffee. While an independent analysis is essential, a starting point would be a report from Starbucks describing what impact C.A.F.E. has had on wages, benefits, working conditions, and basic rights of workers at plantations Starbucks has designated as "preferred" suppliers, eligible for long-term contracts and higher prices. Any Starbucks report would of course need third party verification and full transparency to be credible.
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