Child cocoa labor: 'everybody's problem but nobody's responsibility'
February 13th, 2014
01:30 PM ET
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"So tell me," an old school friend asked, "if the demand for chocolate is so high, why are cocoa farmers so poor?"

We were sitting in the local pub, just days after I returned from a trip to the Ivory Coast, filming a CNN documentary about child labor and poverty in the chocolate industry.

Two years after CNN's Freedom Project exposed Chocolate's Child Slaves, it was time to return to the cocoa plantations to unwrap the chocolate supply chain, to investigate what progress has been made to stop child labor and to explore how farmers can get more money for their beans.
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Filed under: Chocolate • Food Politics • Human Rights • Labor Issues • Slavery


February 5th, 2014
11:45 AM ET
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The concepts of eating ethically and watching where our food comes from have become hot topics in the food world.

CNN’s forthcoming Freedom Project documentary examines the cocoa industry and the work undertaken to combat exploitation of workers throughout the journey from “bean to chocolate bar,” shining a light on the often challenging issue of eating ethically.

Broadly speaking, eating ethically can cover anything from vegetarianism to eating only local produce and boycotting foodstuffs and products which are considered wasteful or exploitative - for many it’s a personal choice.
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Filed under: Chocolate • Environment • Food Politics • Human Rights • Hunger • iReport • Labor Issues


Union-backed groups pay wages for protesting workers
December 5th, 2013
04:15 PM ET
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Karina McClain, a cashier at fast food chain Checkers in New York City, didn't show up for her shift on Thursday.

Instead, the 22 year-old joined about 100 other people outside of a Brooklyn Wendy's restaurant calling for an hourly wage increase to $15 an hour. She was holding a sign that read "Raise pay, live better."

"I have bills to pay and we don't get enough money," said McClain, who makes the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and works 20 hours a week. Missing out on a day's pay would be hard for McClain, who can barely pay for diapers and clothes for her five-month old daughter Kamayah.
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December 5th, 2013
09:30 AM ET
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Fast food protests aren't going away.

Organizers say fast food restaurant workers in 100 U.S. cities will walk off the job Thursday, as part of a continuing push to raise wages above $15 an hour in the industry and secure the right to unionize.

The movement began with a small walkout in New York City last year and has since gathered momentum. Strikes this past August drew fast food workers in 60 cities, organizers said.

The National Restaurant Association contends that the demonstrations are a "coordinated PR campaign engineered by national labor groups," and that "relatively few restaurant workers have participated" in past demonstrations.
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Filed under: Fast Food • Human Rights • Labor Issues


August 29th, 2013
10:30 PM ET
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Fast food workers in 60 cities across the U.S. walked off the job Thursday as they protest for higher wages.

Workers from fast food giants McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Yum Brands-owned KFC are calling on their employers to pay them a minimum of $15 an hour and allow them to form unions without retaliation.

Currently, the median pay for the fast food workers across the country is just over $9 an hour, or about $18,500 a year. That's roughly $4,500 lower than Census Bureau's poverty income threshold level of $23,000 for a family of four.
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Fast food workers strike in 50 cities
August 29th, 2013
11:15 AM ET
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Fast food workers in 50 cities across the U.S. are walking off the job Thursday as they protest for higher wages.

Organizers say it will be the largest strike to hit the $200 billion fast-food industry.

Workers from fast food giants McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Yum Brands-owned KFC are calling on their employers to pay them a minimum of $15 an hour and allow them to form unions without retaliation.
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Filed under: Burger King • Fast Food • Food Politics • Human Rights • KFC • Labor Issues • McDonald's • Restaurants • Service • Wendy's


Sushi hotspot fined for labor violations
March 14th, 2013
05:30 PM ET
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Protestors have taken to the streets of Beverly Hills accusing Urasawa, one of the country’s most exclusive and expensive restaurants, of theft. The victims however, are not the well-heeled patrons but are instead the servers and kitchen staff who were cheated out of compensation.

Urasawa, a world renowned Japanese restaurant, has been ordered to pay fines and back wages because it failed to pay overtime or provide breaks to employees.
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Filed under: Food Politics • Labor Issues • Restaurants • Service • Tipping


February 8th, 2013
11:30 AM ET
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Editor's note: Saru Jayaraman is the co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an advocacy organization, director of the UC Berkeley Food Labor Research Center and author of the forthcoming book "Behind the Kitchen Door" (Cornell University Press, Feb. 2013).

Like millions of Americans this winter, my toddler has the flu. The good news is that, unlike most of our nation's restaurant workers, my baby doesn't have to go to work sick.
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Opinion: Obama should address child farm labor issues now
January 19th, 2013
02:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: Cristina L.H. Traina is a Public Voices Op Ed fellow and professor at Northwestern University, where she is a scholar of social ethics.

President Barack Obama should use the breathing space provided by the fiscal-cliff compromise to address some of the issues that he shelved during his last term. One of the most urgent is child farm labor. Perhaps the least protected, underpaid work force in American labor, children are often the go-to workers for farms looking to cut costs.

It's easy to see why. The Department of Labor permits farms to pay employees under 20 as little as $4.25 per hour. (By comparison, the federal minimum wage is $7.25.) And unlike their counterparts in retail and service, child farm laborers can legally work unlimited hours at any hour of day or night.
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