Target: Robert Nelson, President and CEO of the National Coffee Association
Goal: Ensure that coffee sold in the United States is not being produced by child and slave labor overseas.
Investigators have found thousands of children working on coffee plantations throughout the world, some as young as seven years old. Some of these children reported being kidnapped from their families or sold into slavery to work on the plantation, while others were working alongside their parents to help support the family. Children are often injured and beaten during their work day, and no safeguards exist to ensure that they are receiving proper nutrition or medical care. Some children have even died from malnutrition on plantations in Guatemala and elsewhere in South America. The coffee they produce ends up on American shelves, being sold to consumers who have no idea about the atrocious conditions which exist for workers.
Children and other coffee plantation laborers are often required to work 12 hour days. Those that earn wages typically receive $2-$3 per day, while children earn even less and forced laborers receive no wages at all. Labor costs for the production of coffee only account for 1% of the retail price that consumers pay for coffee in the United States. Corporate greed and a lack of oversight have kept conditions on coffee plantations horrific, yet no organization or governmental department will take responsibility. Coffee companies such as Folgers, Maxwell House, and Nescafe all import coffee from plantations that use child and forced labor. These companies deny liability for conditions on plantations and factories overseas, even though the low cost they are willing to pay for labor has created these conditions.
The National Coffee Association represents and oversees the major coffee distributors in the United States. Part of their responsibility is to handle international concerns regarding inequity in the coffee industry. Demand that the President and CEO of the National Coffee Association ensure that child and forced labor are not being used overseas on coffee plantations.
Dear Robert Nelson,
As you know, U.S. coffee companies, such as Folgers, Maxwell House, and Nescafe import coffee from plantations which use child and forced labor. Conditions on these plantations are atrocious. Children are often malnourished and injured from the demanding physical labor that they are required to perform. Some children have even died on these plantations from malnutrition. The International Labor Organization reported that some of these children had been kidnapped from their families or sold into slavery.
Even workers who receive wages only receive $2-$3 per day, which represents only 1% of the retail price that Americans pay for coffee. You have been reported saying that it is not your responsibility to monitor conditions on coffee plantations overseas. However, other companies and organizations have successfully combated child labor by periodically inspecting facilities in which their products are produced and refusing to import goods from producers who violate child and forced labor laws. Your organization oversees and represents the coffee industry in the United States and could easily do the same. Refusing to take responsibility for abhorrent labor conditions on plantations that sell their coffee beans to the companies you represent demonstrates complicity in slave and child labor.
Please ensure that all coffee sold in the United States was not produced using child or forced labor.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: shashish via Flickr