When I was in high school, I was active with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) campaign against Taco Bell. I organized the boycott on Taco Bell among my friends. And I attended a few protests at the world headquarters in Irvine.

Around that same time, I started investing in Whole Foods. As a person interested in food ethics, I found their vendor policies refreshing. Their focus on locally grown, independently owned, and environmentally sustainable foods was really appealing to me. I have been a proud stock owner of Whole Foods Market ever since. Over the years, I have seen the stocks rise and fall, voted my proxies and stayed true-blue to the company I had partial ownership in.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday I read Lisa’s post on the Coalition’s most recent successes with Burger King.

But by the beginning of 2008, other fast food companies, including Burger King, Subway, and Whole Foods (yes, really–Whole Foods), still hadn’t budged towards the side of just compensation.

My Whole Foods Company had not yet signed with the CIW. I felt a complex series of emotions including heartache and betrayal. This company, whom I have stuck with through embarrassing staff mishaps and poor stock performance after a messy court case, has now refused to work with the CIW.

As someone who considers himself a socially responsible investor, I immediately wrote a letter to the Whole Foods Investor Relations Office to inform them of my disappointment. How could a company that promotes itself as a responsible and progressive company refuse to talk with the CIW? How could such a company fall behind the practices of such companies as McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King?

This is one stockholder who will not let up this issue. Back in high school, when I had little to no power, I helped the CIW accomplish their goals. Now that I have shareholder power, I will continue to write my letters until the CIW gets their way.

If you hold stocks in or shop at Whole Foods, Chipotle, Subway, or Wal-Mart, you may want to write letters asking them to work with the CIW to receive a fair wage.

For more information on socially responsible investing please visit the UUA’s SRI site. And to learn how to better support the Coalition’s fight for fair wages, please visit http://www.ciw-online.org/index.html

About the Author
Alex Winnett

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