Wawa, a popular convenience store in the Northeast, is also an important customer of McLane distribution company, Reynolds’ largest customer. Consumers as well as State Federations have written to Wawa, first asking the company to help arrange a meeting between FLOC and McLane, and later asking the company to convey consumer concerns to Reynolds. Wawa refused to help arrange a meeting with McLane and consumers, saying that the company has a strict policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of their suppliers and vendors.
The Youth and Young Adult Network (YAYA) of the National Farmworker Ministry has visited Wawa stores in Florida asking for a response to their letters and a meeting with the company. See the report from YAYA.
On February 28, members of various groups from Pennsylvania and New Jersey joined FLOC and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) in delivering a letter to Wawa Headquarters in Media, PA, regarding the human rights of the farmworkers harvesting tobacco sold at Wawa stores. The letter had previously been sent certified mail and faxed to Wawa Headquarters in December, and was also delivered by a delegation of consumers to the wawa store in Philadelphia by a delegation on December 11 for human rights day, but Wawa consumers received no response. After various attempts to communicate with Wawa executives went ignored, concerned consumers decided to travel to the headquarters personally and ask for a response.
Arriving to the headquarters mid-morning, the delegation of 20 people was greeted by a surprised receptionist, who called a representative from CEO Chris Gheysen’s office. The representative was friendly and invited the group in to discuss the letter. After explaining to her the brutal conditions that farmworkers live and work in, as well as Reynolds’ refusal to sign an agreement guaranteeing labor rights for the farmworkers in their supply chain, she apologized for the lack of communication and committed to responding to the letters as soon as possible. Unfortunately, to date, no response has been received. We won’t let Wawa ignore consumer concerns! Stay tuned for more follow up coming soon.
Special thanks to Norris Square Civic Association, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), Farmworker Support Committee (CATA), Philadelphia APRI, Delaware County Central Labor Council, and everyone else who helped send this message to Wawa!