Farm Worker Advocates Target Kangaroo Express

Activists fighting for the rights of tobacco workers appeal to Kangaroo Express for help in pressuring big tobacco companies to improve conditions.

Kangaroo Express is coming under fire from activists campaigning to end human rights abuses faced by tobacco farm workers.

The Cary N.C.-based c-store is being targeted after activists requested a meeting with the chain’s chairman to discuss how the chain could help them end the abuse, and did not receive a reply, Facing South reported.

Kangaroo Express was singled out because it carries tobacco products distributed by McLane Co., which is the largest customer of Reynolds American, the North Carolina-based tobacco giant, Facing South reported.

A report released last year by FLOC and Oxfam America showed tobacco farm workers are facing human rights abuses, such as pay below minimum wage, nicotine poisoning caused by a lack of protective gear, inadequate housing, and fear of being fired or deported for reporting such problems.

In late 2011, a group of North Carolina organizations led by the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro wrote to Kangaroo Chairman Ed Holman requesting a meeting to discuss steps Kangaroo Express could take to help improve conditions for the farm workers who produce the tobacco the retail chain sells in its stores.

When Holman didn’t respond, the activists launched a campaign to send electronic faxes to Kangaroo Express asking Holman to meet with farm worker advocates.

The fax states:  “Reynolds American is the largest tobacco company in North Carolina. Though Reynolds does not directly employ the tobacco farm workers, it contracts with growers and sets the terms, thereby affecting conditions both within the supply chain and beyond. McLane Co. Inc. is the largest customer of Reynolds American and the largest distributor of tobacco products for Kangaroo stores.

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which represents tobacco farm workers, has asked McLane to arrange a meeting between FLOC and Reynolds to address abusive conditions in the tobacco fields. We believe that your help could be decisive in ending human rights abuses in the tobacco fields of North Carolina.”




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