"Independent" Labor Report on McDonald's Puréed in Tomatoland

When does an independent labor advocacy group's work turn into corporate PR? The Connecticut-based Center for Reflection, Education and Action (CREA) finds itself right on the line. CREA recently announced partial results of a study of Florida tomato suppliers, crediting one McDonald's supplier with exceeding industry best practices, including pay sometimes higher than $18 an hour. But an analysis by Florida International University--endorsed by 30 national labor experts--says the CREA study is “so riddled with errors both large and small that it cannot be accepted as factually accurate on virtually any measure.” CREA rushed the report into print while other studies of tomato suppliers were still pending (PDF). McDonald's promptly published the report's conclusions. The report's release coincided with a campaign by the Coalition for Immokalee Workers calling on McDonald's to match Taco Bell's recent "penny-a-pound" pay increase to tomato pickers.