Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bananas! And you thought Chiquita was bringing real jobs

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Did you hear? Our city and state just promised $22 million in incentives to Chiquita for the promise of a company headquarters and 400 jobs. That breaks down to $55,000 per job.

Oh, but wait! What was that? Most of the jobs will be imported from another city?

From The Charlotte Observer:

The company is set to bring about 417 jobs to the city, including accountants, human resources staff, IT workers and finance specialists. About 300 of those will be jobs from the company's Cincinnati headquarters.

Many of the other 100-plus jobs will be coming from Salinas, Calif., the headquarters of the former Fresh Express, bought by Chiquita in 2005. Some jobs will remain in Cincinnati, including people who deal with the Kroger supermarket chain.

Although the majority of employees will be offered the opportunity to relocate, Aguirre said he expects the company will end up hiring about 200 in Charlotte. The jobs will pay an average salary of over $106,000, state officials said, and Aguirre expects the move to be completed by late 2012.

Read the rest of this article, by Ely Portillo, here.

So, make that $110,000 in state and local incentives — i.e. our tax dollars — for each potential job ... more than the employees will make in a year.

Golly, gee everybody. Let's do the Banana Dance to celebrate, whaddaysay? It's just tax money; people send that to the government all the time. Hell. It's a renewable resource!

Chiquita is such a fine company. We're so ... wait, what was that about terrorists?

From the Associated Press, circa 2007:

Banana company Chiquita Brands International said Wednesday it has agreed to a $25 million fine after admitting it paid terrorists for protection in a volatile farming region of Colombia.

The settlement resolves a lengthy Justice Department investigation into the company’s financial dealings with right-wing paramilitaries and leftist rebels the U.S. government deems terrorist groups.

In court documents filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors said the Cincinnati-based company and several unnamed high-ranking corporate officers paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC for its Spanish initials.

The AUC has been responsible for some of the worst massacres in Colombia’s civil conflict and for a sizable percentage of the country’s cocaine exports. The U.S. government designated the right-wing militia a terrorist organization in September 2001.

Read the rest of this article here.

But, but, the CEO has been on "Undercover Boss" and they put Donkey Kong stickers on their bananas once upon a time.

From Toward Freedom:

While facing a billion-dollar lawsuit that alleges it paid a ruthless Colombian militia to murder union leaders of its banana pickers, Chiquita Brand International is putting Donkey Kong stickers on its bananas in what Madison Avenue is calling a perfect example of cross-promotion.

The families of the murdered union leaders, however, would probably cringe, and painfully ask, “Why not just raise wages for Chiquita banana pickers instead of spending millions on a video game?”

Perhaps someday, Chiquita and other mega-corporations will be forced to place a sticker on their product that will allow consumers to scan it with a cell phone to download information telling them where the product was made, how much the workers were paid, and how they were treated.

Advocates for corporate transparency argue for stickers on products which explain the labor process that the product went through before it arrived in the store. This is just one idea being floated around by labor rights activists who continue to struggle for a true fair trade that puts people over profit. But putting such stickers on products wouldn’t come easily as corporations would go bananas and put up a bitter fight.

Read the rest of this post, by John Lasker, here.

Oh, but the company can explain all of that, and with cute kid pictures, too. Never mind the black sigatoka fungus that's threatening the banana industry.

Fuck all that. Let's dance! We bought us some jobs, yo. Boogie woogie.

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