JP Morgan Chase is one of the lead banks in a consortium of lenders that provides $498 million dollars in credit to Reynolds American, one of the largest tobacco companies in the US. While Reynolds American and JP Morgan Chase make billions, tobacco farmworkers continue to suffer serious human rights abuses in the fields. Although Reynolds does not directly employ these farmworkers, they determine the terms for contract growers which directly affects the living and working conditions of farmworkers.
Reynolds American and JP Morgan Chase have the ultimate responsibility and financial resources to ensure safe and humane working conditions for tobacco farmworkers.
As a major lender to Reynolds, Chase has the stature and resources to convince Reynolds to improve conditions for tobacco farmworkers. Since May 12, 2010 FLOC has been asking Chase to use their influence to push Reynolds to address farmworker exploitation. To date Chase has refused to take any action.
Heeding FLOC's call, IWJ has sent the following letter to JPMorgan Chase CEO James Dimon:
October 20, 2010
Mr. James Dimon
Chairman and CEO
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
270 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-2070
Dear Mr. Dimon,
Interfaith Worker Justice is currently a business credit card holder with JP Morgan Chase. The organization charges approximately $150,000 a year on its account.
Generally, the organization has been happy with its services from your bank. But recently we were informed by our allies at the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) that JP Morgan Chase is a major lender to Reynolds American, one of the largest tobacco corporations in the country.
Farmworkers endure some of the worst conditions of any workers in our country. The human rights abuses they suffer, especially for such low pay, is a deplorable reality. Reynolds American has the ability to help improve these conditions by requiring contract growers to set standards for safe working conditions in the fields.
As one of the largest banks in the country, you can also help improve conditions for these workers. You have the financial resources to pressure Reynolds American into doing the right thing - working with FLOC to set a new and just standard for farmworkers.
Interfaith Worker Justice is an organization that strives to promote justice in the workplace. Without a responsible response from your bank, we will be forced to consider closing our Chase credit card and looking for a bank that is more aligned with our mission.
Thank you for your consideration of this request from a loyal customer.
Stay tuned to find out if IWJ gets a response from Chase. And consider support FLOC's divestment campaign by closing your Chase bank account or by pledging not to bank with Chase.