July 31, 2020
Update from Cream, 07/31/20
We have imported and distributed the wines of Valentina Passalacqua in Illinois since October 2019.
We are aware of the arrest of Valentina’s father, Settimio and the allegations of underpaying migrant workers as well as not providing safe working conditions in his agricultural businesses. We are also aware that, while not formally charged, Valentina has been implicated for allegedly using these same workers in her vineyards as well as still having ownership and involvement in her father’s businesses in question. We are learning more about the ‘caporalato’ phenomenon, a system prevalent in Puglia, that exploits migrant workers, violates minimum wage requirements, imposes inhumane working conditions and perpetuates racial and economic segregation.
Valentina maintains she runs her wine business independently and treats and pays her workers fairly.
We take all these allegations very seriously and have asked Valentina for detailed information, transparency and a plan of action going forward. We will monitor this information and process all developments, independent news and reports, as well as do our best to follow the facts and our feelings before deciding whether or not to continue importing her wines.
We currently have a selection of Valentina Passalacqua wines in stock. Our sales team does not have to sell these wines if they do not want to. We also understand if our trade clients do not want to purchase and support these wines, need to pause or would like any of these wines picked up. Regardless of the outcome, we will be donating a portion of the sales of this inventory to charities of our choosing and supporting local organizations defending migrant worker and immigration rights.
To be clear, in order for us to continue a collaboration, we require all workers be treated with dignity, safety, fairness and paid a livable wage. We also ask for reparations and real leadership to help dismantle the systemic abuse of migrant agricultural workers in this region.
We realize sadly that this is not the only region, country or industry where worker exploitation exists. Hopefully with more awareness, accountability, transparency and collective leadership, positive changes will result around the world. As for Puglia, we hope that Valentina and her family can use their land, wealth and influence to be leaders in changing what appears to be a broken system. We are all too familiar with broken systems in the United States. We all can do better.
We believe that regardless of size or scope, every business must pay their workers a fair wage, treat them well and provide access to healthcare. Businesses must also not discriminate based on gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Anything less is not real or sustainable and should not be acceptable or tolerated in a free society.
Cream Wine Co