After years of struggle, tomato pickers in Florida will soon see a pay increase.
In a surprise move Tuesday, the Florida Tomato Exchange agreed to pay migrant workers the extra penny per pound the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has fought for the last three years.The Exchange said it will allow companies like McDonalds and Burger King to pay the extra penny per pound to workers if they choose. It represents growers producing 75 percent of all Florida tomatoes.Those companies will pay a supplemental wage based on the amount of tomatoes purchased. The money will be divided among the migrant workers on a weekly basis.
Exchange Vice President Reggie Brown says it’s a move to allow those companies to have social accountability.
“That enables them to pass funds to the migrant worker community and we’re willing to take those funds in our payroll period and distribute those funds to the workers,” Brown said.
Lucas Benitez, spokesman for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, says it’s about time.He says the Exchange has resisted the pay increase for years, but now is spinning its change in position to make it appear the pay increase was the growers’ idea.
“The lies they made at the beginning when they said that it was impossible to pay the extra penny to the workers, now they’re saying they can. Those lies they’ve been making throughout our campaign – they’re now trying to retract,” Benitez said.
The money collected from companies like Burger King and Subway has been sitting in an escrow. Benitez says that will soon be distributed to the workers. The exchange also agreed to regular audits and a code of conduct to allow workers to more easily complain about working conditions.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:13
Florida Tomato Pickers To Receive Their Penny a PoundWritten by Luis Hernandez