Monday, November 16, 2009

Migrant Farm Workers to Florida's Publix Supermarket Chain: "Embrace Fair Wages"

"At St. Petersburg Publix, protesters march over farmworkers' pay"
By Dominick Tao, Times Staff Writer
Picture by Kathleen Flynn, Times
In Print: Monday, November 16, 2009

"The protesters were backing the Coalition of Immokalee workers, a community group made up of farmworkers from southwest Florida. In the past, the group has pressured large companies like McDonald's and Whole Foods to pay more for tomatoes harvested by migrant workers.

Now, the coalition has moved on to Florida's largest supermarket chain...

In short: The group wants Florida's green giant of grocery stores to pay its suppliers a penny more per pound of tomatoes picked, an increase that could represent a nearly twofold increase in farmworkers' daily wage.

Publix representatives hovered nearby. The company had cameramen capturing the action. St. Petersburg police officers also stood vigil, keeping the protest off Publix property, and the passing cars away from the protesters...

Publix representative Shannon Patten, who has been present at most of the coalition's supermarket protests around the state in recent weeks, said the workers' efforts are misplaced.

'It's a dispute between the farms and the farmworkers,' Patten said. 'We just don't get involved.'
Patten said Publix does not set the price of tomatoes and pays market value for its produce.

One of the farmworkers who had come from Southwest Florida for the protest, Silvia Perez, had strong words for the Fortune 500 company. 'Publix has two options. They can embrace fair wages, or buy from a harvest of shame,' Perez said."

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