US: Workers rights group turns attention on Publix

Yesterday in FreshPlaza we reported how Trader Joe's had finally signed up to an agreement to pay more for their tomatoes to increase payment to farm workers. Now the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is focusing its efforts on Publix, which has so far refused to take part in the agreement.

Tomato workers and other activists have been protesting outside a Publix store and calling for them to change their stance over the agreement, which would see them spending an extra penny per pound on tomatoes. .

"It would help us work with greater dignity," said Guadalupe Gonzalo, a farm worker who protested in Naples with her son, "it would enable us to buy more food and healthier food for our children."

The protest was initially supposed to take place outside Trader Joe's, but was relocated after Trader Joe's signed up the agreement late last week.

In a statement Publix Spokeswoman Shannon Patten says the chain "is more than willing to pay a penny more per pound, or whatever the market price for tomatoes will be in order to provide the goods to our customers."

The emphasis is certainly on "market price" which Publix says it plays no role in setting, instead pointing out that the market price is set by the grower or packer.

"This is a labour dispute and we simply aren't involved," said Patten.

Other chains, including Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonald's and Whole Food have also signed the agreement.


Publication date: 2/14/2012

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