Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another fast-food chain agrees to pay tomato pickers more, but growers' group still opposed

Florida tomato pickers could see their pay nearly double following an agreement between their organization and Miami-based Burger King, the second-largest U.S. hamburger-restaurant chain.

"Under the deal with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Burger King agreed to pay 1.5 cents more per pound of tomatoes it buys from Florida growers, with a penny of that going to the workers," report The Courier-Journal and The Associated Press. "Louisville's Yum! Brands was the first restaurant company to agree to pay slightly more for the tomatoes used by its chains, following a lengthy boycott of its Taco Bell chain. McDonald's also agreed to a similar deal last year. ... Those deals have existed on paper only because the industry group representing Florida tomato growers refused to allow its members to participate." (Read more)

The previous agreements added a penny a pound. To encourage the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to accept the latest deal, Burger King agreed to pay 1.5 cents more per pound, with the extra half-cent to cover administrative costs and any additional payroll taxes. The exchange still opposes the deals. "It says no legal avenue exists to ensure the raise is passed on to workers, who it estimates make an average of $12.50 per hour. The coalition estimates workers earn 45 cents per 32-pound bucket," the Miami Herald reported. (Read more) Burger King said the deal would cost it $320,000 a year.

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