Immokalee labor group pressuring Publix

06/08/2009 05:37:39 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is pressuring Publix Super Markets Inc., Lakeland, Fla., to participate in deals to increase pay for Florida tomato workers.

The coalition (CIW) started a letter-writing campaign to convince Publix to pay farmworkers an additional penny per-pound.

The move follows the organization gaining support from two Florida organic tomato and vegetables growers.

A Publix spokeswoman in a statement said tomatoes are merely one of more than 35,000 products Publix sells.

“With so many products available for sale to consumers, the reality is that there is the potential for countless ongoing disputes between suppliers, their employees and/or their unions, at any one time,” the statement said.

“Publix has a long history of non-intervention in such disputes. While we respectfully decline the opportunity to participate in this program, we do recognize the importance of each and every link in our country’s food supply, and we join you in encouraging both parties to resolve this matter to the mutual satisfaction of everyone involved.”

Whole Foods Market Inc., Austin, Texas, said on June 4 that two Florida organic vegetable grower-shippers joined the retailer’s efforts to support the coalition’s penny initiative.

Libba Letton, a Whole Foods spokeswoman, said the agreements with Alderman Farms Sales Corp., Boynton Beach, Fla., and Chambersburg, Pa.-based Lady Moon Farms Inc., which has a Punta Gorda, Fla., operation, has the retailer paying its growers a premium that the growers will distribute to workers.



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