(Jan. 25) The Florida tomato industry is responding to a group of U.S. senators that has stepped into the dispute involving an Immokalee, Fla., tomato workers group and fast-food companies such as Burger King.

Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Jan. 18 wrote to Burger King Miami-based Burger King Corp. chief executive officer John Chidsey, asking the fast-food giant to pay more to Immokalee tomato pickers.

“Recent reports suggest that the per bushel piece rate that farm workers in Immokalee, Florida, are paid has not increased in the past two decades,” the senators wrote. “Reports also indicate that slavery cases have been successfully prosecuted against individuals in the region’s tomato industry. In addition, we have heard firsthand that living conditions of local workers are among the worst in the agriculture industry.”

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