Trader Joes Tomatoes
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Uploaded on Nov 22, 2010
TOMATOES DECRY CONDITIONS IN WHICH THEY WERE PICKED
AND TARGET SUPERMARKET CHAIN TRADER JOE'S
- Joined by Human Rights activists, Tomatoes urge Trader Joe's to join the growing Campaign for Fair Food -
New York, NY - On Saturday November 13th, a group of tomatoes will gather in front of the Union Square Trader Joe's grocery store to decry the human rights abuses they have witnessed as they were being harvested by Florida farmworkers.
The Community/Farmworker Alliance NYC is hosting the Tomatoes as part of a national week of action urging supermarket industry leaders -- including Trader Joe's and Stop & Shop -- to agree to work with farmworkers to substantively improve working conditions and wages in Florida's tomato fields. This Campaign for Fair Food is spearheaded by the internationally-recognized, Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), with whom the Community/Farmworker Alliance works in partnership. The Campaign for Fair Food has thus far resulted in nine successful working agreements with retail food leaders such as McDonald's, Taco Bell, Sodexo and Whole Foods to support more fair wages and humane standards in their tomato supply chains, and to preferentially purchase tomatoes from growers who meet these higher standards.
This week of action comes on the heels of a historic sea change in Florida agriculture as two of the largest tomato growers in Florida recently agreed to work with the CIW to implement the wage increase and Code of Conduct at the heart of the Campaign for Fair Food. This brings the total number of participating Florida growers to 5.
Trader Joe's has the ability and the responsibility to join this rising tide of Fair Food and also work with the CIW toward the elimination of labor abuses in Florida's fields.
Florida tomato pickers are paid by an antiquated piecerate system and earn, on average, 50 cents for each 32-pound bucket of tomatoes harvested. Tomatoes are sold at Trader Joe's stores for as high as $3.99 a pound. Workers have not received a significant wage increase in 30 years and must harvest and haul nearly 2.5 tons of tomatoes in order to earn the equivalent of minimum wage for a typical 10-hour day. In the past 13 years, there have been 9 federal prosecutions for forced labor operations involving a total of well over 1,200 Florida farmworkers.
Cherry Red, a tomato who is participating in the action, says, "I have witnessed workers toiling away in the fields all day, picking literally tons of tomatoes yet they are paid sub-poverty wages which make them susceptible to further exploitation and at times modern-day slavery."
Community/Farmworker Alliance NYC member Luis Gomez said, "Trader Joe's needs to be part of the solution by coming to the table and meeting with The Coalition of Immokalee Workers. If they allow workers to have a voice at their workplace, they can raise wages, improve conditions and bring an end to the harvest of shame in the United States."
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