Whole Foods Agrees to Help Improve Wages in The Fields

Much has happened since the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and supporters of the Campaign for Fair Food picketed the Whole Foods Annual shareholder meeting in March.

Whole Foods has agreed to work hand in hand with the CIW to “help improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers”. A piece at The Fort Myers’ News Press elaborates:

The Texas-based natural foods giant agreed Tuesday to pay a penny and a half more per pound for Florida tomatoes and to establish higher labor standards for the workers who pick them.

Whole Foods is the first grocery chain to join Burger King, McDonald’s and Yum Brands (owner of Taco Bell and KFC, among other chains), in signing the agreement with the 4,000-plus-member farmworker organization.

Coalition member Greg Asbed has said the raise means workers’ yearly wages could rise from about $10,000 to between $16,000 and $17,000. Although there are no exact numbers, there are likely between 10,000 and 30,000 migrant farmworkers in Florida, according to government estimates. Southwest Florida accounts for about a third of the state’s tomato crop, worth roughly $619 million last year, said Reggie Brown, vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a cooperative group, to which 90 percent of the state’s growers belong.

… The agreement should send a clear message to the food industry as a whole – particularly the Florida tomato industry, said coalition member Francisca Cortez.

“The rising tide of social responsibility in American agriculture will not be turned back,” she said.

The full press release from Whole Foods can be read here.

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