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Tomato Workers Travel 3,000 Miles to Ask for a One-Penny-a-Pound Raise; Big Supermarket Chains Give them the Cold Shoulder

My protest marching skills are a bit rusty, having last been put to use in 1968 on behalf of Eugene McCarthy and his thwarted bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. But on a bitter afternoon in Boston recently, I sloshed through a few inches of slushy snow with more than 900 supporters of the Coalition [...]

Tomato Workers Take to the Streets in Boston to Convince a $40-Billion Supermarket Conglomerate to Pay them One Penny More Per Pound

Jose Hilario, a 48-year-old native of Guerrero, Mexico, came to the United States hoping to find work in the tomato fields that surround the town of Immokalee in southwestern Florida. He wanted to send money home for his sister’s children’s schooling. Instead, he found himself enslaved—literally. For two years he was forced to toil for [...]

A Sweet Deal for Tomato Workers: Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Florida Tomato Growers Exchange Reach Landmark Labor Agreement

Thanks!   One penny a pound might not seem like much of a raise, but when you pick a ton of tomatoes a day, as a Florida farm worker can, one penny represents a raise from $50 and $70, the difference between poverty and a livable (though still paltry) wage. And it doesn’t seem radical to suggest [...]

Tomato Update: Florida’s Largest Tomato Grower Joins Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program

Just a little over a week after Pacific Tomato Growers, one of the top five tomato producers in Florida, came aboard the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food effort (see previous post), the state’s largest producer has followed suit. Here is the press release: With the the 2010 tomato season just around the corner, momentum [...]

Coalition of Immokalee Workers Lands a Knockout Blow for Field Laborers Justice

Coalition of Immokalee Workers Photograph   A few months ago, I attended an amateur boxing match in Immokalee, Fla., an agricultural community in the southwestern part of the state. It didn’t look like it was going to be a fair fight. In one corner was a strapping fellow in his late teens or early 20s. [...]

Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum on a Roll Through the Northeast. Here’s the Schedule. Check it out. A Winter Tomato or Orange Will Never Taste the Same

Fresh from stops in Washington, D. C., on the National Mall and at the State Department, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ well-traveled Modern-Day Slavery Museum is heading up the eastern seaboard. Centered around a tomato truck nearly identical to one in which slaves were locked at night in 2008 case, it will be visiting Baltimore, [...]

Food Writing’s Longest Losing Streak Ends: Estabrook Gets Beard Award for Article Exposing Slavery and Other Labor Abuses in Florida’s Tomato Fields

  Thanks, Ruth, Doc, Rux, and you, too, Jim Driving from Naples, Florida, the nation’s second-wealthiest metropolitan area, to Immokalee takes less than an hour on a straight road. You pass houses that sell for an average of $1.4 million, shopping malls anchored by Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, manicured golf courses. Eventually, gated communities [...]

Farmworkers Score Major Victory in the Fight for Fair Treatment

Chalk up another one for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the Florida-based community organization that has been trying for decades to improve the grim lot of migrant tomato pickers, most of whom toil for less than minimum wage. This week, ARAMARK, the giant corporation that supplies food to universities, hospitals, stadiums, and other institutions [...]

A Sunshine-State Attraction with a Big Difference: The Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum

With faux jungles full of parrots, pods of under-water-ballet-performing mermaids, and parks cashing in on every conceivable theme, it would seem that the last thing Florida needs is yet another “attraction.” But if you’re in the Sunshine State during the next six weeks, I strongly urge you to visit the new Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum. [...]

Florida Farm Workers Left Out in the Cold

Photograph by Scott Robertson courtesey of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers   Following this week’s prolonged cold snap in Florida, news reports bemoaned the prospect of higher prices for orange juice and crops such as strawberries, citrus, and tomatoes. The state’s governor (and United States Senate hopeful) Charlie Christ promptly issued an executive order to [...]