Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Plant City04/17/07 Seán Kinane
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The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, or CIW, an organization made up of immigrant farmworkers in south Florida. Last week they got McDonalds to agree to their demand of an increase in wages of one penny per pound of tomatoes. As WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports, a bus full of CIW workers stopped for lunch prepared by supporters today at St. Clement Catholic Church in Plant City.
The recent victory by CIW comes two years after Taco Bell and their parent company Yum Brands agreed to similar demands. For the last couple of weeks they have been on a bus tour of the country in order to rally support. The tour finished last week in Chicago where the CIW held a victory celebration in front of 2,000 people at the Chicago House of Blues. This evening they will return to Immokalee, Florida but the bus made a final stop for lunch in Plant City.
Lucas Benitez is a co-founder and staff member of CIW. He described the agreement with McDonalds and noted that it will be implemented in time for next tomato season that begins in October.
WMNF asked Benitez why it took McDonalds less time to agree to the demands of CIW than it did for Taco Bell and Yum Brands. He attributes it to the alliances that CIW has formed over years of struggle.
The companies that CIW will target next for a penny per pound raise include Subway and Wal-Mart. But in the meantime they will step up their new campaign to get a raise from Burger King, a company that Benitez thinks has paid more attention in the past to the rights of animals than to the rights of farmworkers.
Gerardo Reyes Chavez is a CIW staff member and a farmworker. He acknowledged that the McDonalds victory was important because it is the largest restaurant chain in the world and other companies will follow their lead in a domino effect.
In addition to the raise, which almost doubled the wages of the tomato pickers, the agreement with McDonalds, like the one with Taco Bell, required the implementation of a code of conduct that guarantees workers’ rights. Reyes feels that every time consumers sit down to a meal they should think about where their food comes from and opt for what CIW calls “fair food.” He thinks that Burger King should decide to do what is right now that McDonalds has.
To find out more about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their Burger King Campaign, visit their website at C-I-W -dash- -online- -dot- -org-
For WMNF News, reporting from Plant City, I’m Seán Kinane
Coalition of Immokalee Workers