Immokalee tomato harvesters win agreement with Trader Joe's

02/10/12 Kelly Benjamin
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Yesterday, the nationwide specialty grocery store chain, Trader Joe’s, signed a landmark agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. It guarantees the company will pay one penny more per pound of tomatoes picked by immigrant farm workers in South Florida. The agreement came a day before planned protests of the grand opening of the first Trader Joe’s in the state.

Protests were planned in over 40 cities nationwide this weekend against Trader Joe’s for failing to sign on to the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s Fair Food Program. The program was developed by tomato harvesters in collaboration with growers and the food industry to improve labor standards for farm workers in Immokalee who often work long hours under the Florida sun for dismal wages. The Fair Food Agreement signed yesterday commits Trader Joe’s to paying one penny more per pound FOR tomatoes and to only buying tomatoes from growers who comply with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Code of Conduct. Cruz Salucio is a tomato picker from Immokalee.

Early this morning, a dozen tomato pickers embarked on a pilgrimage by bicycle from the tomato fields of Immokalee to Naples. The group cancelled its protest against Trader Joe’s and instead bicycled to the Publix supermarket across the street.

Cruz Salucio addressed Scott Kiesel, the manager of the local Publix in Naples.

Next month, several tomato pickers from Immokalee intend to hold a week-long fast at the Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland.

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