Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw refuses to meet with cycling Immokalee farmworkers

09/06/11 Kelly Benjamin
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:


Tuesday, under stormy skies, a group of tomato pickers from Immokalee, Florida ended their 200 mile bicycle ride from the fields of Immokalee to the Corporate Headquarters of Publix Supermarkets in Lakeland to discuss their wages.

The group of tired farmworkers, wet from today's torrential downpour, arrived at Publix headquarters just after noon with hopes of speaking directly to Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw and inviting him to visit Immokalee, sit down with the farmworkers, and come to an agreement similar to the ones the Coalition of Immokalee Workers have reached with Burger King, Taco Bell, and McDonalds. About 75 supporters and members of the clergy joined the farmworkers at the Publix entrance including Minister Kent Siladi of the United Church of Christ.

After the prayers, the group of cycling farm workers approached the Publix headquarters entrance and were met by a public relations Representative who refused to identify himself. Jordan Buckley, an organizer with Interfaith Action who took part in the bike ride asked to speak with directly Publix's CEO.

That was Oscar Otzoy of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, speaking through a translator, demanding to speak with Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw Tuesday at Publix headquarters in Lakeland. After riding over 200 miles with the farmworkers to speak Mr. Crenshaw, Jordan Buckley of InterFaith Action expressed frustration with the PR department.

The Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers vow to continue their fair food campaign and eventually win and agreement for one penny more per pound of tomatoes.

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Kind of dumb to plan a ride on a holiday weekend. I think he wasn't even there. Also they need to talk to their employers if they want a raise. Farm workers make $9.20 an hour, then they get additional per bucket, but the CIW doesn't tell you that.


Is there any way you could site that figure of 9.20 an hour? As far as I am aware farmworkers do not have a minimum wage. In order for a farmworker to earn minimum wage they need to pick about 2 tons of tomatoes a day. Have you ever carried a bucket of tomatoes on your shoulder? try it, I bet you will be surprised at how heavy it is especially under a burning sun all day.

Been there, done that...

I covered the Immokalee farm workers for WMNF in 2009 and ask many people (workers, activists, protesting Nuns, etc.) how much were the harvestersers being paid??? NO-ONE would give me a straight answer... jeez... no one would give me any answer to that question!!! After I couldn’t find out what the “going rate” was for picking tomatoes… I had no choice but to agree with Publix… this is a labor dispute between the growers and the harvesters… not the end users.


One would expect comments like the above on the site of the Naples newspaper, but not here at WMNF... Anyway, people, please educate yourselves before making yourselves look like idiots. Where the F*** do you get off saying farmworkers make $9.20 an hour? Where? What type of farmworkers? Whose statistic is that? Tomato pickers are paid by a piecrate system. The going rate is 50 cents per 32-pound bucket, hardly more than the 40 cents per bucket they were being paid on 1980, and less than half that wage when you adjust for inflation. As for the continued lies and distortions about this being a "dispute," please think and read a little more carefully before you go and parrot the Publix PR departments' false talking points. Nine huge corporations, including Whole Foods, have agreed to do this. There is no dispute. The Florida tomato industry has also agreed to participate. For more, please see:

I wanna raise too...

So basically you’re saying that the harvesters don’t want 50 cents a bucket… they want 82 cents per bucket. They want a 64% raise from Publix… and they have already received a 64% raise from 9 other companies (including Whole Foods)??? Using Yullana’s assertion of picking 2 tons daily (125 buckets)… the harvesters are asking for a salary of over $100 a day!!! By-the-way… Whole Foods tomatoes cost over 20 cents per pound more than Publix tomatoes. So that penny per pound increase is being passed on to the customer... with interest.

Actually, no.

What a tool... This is my last response because really it's not worth it. Farmworkers will only see the significant raise you speak of if *all* of the corporations that buy tomatoes take responsibility and pay into the system. Since supermarket chains buy about half of the tomatoes from Florida, the raise so far is relatively paltry. And again, I suggest you *read* - even if farmworkers were to be paid 82 cents per bucket, that's still about 20 cents per bucket LESS than what they would be paid today if the 1980 piecrate had simply kept up with inflation. And for the record, asshat, not a single corporation has had to pass the cost of the extra penny-per-pound on to their consumers. In the words of a Whole Foods executive, "The impact of the penny per pound is a minimal addition to our purchase... We have not seen a noticeable impact on the consumer.” ( Farmworkers' artificially low wages -- made and maintained so low by the concentration of power at the top of the food system in the form of the Publix's and Walmarts and McDonalds of the world -- has subsidized the profits of retail food corporations for decades. The farmworkers aren't really asking for a raise; they're asking for a bit back of what has been stolen from them for so long.

If they're not happy they can quit

If they're not happy with what they're making, they can quit. it's a free country, liberal.


I wish I had time to take a 200 mile bike ride. These people obviously have to much time on their hands.

Need a boiler punch???

A “tool”??? Tools are good and useful… where as a “putz” is just that… a putz!!! Dude… I didn’t buy my car from the UAW. I bought it from the dealer… who bought it from the manufacturer… who paid the UAW to build it. Likewise I buy my tomatoes from the dealer (Publix)… who bought the tomatoes from the growers… who paid the CIW harvesters to pick them. Why aren’t the GROWERS paying the extra penny per pound??? The pickers work for THEM!!! Are you also referring to the 1980 piecrate rate that was established during the Carter economic boom (crash bang)??? And I love this… you’ll “believe” what an executive of a major corporation will say about “this”… but… you won’t believe what any other executive from any other major corporation will say about anything else!!! NOTHING has been “stolen” from the farmworkers that hasn’t been “stolen” from everyone else… legally!!! If you don’t like it… change the laws. By-the-way… what the hell’s an “asshat”… a sombrero worn by a burro pulling el carrito??? Jeez… the new political mascot for the Marxist Democrats!!! The Asshat Democrats vs. the Teabag Republicans vs. the Ronpaulian Libertarians… find a “Born Again Pagan” to moderate and they can have a debate!!!

let'em rot

The pickers should go home and let the crops rot in the field and all you people who want them to work under conditions that you think are so great can go slop around in the rot and find yourself a tomato or whatever it is you're looking for.

Sounds Good to ME

If they're not happy they can quit. Stop stompin' around and being ungrateful and making demands. You're lucky someone gave you a job in the first place!

the people that high er the pickers should pay them a fair wage not publix how have not been doing this for years