Immokalee Workers Reach Important Agreement

* Though you’ve probably never been to Immokalee, Florida, you’ve almost certainly enjoyed its produce. Immokalee is the home to a $600 million tomato industry that’s been under fire for the treatment of the men and women who harvest all those tomatoes. Earlier this month the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange reached an agreement to incorporate a penny-per-pound increase in wages for tomato pickers, a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process that will have a positive impact on 90 percent of Florida’s tomato workers. “This is a watershed moment in the history of Florida agriculture,” says Lucas Benitez of the CIW. “With this agreement, the Florida tomato industry — workers and growers alike — is coming together in partnership to turn the page on the conflict and stagnation of the past and instead forge a new and stronger industry.” “Make no mistake, there is still much to be done,” continues Benitez. “This is the beginning, not the end, of a very long journey. But with this agreement, the pieces are now in place for us to get to work on making the Florida tomato industry a model of social accountability for the 21st century.” Another penny per pound may not sound like much, but it translates into a 70 percent increase in wages for pickers, whose pay will rise from $50 per day to $70 per day. That’s still not great, but like Benitez says, it’s a step in the right direction. For more information, go to ciw-online.org.

posted at 08:33 pm
on Wednesday, December 01st, 2010

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