Yet another reason to avoid fast-food restaurants, particularly Burger King:
In 2005, Florida tomato pickers gained their first significant pay raise since the late 1970s when Taco Bell ended a consumer boycott by agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for its tomatoes, with the extra cent going directly to the farm workers. Last April, McDonaldâ€™s agreed to a similar arrangement, increasing the wages of its tomato pickers to about 77 cents per bucket. But Burger King, whose headquarters are in Florida, has adamantly refused to pay the extra penny â€” and its refusal has encouraged tomato growers to cancel the deals already struck with Taco Bell and McDonaldâ€™s.
This month the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, representing 90 percent of the stateâ€™s growers, announced that it will not allow any of its members to collect the extra penny for farm workers. Reggie Brown, the executive vice president of the group, described the surcharge for poor migrants as â€œpretty much near un-American.â€
Now the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange has threatened a fine of $100,000 for any grower who accepts an extra penny per pound for migrant wages. The organization claims that such a surcharge would violate â€œfederal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering.â€ It has not explained how that extra penny would break those laws; nor has it explained why other surcharges routinely imposed by the growers (for things like higher fuel costs) are perfectly legal.
What’s ironic is that while Burger King refuses to take a stand in support of farm workers, it been relatively vocal on better treatment for chickens and pigs. Until they change their mind, Burger King is off my list, as are Florida tomatoes.