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Burger King Pinches Pennies, Threatens Tomato Growers Over Labor Concessions

Burger King Pinches Pennies, Threatens Tomato Growers Over Labor Concessions

"At a time when there is growing consumer concern about how products are produced, the American people deserve to know the way Burger King and some growers treat their harvesters is a shame and not acceptable in our country."
-Senator Bernie Sanders

January 18, 2008 —

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers represents thousands of the poorest and hardest working members of the American labor force. Unfortunately, more than 90 percent of the migrant workers they represent are undocumented immigrants and the powerful Florida Tomato Growers Exchange would prefer to keep their wages low and their rights non-existant. After the CIW recently reached historic agreements with Yum! Brands and McDonald's — which would have effectively doubled the wages of the tomato pickers in Florida who supply America's largest fast food chains — it appeared that their campaign to improve the lives of migrant workers was picking up momentum. Then they set their sights on Burger King.

Burger King took a hard line with the CIW and refused to follow the lead of McDonald's and Yum! Brands by paying a penny per pound more for its tomatoes — which would then be passed on to the workers. Burger King's stance helped empower the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to bar its members from participating in any previous agreements with the CIW. Any grower that is found to be in violation of the policy faces a $100,000 fine from the FTGE, rendering the CIW's previous hard-fought victories worthless for the time being.

In the past week, Burger King has spread rumors that its considering importing its tomatoes from Mexico in the future, citing the labor dispute as one of the chief reasons. It's may be an empty threat, but it helps the FTGE in its efforts to intimidate both the farmers it represents and the tomato pickers they employ.

How much would it cost Burger King to double the pay of these workers? About $250,000.

At this point, the CIW's movement has reached a critical juncture. Not only is it important for American consumers to boycott Burger King, communicating outrage to the company's corporate headquarters is also important. Twenty-five percent of BK's stock is owned by Goldman Sachs and letting them know that mistreating workers in the BK supply chain will effect their bottom line, could also provide some added pressure to the company.

Burger King's Corporate Offices:
5505 Blue Lagoon Drive
Miami, FL 33126
(305) 378-3000

Goldman Sachs: (212) 902-1000

You can also sign Oxfam's online petition here.


Comment on this article:

blake's picture

Honestly, what is wrong with

Submitted by blake on October 12, 2009 - 22:44.

Honestly, what is wrong with these food companies? Why can't they play it right?


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