As a conscientious consumer I am disappointed Publix has not come to agreements with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to ensure fair wages and conditions for the farmworkers who pick their tomatoes.
Florida tomato pickers are among this country's most exploited workers: they earn sub-poverty wages, lack most standard rights and benefits and have not received a significant raise in 30 years. At the current rate, one must harvest over 2.5 tons of tomatoes to earn a minimum wage for a 10 hour workday. In extreme cases, workers are held in modern-day slavery rings. In December 2008, four people were sentenced in federal court in a case that involved beating, chaining, and enslaving tomato pickers who worked on some of Florida's major tomato farms.
Yum Brands, McDonald's, Burger King, Whole Foods, Subway, Compass, Aramark, and Sodexo have all reached precident-setting agreements with the CIW to improve wages and enforce a code of conduct for fair conditions in their tomato supply chains, including zero tolerance for modern-day slavery.
As a conscientious consumer and supporter of the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food, I urge Publix to work together wit the CIW to ensure human rights and fair wages for those who harvest the tomatoes sold in their stores.