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Farmworkers demand living wage

Published Sep 29, 2011 9:47 PM

Leader of Jornaleros Unidos protests at the Brooklyn Trader Joe’s entrance in solidarity with the CIW, Sept. 24.
Photo: Roberto Mercado

“No more slaves! Pay a living wage!” demanded a strong and spirited Brooklyn, N.Y., rally at the entrance of a Trader Joe’s grocery store on Sept. 24. Some protesters wore hats shaped like a tomato. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an internationally recognized Florida farmworkers organization, is demanding that the multibillion dollar grocery chain agree to pay just one penny more per pound directly to the workers who pick the tomatoes that Trader Joe’s buys. While the CIW has agreements with nine of the world’s leading food retailers, including McDonald’s and Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s refuses such a “fair food agreement.”

Protesters explained to Trader Joe’s customers that farmworkers receive subpoverty wages and are subject to rampantly abusive working conditions and bosses, adding up to modern-day slavery in the fields where the tomatoes are harvested. Many who learned this information expressed their new support for the workers.

Members of the Food and Commercial Workers union, Jornaleros Unidos and the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights marched with the CIW.

“Trader Joe’s — shame on you! Farmworkers deserve rights, too!”