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Wal-Mart Agrees To Fair Food Program In Florida

In a major win for organized labor groups, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay 1 cent more per pound of tomatoes.

tomatoes

Photo: versageek (Flickr)

Florida has received allegations of worker abuse in the tomato industry for over a decade, and the Fair Food Program seeks to protect those workers and give them better wages.

Last week, tomato pickers in Florida saw a victory when Wal-Mart agreed to pay one penny more per pound of tomatoes.

What Is A Penny Worth?

A penny more per pound may not sound like much, but it’s the difference between $50 and $90 a day per worker, for around 30,000 tomato pickers.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) signed on to the Fair Food Program in 2010, a partnership among tomato pickers, farmers and the businesses who buy from them.

The Fair Food Program also contains a code of conduct that ensures safety compliance and fair labor practices, and protects against sexual harassment.

Growers who don’t adhere to the rules will not be allowed to do business with the companies who participate in the program.

Is Change Coming?

Wal-Mart is the most visible of the chains that have signed on to the Fair Food Program, which includes Chipotle, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Yum Brands.

This step to protect tomato workers could have a ripple effect across the industry. Netting $466 billion in revenue last year, the multinational retail corporation has the ability to influence other businesses through its decision-making. This is called the “Wal-Mart effect.”

Wal-Mart says it plans to expand the Fair Food Program to include other vegetable growers.

Read More:

  • A triumph for organized labor: Walmart agrees to pay 1 cent/pound more to tomato pickers (Food Politics)
  • Wal-Mart Joins Initiative on Farmworker Pay in Fla. (ABC News)
  • Wal-Mart to partner with farm labor group (CNN)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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