Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tomato pickers need a raise

Sure we all need a raise, but even in this miserable economy, most of us can remember getting one. Not so, for these essential workers in Florida.

Florida tomato pickers earn 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, and their wages haven't increased in 30 years.

These farm workers only want one more cent for each pound they pick, but they can't get it without pressure from the big buyers in the tomato world. They are asking people to push the supermarkets -- Trader Joe's, Kroger, Publix, Giant, and Stop & Shop -- to let all the layers of labor contractors and subcontractors know that tomato workers need a raise.

Consumers can add their voices at this website.

Once upon a time, a long time ago now, a Democratic President responded to economic distress by pushing through the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA legalized the efforts of workers to organize themselves in unions to level the playing field when dealing with powerful employers. But progressives of that era (1935), understood that they had to sacrifice the perfect to achieve the good. So they went along with leaving very poor, often foreign-born, usually Black and brown, farm workers and domestic workers, out of the new legal framework. They created a class of "excluded workers" who are largely unprotected from employer abuses. Such workers have only such protections as the states provide -- EVEN NOW.

The opportunities to organize guaranteed by the NRLA to other workers are almost completely eroded today (Republicans keep chipping away ...) and excluded workers still have to appeal to consumers to win a just small improvements.

We can help. Click the link.

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