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Fighting for a higher tomato value

A tomato farmer picks the ripest fruit

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Today in Florida, a thousand migrant farm workers will march nine miles to the doorstep of Burger King's headquarters in Miami. They're demanding a raise: a penny per pound of the tomatoes they harvest. It doesn't sound like much, but Burger King is still putting up a fight. From our America's Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech reports.


Dan Grech: A workers' coalition in Immokalee, Florida, says its tomato pickers are among the lowest paid of U.S. farm workers. They haven't seen a pay raise in nearly 30 years.

Marc Rodrigues is with the Student Farm Worker Alliance:

Marc Rodrigues: "We're talking about workers who are paid about 40 cents for every 32-pound bucket full of tomatoes. So in effect, one more penny per pound doubles that rate.

The wage demand amounts to a total of just $300,00 a year. McDonalds and Yum Brands, owner of Taco Bell, both agreed to the increase.

Burger King, however, has held out for two years. It issued this statement, read by spokesman Keva Silversmith:

Keva Silversmith: Our substantive offers of strict enforcement, charitable contributions and worker retraining remain on the table as a meaningful starting point for addressing conditions facing the Florida farm workers.

Today's march begins at the downtown Miami offices of Goldman Sachs private-equity fund, a partial owner of Burger King.

In Miami, I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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