Friday, April 25, 2014

Good News for Migrant Workers

It's Florida, not Maryland, but hey: it's nice to have a success story to report on. For the past few years, tomato pickers in Florida have been agitating for large corporations to pay a little extra- a penny per pound of tomatoes- to ensure better conditions for the migrant workers who pick there. After getting a few large corporations to sign on, they finally landed a real whopper (more of a whopper than Burger King, which had already signed on): Walmart is in. The corporations buying the tomatoes are spending a total of about $4 million more per year, and a lot of that is going to cover costs such as providing tents where growers can get out of the sun, Spanish-speaking telephone hotlines over which workers can report sexual harassment, and wages for the time pickers spend waiting. Much of the rest is going to higher wages for the pickers.

Since I just finished reading your Hands of Harvest essays, I've got Maryland's migrant workers on the mind. One step toward getting the crab pickers more money might be to get buyers paying a premium for Maryland crabs. That's a start, not a complete solution, because then someone needs to oversee implementation of worker safety, the phone hotline, etc., but it might help!

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