Farmworkers protest Publix

7:24 PM, Mar 5, 2011   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- Farmworkers and their supporters hit the streets, rallying at Publix grocery stores today for better pay.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers wrapped up a 5-city national tour today with marches and rallies in Tampa as well, calling for the supermarket chain to pay workers a penny more per pound for tomatoes.

Around 30,000 workers pick Florida's $619 million tomato crop.

Publix says it's a dispute between workers and their employers and it's not their place to get involved.

"We have a long history of not intervening in labor disputes. With more than 35,000 different products available at an average store, there are countless opportunities for disputes such as this to take place and we simply can't get involved in every labor dispute," said Publix spokesperson Shannon Patten.

"We're calling on Publix to do the same as the leadership of the fast food and food service industries, signing a code of conduct with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and paying one more penny a pound for tomatoes to elevate farmworkers poverty wages," said Nely Rodriguez. a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Lakeland-based Publix has refused to pay workers an extra penny per pound and recommends instead that the coalition put the increase into the price it charges the industry. The grocery chain says it hopes the workers and their employers are able to resolve the problem.

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