CHICAGO Burger King Corp. is the next target in a campaign to increase pay and improve working conditions for Florida farm workers, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, or CIW, reportedly announced Friday at a rally near Chicago.
AFlorida-based farm-worker advocacy group, the CIW was in Chicago to celebrate an agreement signed earlier this month with Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's Corp. The chain agreed to pay an additional penny per pound for tomatoes purchased for U.S. restaurants, which would go directly to farm workers. In addition, McDonald's agreed to work with the CIW to develop a new code of conduct for Florida tomato growers supplying the chain as well as including farm workers in monitoring compliance and improving working conditions.
Louisville, Ky.-based YUM! Brands Inc. reached a similar agreement with CIW in 2005 after the group launched a four-year boycott of Taco Bell. Student, religious and labor organizations have joined with CIW in an Alliance for Fair Food that aims to end what has been described as slave-labor conditions on Florida farms, which produce about 90 percent of the nation's winter tomatoes.
Earlier this year, however, Burger King officials said they would not pay the penny-per-pound surcharge, though the company reportedly said tomatoes would not be purchased from suppliers that had violated federal labor laws. The company also offered to send recruiters to Florida to interview workers for restaurant jobs, and to support charities seeking to improve living conditions for farm workers.