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Subway to pay more for Fla. tomatoes

MILFORD Conn. Subway agreed Tuesday to pay an extra penny per pound more for tomatoes grown in Florida after reaching a deal with a farm workers advocacy group.

The deal between Subway and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which is aimed at improving wages and working conditions for Florida farm workers, also calls for a stricter code of conduct for suppliers concerning labor rights. The agreement encourages farm worker participation in the monitoring of growers’ compliance with labor laws and adherence to “zero-tolerance” guidelines for violations, CIW officials said. The group also said Subway has extended those standards of conduct to include its entire supply chain, not just its tomato vendors.

"The Subway chain strongly supports the rights of farm workers and has entered into an agreement with the CIW to pay the additional one cent per pound for tomatoes grown in the Immokalee region of Florida," said Kevin Kane, a company's spokesman.

Subway's agreement with the CIW mirrors similar pacts signed with such quick-service giants as Yum! Brands Inc.McDonald’s Corp. and, most recently, Burger King Corp. The CIW long has advocated that supplemental payments would help improve the lives of Florida tomato pickers.

"With [the agreement with Subway], the four largest restaurant companies in the world have now joined their voices to the growing call for a more modern, more humane agricultural industry in Florida,"  said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. "Now it is time for other fast-food companies and the supermarket industry to follow suit and for the promise of long-overdue labor reform in Florida’s fields contained in these agreements to be made real."

There are more than 30,000 Subway restaurants worldwide, with nearly 22,000 units located throughout the United States.

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