Thursday, November 29, 2007

DEFINING "PRETTY MUCH NEAR UN-AMERICAN" IN FLORIDA

November 29, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

Penny Foolish



THE migrant farm workers who harvest tomatoes in South Florida have one of the nation’s most backbreaking jobs. For 10 to 12 hours a day, they pick tomatoes by hand, earning a piece-rate of about 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket. During a typical day each migrant picks, carries and unloads two tons of tomatoes. For their efforts, this holiday season many of them are about to get a 40 percent pay cut.
. . . In 2005, Florida tomato pickers gained their first significant pay raise since the late 1970s when Taco Bell ended a consumer boycott by agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for its tomatoes, with the extra cent going directly to the farm workers. Last April, McDonald’s agreed to a similar arrangement, increasing the wages of its tomato pickers to about 77 cents per bucket. But Burger King, whose headquarters are in Florida, has adamantly refused to pay the extra penny — and its refusal has encouraged tomato growers to cancel the deals already struck with Taco Bell and McDonald’s.
This month the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, representing 90 percent of the state’s growers, announced that it will not allow any of its members to collect the extra penny for farm workers. Reggie Brown, the executive vice president of the group, described the surcharge for poor migrants as “pretty much near un-American.”
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Well they operate by different principles in Florida. The 70 years or so of infiltration by retired Jewish liberals from the north has done little to quash the reddest of red necks--those who would take 40% of a decades overdue raise to the poorest of the poor, even though it cost them not a penny.
Literally not a penny.
Scarlet-necked Reggie Brown ought to be run off the grounds of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, his head in a 32 pound bucket. And the reason he deserves to be bounced is that Ol' Reg gave away a wage increase that didn't cost the industry anything. Get this for a laugh on the way to the country club:
Citing concerns over federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering, board members of the Exchange (Tony DiMare, David Neill, Ed English and Bob Spencer) have opted not to participate in any such arrangements.
Antitrust, labor and racketeering laws are usually used against those cheating laborers, fellas, not giving them a penny a pound raise.
It would be interesting to see Disney World get into this at their food sites. Oops, I forgot--Walt was never much of a defender of the little guy either. Probably why he built in Florida . . .
. . . Disney World and the State of Florida both being Mickey-Mouse outfits.

* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Labor and Management, check out Opinion-Columns.com