30 November 2007

Have it your way, fuck workers over

Dear Reggie Brown, VP, Florida Tomato Growers Exchange,

Tighten up, you narrow minded asshole. The backstory: In 2005, a variety of coalitions united to improve labor rights for thousands of Floridian and Californian migrant workers that for years had labored under multiple exploitative conditions, including working 10 hour days without bathroom breaks, receiving less than the minimum wage, rampant sexual abuse, etc.

To save its image with the American consumer, Taco Bell and McDonalds caved to consumer pressure to address working conditions over which they had control and agreed to pay one penny extra per pound of tomatoes. This represented a pittance in the overall cost structure of the companies. In terms of a cost of living adjustment for the small percentage of migrant workers who received the wage adjustment (and the amount they are able to reinvest in their local economies, Reggie), this amounted to a laughable raise, but it was something. Now these hard won demands are at risk because, of all things, the corporate "powerhouse" Burger King's refusal to pay the extra penny per pound.

Brown, who effectively represents a component of Big Agro, and emboldened by the King's idiotic stand, equates anyone who opposes Burger King's position as un-American because of the nationality of many workers. Dammit Reggie, is there any charge that has held less water in recent history as something being un-American? If screwing immigrants that provide the labor for the employers you represent is American, then count this Eagle Scout out the next time you say the pledge of corporate allegiance. Do the massive agro subsidies that make Latin American farm products wholly price uncompetitive, forcing mass immigration to los EEUU, constitute an "American values" set of policies? Just how little are we willing to pay for shit food that arrives in paper wrappers from the backs of exploited labor?

Florida grows over 80% of the tomatoes we eat between Thanksgiving and New Years. TUR readers, perhaps a perfect way to say thanks to the workers that will ultimately get screwed by corporate greed and anti-immigrant policy is to resist the urge to have it your way. I know few of us patronize fast food joints anymore, but any little reduction helps. PS> if you think isolationist immigration policies are good for the American economy, you're not Bill Gates.

Also, you can send Reggie an email at reggie.brown@floridatomatogrowers.org


Pepper said...

Take that, you corporate hamburglars!

mandy said...

I'm glad my purely visceral instinct not to eat fast food is right in line with all the overwhelming evidence not to do so as well. Thanks for the reminder.

Won't ever enter a BK again said...

The NYT piece makes the point that, while the BK claims that having an interest in how the migrant workers are treated is "unAmerican," it apparently sets standards for how the slaughterhouses it contracts with treat livestock. In other words, BK treats animals (which they actually cook) better than it treats human beings doing backbreaking work to provide the cool, refreshing garnishes for those grissly meat treats between two slices of stale bread. FU, BK. FU, indeed.

pendergast said...

but corporate hamburgers are so tasty

Pete said...

Who the hell eats at the King anyway? The reason they don't want to pay $0.01/lb for tomatoes probably has to do with the fact that they have been steadily losing market share for the last decade or so. Go Wendy's!

Matthew said...

Pete, that's the problem with capitalism: poor people eat at Burger King, so if you do improve the lot of workers, you risk raising the price of the capital (food). Exploitation is built into this, we can afford to exit this system of injustice (although its fucking hard to shop for anything anymore that isn't made in some dark factory in China), but poor people cannot.