Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Florida Tomato Mafia Crushes Labor With Bio-Warfare
The battle to keep the "ugly tomato" UglyRipe, off the market by the Florida Tomato Mafia (aka "Comittee") was a long, hard-fought battle but the growers of this heirloom tomato won the battle to get it shipped to customers nationwide.
More recently, more alarming news came from the tomato fields of Florida: slavery. Workers are held in "involuntary servitude" through threats and actual violence against them and their families and kept in a system of "perpetually accruing debt," in which they are overcharged for housing, food, water and transportation, said Collier County Detective Charlie Frost testified before the Democratic members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee.
Mary Bauer, director of the Immigrant Justice Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said there is "rampant abuse" of state and federal wage and hour laws in the payment of farm workers and little enforcement. Growers representative, Reginald L. Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, defends the employment practices, arguing that "if workers were being exploited they would not return voluntarily year after year to work in Florida's tomato fields" and claim that the average worker makes fourteen dollars an hour, a highly disputed figure.
Perhaps the most bizarre finding was the refusal of growers to honor an agreement between workers and fast food chains for a a penny a pound extra. Yes, for each pound these 'slaves' picked and toted they were to get a mere penny extra from fast food companies but the growers refused to pay the workers this wage.
Sadly, no one will be buying tomatoes now due to a salmonella outbreak. Well, thats one way to maintain slavery, starve the opposition to death.
Much thanks to stfucupcake for edit and re-write