Monday, October 17, 2011

"Penny Per Pound" Issue Still Dogging Burger King?

What with all the protests in the streets this may be an opportune time to revisit the "penny-per-pound" movement, which had folks demonstrating in front of Burger King corporate headquarters in an effort to get the company to pay migrants workers something closer to a living wage.

Those protests were successful, and to its credit Burger King (and other fast food giants) agreed to up the prices paid for their tomatoes.

So it's all over and good?  Not so fast:
But there was a catch. The growers balked at the deal until last November, meaning the companies had no mechanism for passing on the extra money.

In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, the 16 workers are asking for unspecified wages based on the number of tomatoes they picked that were bought by Burger King ( BKC - news - people ) and Subway.

Their attorney Greg Schell says now that the growers are on board, it should be simple for the chains to provide back pay from 2008, or to explain why they don't owe the money. But he says the companies have refused to discuss the issue. He said he is also planning to file suit against several other fast-food chains.
 Ok, I actually think BK has a point -- how are you going to find these seasonal workers and pay them?
The coalition, which is not connected to the Justice Project, does not support the lawsuit.

The coalition said the companies had put the money in escrow until the growers were willing to participate in the deal. On Thursday, the group provided copies of a 2011 farmworker pay stub to The Associated Press showing larger than normal bonus distributions from McDonald's and Subway it said represented the money accrued in the escrow accounts.

Julia Perkins of the coalition said some current workers have received the escrow funds even if they weren't part of the past harvests, but she said it was unrealistic to try and track down workers from several seasons ago, many of whom have returned to Mexico and other countries.

"This seemed like the fairest way to distribute the money," she said.

Schell insists that if those workers in Mexico want to claim the money, it should be theirs.

Regardless of how this issue pans out, the penny-per-pound movement rolls on.

Their next target:  your friendly neighborhood Publix!


  1. zero comments all day. nobody cares about poor people.

  2. More toe tapping!

  3. Hmm. Tomatoes were left out of BK's old catch phrase, "two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion on a sesame seed bun." Don't know why I remember that.

    There are all sorts of problems for the tomato pickers in SW Florida. The same time I was due with my first child, there were two migrant moms that had children with severe birth defects, presumably from the pesticides on the fields.....

  4. Holly, that slogan was for the McDonald's Big Mac, which is not made with tomatoes or any other ingredients found in nature.

  5. Have you all seen those pictures on the net of a McDonald's meal 6 months old?

    It looks nearly the same as it does on day one. Even the bacteria can't digest it.