Burger King Finally Makes A Deal With The Tomato Pickers

After repeatedly saying they would never agree to pay more for tomatoes in order to help improve the wages of tomato pickers, Burger King has apparently reached a deal to pay 1.5 cents more per pound.

The AP says:

An aide to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders who held a hearing on the case announced the deal Friday. The aide, Michael Briggs, said the two sides planned to announce the deal later today.

Briggs says the Miami-based fast-food chain will pay 1.5 cents more per pound of tomatoes it buys from Florida growers, with the money passed to the workers.

He says the farmworker’s group known as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers says that would roughly double what workers earn while picking.

McDonald’s and Yum! brands have similar deals in place.

Burger King, Fla. tomato workers in wage deal [BusinessWeek]
(Photo: MortonFox )

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  1. arcman001 says:

    These scumbags at BK held out for too long on an issue that would very marginally impact their bottom line, and that all the other fast food companies had been on board with for some time. Let’s just hope BK doesn’t hope for a parade in their name for grudgingly relenting to what the rest of the industry has seen as the right thing to do for some time now.

  2. reiyaku says:

    that burger looks soggy…

  3. SonicMan says:

    Hold on a sec. 1.5 cents more per pound would DOUBLE there current pay.

    Thats quite an increase in pay. Figure that can not legally make less than the minimum wage currently 6.79 in florida. They will be makin over $13 an hour now.

  4. Up next is Chipotle! About a month or so ago, there was a protest at their headquarters and they finally agreed to actually talk to the workers. McDonalds and Yum! Brands were the first ones to agree to the deal, you think that Chipotle would follow suit. But they have been dragging their feet worse than BK.

    [www.ciw-online.org]

  5. fostina1 says:

    hmmm. arent prices going up for everything for everyone. why is burger king special.

  6. @SonicMan: I’m betting they’re “contract workers” paid by pound of yield. I don’t know if min wage applies in those cases…

  7. Edge23 says:

    While shopping at looking at the low produce prices, I’ve often wondering about farmers/workers and how they are impacted.

    Large companies, like BK and Wal-Mart bully their suppliers.

    I haven’t eaten BK’s whoppers in a while, because their meat is of poor quality.

  8. B says:

    @SonicMan: Honestly, if paying a nickel more for a whopper means the guy picking the tomatoes makes $13 per hour instead of $6.79, to me it’s worth it. And if you think the pickers are overpaid, then you’re free to apply for their job.

  9. homerjay says:

    Thank god you reported on this. I’ve been losing sleep over this for months! :)

  10. andrewe says:

    Let’s see. A 1.5 cent increase doubles the worker’s pay to 3 cents per pound. That would mean that they need to pick 226 pounds per hour in order to earn $6.79.

    That’s after they get their raise.

  11. jasezero says:

    At least this was a better article than the guy who can’t figure out how to use his DVR…

  12. BoomerFive says:

    @CaptainSemantics: Doesn’t McDonalds own chipotle?

  13. Snarkysnake says:

    I’m at a loss to explain what the big cheese at BK was thinking when they tried to tell the pickers to fuck off. Like they are not going to just tack the cost onto what we pay anyway. I can damn sure bet that THEIR salary at the top of BK is not negotiable.If you figure each tomato they use weighs about half a pound,and they get 5 slices out of it, they were arguing over…About 3 cents per burger. Think about it : This company thinks so little of you and it’s suppliers that they would have flushed their product down the drain over THREE FUCKING CENTS.There’s greedy and there’s Burger King greedy.The departed CEO DEMANDED his $1.3 million a year plus his ANNUAL bonus of $2.06 mil when he moved on in ’06.God knows what the current CEO makes.And they would fuck these workers out of 1 1/2 cents a pound to pick tomatoes ?

    Bastards.

  14. sisedi says:

    Why do you people want food to be more expensive? In a time where prices are going up on everything you want to increase the wages for people who are willingly doing work and not paying any taxes on it while we complain for them? I don’t make a bajillion dollars a year like everyone else and my college tuition isn’t exactly free so please, let people take care of themselves, they’re not voiceless infants.

    It looks incredibly pathetic when a bunch of people are protesting about something and the people affected don’t even show up.

  15. amyschiff says:

    @SonicMan: umm yeah like andrewe said, I’m not thinking $13/hour is really that realistic. That would come out to about 7.5 pounds PER MINUTE.

  16. amyschiff says:

    @sisedi: The issue is that if McDonalds can get by with paying their workers more (without any effect on the customers), then why can’t Burger King?

    My guess is that McD’s is doing something more efficiently than BK to help offset the costs. Maybe the price increase will force BK to do something similar. Heck, that might even IMPROVE things for their customers.

  17. BeastMD says:

    After doing a whole lot of research(read 5 seconds on google). I found this at the New York Times.

    “They wanted Burger King to agree to pay pickers a penny more per pound – increasing their wage to 77 cents from 45 cents per 32-pound bucket of tomatoes, up from 40 cents in 1980.”

    “he generally earned $40 to $50 a day for five to seven hours of picking, often taking home $200 to $250 a week. “

  18. sprocket79 says:

    Hooray for the Immokalee tomato pickers! I wrote a paper about their victory over Taco Bell. I almost wish I was still in college so I could write about this one as well. :)

  19. Snarkysnake says:

    @sisedi:

    I agree. When you get out of college, Why don’t you take one of their jobs ? Oh, doesn’t pay enough,you say ? The reason that the @people affected@ are not @showing up@ as you put it, is that they are down in Dade, Monroe,Collier and Palm Beach counties of Florida in the hot sun picking tomatoes for your next hamburger.But since you can’t see them, and can’t ask them how it feels to stoop over all day in 70% humidity so that they can make about 1/5 of what you make,you don’t give a shit.This is America. we should stand for more than what’s good for Burger King.

  20. @BoomerFive: Not anymore, from what I understand. Can someone else help me out with this question? I think McDonalds completely divested from the Chipotle brand.

  21. courtneywoah says:

    @Snarkysnake: Well said!!!

    @sisedi: They are not voiceless infants (although pretty close), they are bottom of the barrel poor with no representation. If you are in college you should have learned by now what happens when a poor minority group tries to better their situation…

  22. @sisedi: That’s funny, because one of the main CIW spokespersons (who is also a farmer) showed up in Denver to protest at the Chipotle HQ. And as Snarkysnake says, they’re a bit busy picking tomatoes to go to a protest.

    The point is that the people are representing themselves, but small organizations can’t do it alone. That’s where the press and larger organizations come in to help. Everyone can’t do things alone. Once you get out of college, you’ll understand that nearly everyone else is as broke as you are.

  23. chewiemeat says:

    Why is it their job to worry about the salaries of the tomato pickers? They buy tomatoes from the source with the best quality for the cheapest price, as it should be.

    Yes, it sounds like a shitty job. There are a lot of shitty jobs. That’s not my problem, but I’m sorry if you have a shitty job. I don’t make $50m/yr grabbing my nuts on the baseball field either, so don’t bitch to me about it.

  24. digitalgimpus says:

    For some reason I have a feeling this is going to be like how the Lottery is really to “support education” and Atlantic City would help revitalize the neighborhood (which 20 years later is still a slum outside of the casinos).

  25. SonicMan says:

    @B: Na, I do not think they are overpaid. But no matter what you are making, Double is a nice raise. Even if you are at the state minimum.

  26. Tmoney02 says:

    @BeastMD:

    Did you or anyone else notice that they ended up with a 50% larger increase than their asking price? They were asking for 1 cent increase and got 1.5 (after lots of holding out by BK). I wonder how they managed that?

  27. thebaron says:

    I really doubt the claim that the workers will get double the money, since I’ll bet the management will take their share as well….

  28. Drowner says:

    Finally! Let the 6 pack burger BEGIN.

  29. Trai_Dep says:

    @sisedi: Why do you people want food to be more expensive?
    A sliver of a buck more expensive. It’s because justice for our most vulnerable sometimes requires the merest wisp of sacrifice. Probably the same reason that most Americans without college-aged kids support higher education (that’s you, by the way). Would it be more “fair” if your tuition doubled tomorrow because we stopped subsidizing universities?
    Try thinking beyond your own selfish interests – we’ll all live better.

  30. humphrmi says:

    @Ash78: You are correct, they are paid by the pound, not by the hour. And while minimum wage laws do apply, most of the pickers are in no position to file complaints. That’s why it’s up to the retailers to do the right thing. The produce wholesalers won’t raise their prices to pay more to their workers.

  31. alicepaul says:

    @chewiemeat, and if the cheapest source used slave labor? It’s not BK’s “job to worry” about tomato picker salaries, but collective bargaining is one of the ways our imperfect capitalist system corrects for the unequal bargaining power between giant corporations and individual unskilled workers.

    Here’s the thing that a few of you seem to be missing: farmworkers are one of the most exploited groups of workers in this country. They don’t just have “shitty jobs,” many of them are actually in forced servitude (the Department of Justice prosecutes cases involving hundreds of trafficked farmworkers every year). Federal minimum wage didn’t even apply to them until the 1970s because the southern economy still hadn’t been weaned off of slavery. They still don’t have overtime pay or the right to unionize under the NLRA. Many of them are here as part of the “guestworker” program, which is just this side of legalized slavery. [www.splcenter.org]

    The reason this story is important is that it represents one tiny stay against the shitstorm that rains on these people every day. This isn’t about hamburgers and tomatoes, it’s about class and race and human rights.

  32. sisedi says:

    @Snarkysnake: You’re absolutely right, I don’t give a shit, do you know why? Because in America you’re fucking free, no matter what anyone tells you. No matter how often the media calls you a victim and wants you to think America sucks as long as a Democrat is not president, I will rise above that. You think I’m sitting here thinking people like those Tomato pickers are trapped? Are they kept in cages, whipped in order to get them moving and picking? No. Are they contracted to pick for the rest of their lives or they will be terminated permanently? Where do you think we are, USSR?

    If you don’t like your job, leave! The employer isn’t retarded, they will get the “hint.” And please don’t tell me so many people can’t quit their job or they will just crawl into some corner and die broke and disheveled. There’s almost always an out and if there isn’t, well you just found 1 in a million people and unfortunately those are so rare they are actually worth helping.

    @courtneywoah: Please tell me what happens to poor minority groups that try to rise up? Did the Irish make nothing of themselves? The Italians? The Jews? (of which I am a part) What happened to the balls of our ancestors who came to this country and strived for something better. It was so much worse even 80 years ago and people pushed on, they didn’t whine, they knew they were somewhere special just as I do now and they felt that in America, hard work and perseverance almost always lead to success and a better life for themselves and their families.

    @CaptainSemantics: Exactly as I said. You’re protesting your wages but you keep working at your job? You’ve become your own scab, that’s ridiculous. A whole lot of talk and no action.

    @Trai_Dep: I’m not going to claim I know a thing about college subsidization other than I personally despise when the Government subsidizes anything meant for commercial distribution because just as a rule of thumb, if it’s a good idea, why does it need to be subsidized? The college system could be reworked and structured more appropriately for variable cost calculation based on classes chosen and therefore be equally affordable but that would require such a shock to the system I’m sure the tenured professors would revolt.

  33. spanky says:

    @CaptainSemantics:

    McDonald’s had various degrees of investment in Chipotle starting in 1997, when the company was about 4 years old, but they divested completely in 2006.

    On the topic, I had no idea that Chipotle had refused to deal with the tomato pickers. I love Chipotle, but I’ll quit them now.

  34. TheRealAbsurdist says:

    @sisedi: Fuck you.

    The 80′s called. They want their “Greed is good” back.

  35. humphrmi says:

    @TheRealAbsurdist: Just a note – based on his post above, sisedi, for better or worse, is a free market advocate, not a “greed is good” advocate. They aren’t the same, and many free market advocates are also extremely philanthropic.

  36. I should get a discount as I always request no tomatoes on my burgers.

    On the serious side, wasn’t part of the original BK et al objection having to do with their concern that the “wage” increase was not really going to be given to the pickers but rather the companies that hired the pickers, and McD agreed to the wage increase after their concerns were aired and the companies agreed to provide proof of the wage increase to the workers?

  37. Trai_Dep says:

    @sisedi: Okay, fine. So if you’re not a total, flaming hypocrite, take your per-quarter tuition. Now triple it. Give the extra $$ to your school, saying, “I say NO to public subsidies. Never!” Or, are you only interested in other people having to pay their full freight?

    And take some English classes. Your bloated prose needs to be beaten with a nail-studded stick. Really: less is more. Yours is well neigh incomprehensible and says, in the end, nothing.
    And (finally), I could find with a couple searches, how much $public your school uses. Instead of wallowing in ignorance, you could do the same. Show some pride, man.

  38. Trai_Dep says:

    @humphrmi: A “free market advocate” who preaches from the confines of a lushly subsidized educational system.
    Is that akin to a draft-dodging President using false pretenses to send over 4,000 real soldiers to their death in Iraq?

  39. humphrmi says:

    @Trai_Dep: No, it’s not.

  40. @sisedi: Not everyone can walk away from their jobs, especially those with a wife and kids, the best they can do is try to fight for higher wages. And to not give a shit about someone else’s fight is pretty dumb considering EVERYTHING people wanted in this country needed to be fought for. This country was built by people who wanted to stick it to the man, anyone doing that presently has my support and should have yours too

  41. PinUp says:

    @sisedi: Yeah, all those tomato pickers should just quit their bitching and take control of their lives; a reasonable person would clearly take a few years off and get a business degree. Let them eat cake!

  42. bipolarmoment says:

    Tomatoes are disgusting–what’s the risk of taking them off the whopper entirely? I know that I’m not the majority with my tomato enmity but I also do not know anyone that enjoys them so much that it affects their burger decision.

  43. Snarkysnake says:

    @sisedi:

    You’re right – we’re not the USSR. Ive been there.And you know what ? The very fact that these other folks are taking up these workers cause is one of the big differences between here and there.In the (old) USSR,everybody kept their mouth shut to injustice as long as they got theirs.We have endured as a society and country because we don’t accept being fucked over for the good of greedy bastards (like Burger King).

    By the way, you equate “freedom” with a job.Tell that to the people that worked in company towns that are damn near indistinguishable from the arrangement that these tomato pickers have. If your life and well being is controlled by a soulless company,you are not truly free.Hard for you to see that in school. you have not been laid off,fucked over,cast aside or shown what the essence of business really is. My only comfort is knowing that you will feel the hard edges of the corporate world in due time.You may sing a different tune then.

    And BTW. I don’t give a great Goddamn who’s in the white house. Which party is up or down ,in or out of power.What I am talking about that you find so hard to grasp is that doing well by the least among us will be doing good for everyone.You seem to think that freedom is great as long as it includes a six figure salary,nice cars and a good life.That’s the kind of “me first” mentality that leads to injustice,prejudice and yeah-old fashioned greed. As we say in the south,you seem to be eat up with it.

    Enjoy your hamburger.