Dozens of farm workers fast, protest at Publix heaquarters planned for six days

12:36 AM, Mar 6, 2012   |    comments
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Dozens of farm workers and their supporters are protesting in front of the Publix headquarters.

LAKELAND, Fla. - Dozens of farm workers and their supporters are protesting in front of the Publix headquarters. Not only are they holding up signs, but many are also fasting, drinking only water, for six days.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their supporters are trying to get the grocery giant to sign their Fair Food Agreement, which a number of fast food companies and grocery stores are already a part of. Under that, Publix would pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes harvested.

"If Publix were to pay the penny, it would nearly double farm workers' pay for the tomatoes that go to their stores, because you get an additional 32 cents on top of the 50 cents we're paid for every bucket," said farm worker Leonel Perez.

Officials with Publix said the issue is a labor dispute and they are not involved. As retailers, they added the company does not set or negotiate the price.

"We are more than willing to pay a penny more per pound of whatever the industry price is that they charge us for the goods, but we're simply saying put it in the price," said Publix spokesperson Shannon Patten.

The CIW has been after Publix to sign on for about three years. The protest and fast ends Saturday with a 3-mile procession to the Publix headquarters along with a ceremony.

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