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Tomatoes of Wrath

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Posted on Sep 26, 2011
Illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

“Publix has a cabal of labor relations, human relations and public relations employees who very frequently descend from corporate headquarters in Lakeland, Fla.—or one of their regional offices—and show up at our demonstrations,” says Rodrigues. “They watch us with or without cameras. They constantly attempt to deflect us: If we attempt to speak to consumers or store managers these people will intercept us and try to guide us away. These people in suits and ties come up to us and refer to us by our first names—as if they know us—in a sort of bizarre, naked attempt at intimidation.”

If you live in a community that has a Whole Foods, which is the only major supermarket chain to sign the agreement, shop there and send a letter to competing supermarkets telling them that you will not return as a customer until they too sign the CIW Fair Food Agreement. Details about planned protests around the country can be found on the CIW website.

Workers in the fields earn about 50 cents for picking a bucket containing 32 pounds of tomatoes. These workers make only $10,000 to $12,000 a year, much of which they send home. The $10,000-$12,000 range, because it includes the higher pay of supervisors, means the real wages of the pickers are usually less than $10,000 a year. Wages have remained stagnant since 1980. A worker must pick 2.25 tons of tomatoes to make minimum wage during one of the grueling 10-hour workdays. This is twice what they had to pick 30 years ago for the same amount of money. Most workers pick about 150 buckets a day. And these workers have been rendered powerless by law. In Florida, collective bargaining is illegal, one of the legacies of Jim Crow practices designed to keep blacks poor and disempowered. Today the ban on collective bargaining serves the same purpose in thwarting the organizing efforts of the some 30,000 Hispanic, Mayan and Haitian agricultural laborers who plant and harvest 30,000 acres of tomatoes.

The CIW, which organized a nationwide boycott in 2001 against Taco Bell, forced several major fast food chains including Yum Brands, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Whole Foods Market, Compass Group, Bon Appétit Management Co., Aramark and Sodexo to sign the agreement, which demands more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers and an increase of a penny per bucket. But if the major supermarkets too do not sign this agreement, growers who verbally, sexually and physically abuse workers will be able to continue selling tomatoes to the supermarkets. This could leave at least half of all the fields without protection, making uniform enforcement of the agreement throughout the fields difficult if not impossible.

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“Supply chains are very opaque and secretive,” says Gerardo Reyes, a farmworker and CIW staff member. “This is one of the reasons a lot of these abuses continue. The corporations can always feign that they did not know the abuses were happening or that they had any responsibility for them as long as there is no transparency or accountability.”

One of the most celebrated modern cases of fieldworker slavery was uncovered in November 2007 after three workers escaped from a box truck in which they had been locked. They and 12 others had been held as slaves for two and a half years. They had to relieve themselves in a corner of the truck at night and pay five dollars if they wanted to bathe with a garden hose. They were routinely beaten. Some were chained to poles at times. During the days they worked on some of the largest farms in Florida. It was the seventh such documented case of slavery in a decade.

“As long as the supermarket industry refuses to sign this agreement it gives the growers an escape,” says Reyes. “We need to bring the pressure of more buyers who will sign the agreement to protect the workers. We have gotten all of the major corporations within the fast food industry and food providers to sign this agreement. Two of the three most important buyers within the industry are on board. But if these supermarkets continue to hold out they can put all the mechanisms we have set in place for control at risk. If Wal-Mart, Trader Joe’s and other supermarkets say the only criteria is buying from those growers who offer the lowest possible price then we will not be able to curb abuses. If the agreement is in place and there is another case of slavery then the growers will be put in a penalty box. If we do not have the ability to impose penalties then there will always be a way for abusive growers to sell. The agreement calls on these corporations to stop buying from growers, for example, that use slave labor. Without the agreement there is no check on these practices.”

“Supermarkets, such as Trader Joe’s, insist they are responsible and fair,” Reyes goes on. “They use their public relations to present themselves as a good corporation. They sell this idea of fairness, this disguise. They use this more sophisticated public relations campaign, one that presents them as a friend of workers, while at the same time locking workers out of the discussion and kicking us out of the room. They want business as usual. They do not want people to question how their profits are created. We have to fight not only them but this sophisticated public relations tactic. We are on the verge of a systemic change, but corporations like Trader Joe’s are using all their power to push us back.”

Members and supporters of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will march from a Trader Joe’s store at 604 W. Huntington Dr. in Monrovia, Calif., to the market chain’s headquarters a mile away, starting at noon Oct. 21. The farmworkers organization is demanding that Trader Joe’s support the human rights of the men and women who harvest tomatoes sold in its stores. For more information, click here, send an email to damara@justharvestusa.org or telephone (510) 725-8752.


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By Irene @ SmilingGardener, October 26, 2011 at 5:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After reading this blog I appreciated my tomatoes more.
I didn’t expect it was this hard before the tomatoes
reach our tables. Thanks you heroic farmers!

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By EmileZ, September 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

Good link:

The Modern Day Slavery Museum explores the history and evolution of modern day forced labor in the agriculture industry and the long legacy of slavery in the food that we eat. The Museum is the latest campaign by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Housed in a box truck, the museum is on a sixty-stop tour across the country. Democracy Now! caught up with the tour in front of Judson Memorial Church in New York City and was given a tour by Julia Perkins, who has been organizing with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida for the last ten years.

For more information, visit their website at http://www.ciw-online.org

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2010/8/11/the_coalition_of_immokalee_workers_tour_across_the_country_with_the_florida_modern_day_slavery_museum

You have done well for calling our attention to this Mr. Hedges!!!

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By Anne Mendelson, September 28, 2011 at 5:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Very telling reporting. But I wish Hedges had steered people to Barry Estabrook’s book “Tomatoland,” which did so much to bring this national disgrace to public attention. Everyone should read it!

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By c.hanna, September 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm Link to this comment

@christian96 “There should be a law passed which
would allow alien farm workers to receive welfare,
food stamps, and medical assistance but knowing the
selfish greedy nature of people in our extant society
I don’t expect to see one passed. I, periodically,
hear people talking about sending aliens back to their own country.  I have to walk away from those
people.”

Well, christian96, if you actually lived in the U.S., which you don’t, you would know that there are many programs for migrant workers and their families. They get food stamps, medical and dental assistance, and when you say “welfare” that is ambiguous. Welfare IS any government food aid and medical aid program, as well as cash assistance. Migrant workers, those here legally and illegally have government programs for their children to collect government grants for education. At this time, Financial aid offices all over the country are so back logged that many natural born citizens of U.S. are starting school without the aid. Much of it caused by the depression, but also, because more illegal immigrants are on the band wagon.

No other country allows this that I’m aware of. Even your country does not.

You and your buddies, like Balkas (who is lying thru his teeth in his comment) are simply here on this board as well as all the other comment boards you jam up, like information clearing house, antiwar, the daily bell, and others I’ve seen you guys at, to subtly and not-so-subtly throw up your anti-American b.s.

Why you do this I don’t know. Maybe you are paid to do it. Maybe you are paid to comment on boards to increase commenting volume, or maybe you are paid by someone else. Or maybe you are simply a group of guys that plays juvenile games.

I do know that you are not honest people. You are hypocritical to the tee and you don’t even know what your are talking about.

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By mebad, September 27, 2011 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The conditions of many workers in the U.S. is sub-human. Look at the history of sweatshops in eras before better work conditions came along. That is the direction the nation goes today. Back to feudal state.

The root of this problem today is due to the breaking down of sovereign borders, because of “universalism”, “diversity”, “globalism”, and NAFTA.

The amazing fact about “Diversity” is, that when you mandate this through laws, you actually start destroying diversity itself. Blending people and cultures kills the separate cultures, causes stress among people and nations, and creates a weird form of uniformity.

All those in favor of breaking down borders, are supporting the very unjustness that this tomato worker is going through.

I support all people by respecting the differences in people. When you want diversity, you get uniformity, which is a form of disrespecting another persons culture and heritage. As much as the Left thinks they are doing good, they are actually causing more harm than some of those whacko rightists they abhor.

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By acudoc, September 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The distribution of wealth haas been taken to the
extreme, and I lay blame solely on the very mechanism
of money creation in the present day world.

Money issued only as debt to a banking cartel will
eventually create neo-feudalism. We desperately need
a stand-alone money that cannot be manipulated by
fractional-reserve bankers or craven, egomaniacal
politicians. 

To that end, kindly read this brilliant and easily
understood essay by someone in the know, who is,
thankfully, not a Ph.D economist.

http://www.plata.com.mx/mplata/articulos/articlesFilt
.asp?fiidarticulo=161

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By Michael Cavlan RN, September 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Bloggity blog, blogging blogs about groovy blogs.

Can ya dig it? Yeah. Those guys.

See you in DC Chris. Oh and as an aside, the Occupation of Wall Street protests are growing. It has now spread to 44 ongoing or planned occupations of centers of money and power. From LA, Chicago, Minneapolis etc etc etc. Some of us will be far too busy doing this to be bloggity blogging groovy words of blogs about the needs of blogs.

Grin- What fun.

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By Evlsmite, September 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Although I am in agreement with regards to the abysmal wages and working conditions at the same time I cannot agree with the plight of illegal immigrants having issues with work/pay rates. It is unfortunate that they are being taken advantage of but at the same time they probably aren’t in this country legally. Light should be shed on the corporations that “employ” these illegals and fines/regulations should be put in place to stop these corporations from utilizing illegal immigrant workers.

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By mrfreeze, September 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

@ Caute - From which of Schopenhauer’s work did you take your quote…...good stuff. Thanks for that.

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By mrfreeze, September 27, 2011 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

@ Gringo - Your intellectually bankrupt and morally heartless words:

“If all the bleeding hearts are so worried about third world invaders then I suggest you renounce your U.S. citizenship and move to Mexico and see if you can’t help them improve their country.”

I think more Americans should renounce their citizenship on the grounds that people like you live here. You know, there was a time when coming to the U.S. “working hard” and trying to get ahead was considered “the American Dream.” Now, of course, things are different. Now, in our “transactional democracy” the only thing that matters is how little we can pay each other and eating well at McDonald’s.

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By christian96, September 27, 2011 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

By m_bonfire—-Thanks for your I-95 story.  If I
could gather enough stories about driving experiences
on I-95 I could put them in a book.

Gringo—-“They are criminal parasites.”  Not only
are you out of touch with reality but you are on the
wrong site.  Go to a conservative right-wing “I don’t
care about anybody but myself” Republican site. I
also suggest consulting with a mental health specialist to attempt to get your cognitions more
in touch with reality.

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By Rixar13, September 27, 2011 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

“It is 6 a.m. in the parking lot outside the La Fiesta supermarket in Immokalee, Fla. Rodrigo Ortiz, a 26-year-old farmworker, waits forlornly in the half light for work in the tomato fields.”

Governor Rick Scott will only roll with big money and votes… grrr

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By sallysense, September 27, 2011 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

all hard-working produce pickers deserve to earn decent pay!...
and today’s dominating thought traditions won’t change that case…
anyone can follow ways of thinking emulating middlemen’s plotting…
but that custom celebrates manufactured mentality and not honest wage!...

...

showing why employee-owned publix stores need to care more about certain related bottom line food-chain workers…

and why trader joe’s neighborhood stores need to be more neighborly to certain related bottom line food-chain laborers…

and why stop & shop’s boast of supporting 1000’s of groups needs to include certain related bottom line food-chain laborers too…

and why kroger’s “sustainability - improving today to protect tomorrow” claim needs to also cover certain related bottom line food-chain workers…

...

the place below is for helping hard-working tomato pickers get the decent pay they deserve…

http://www.ciw-online.org/2010eaction.html

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By Jason Pacifico, September 27, 2011 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

On “Tomatoes of Wrath,” TRUTHDIG needs an article on “labor” and “wage multipliers,” and how we can use “banking multipliers” for increasing wages (i.e. wage muliplies), in this industry, workers, and throughout the United States.

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By George Weber, September 27, 2011 at 8:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We should do what we can to get these supermarkets
to sign the CIW agreement. I have enormous respect for Chris Hedges. He’s a real journalist who is dedicated to the truth. That said, I believe that
it is somewhat short sighted to recommend Whole Foods
as an alternative, simply because it signed the CIW
agreement. John Mackey and Whole Foods is so much
worse on so many levels. Mackey is anti-worker,
anti-union, and publicly came out against ANY KIND
of national health care plan. Whole Foods is the Borg
of supermarkets. It has driven smaller independent
organic markets out of business and aided in the gentrification of working class communities. This is
particularly apparent below 14th Street in Manhattan. If you live in NY or NJ, try FAIRWAY…
they offer decent prices and are a union shop.

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By RayLan, September 27, 2011 at 3:38 am Link to this comment

The Right complains daily about big government - but this is BIG food production - the number of corporations that control our agriculture can be counted on the fingers of one hand - without an equally big government to offset the barbaric practices of so-called free enterprise, what’s left of our civilization will inevitably decline.

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By m_bonfire, September 27, 2011 at 2:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey SoTexGuy, christian96, I have another Daytona Beach driving anecdote. I’m not from there but was visiting a few years back. Going south on I95, if you are in the far right hand lane, you will be shunted onto I4 going to Tampa. The signs were so poorly lit and ambiguous that if you are from out of town you have to quickly move to the left to avoid that exit. I finally saw that I needed to move over one lane to the left; however, to my left was some person in a pickup truck, and when I slowed down in order to move in behind him/her, he/she slowed down to. I sped up to get around him, but he then increased his speed to compensate for mine. So I get forced onto I4, and the next off ramp to turn around is 20 or 30 miles down I4. You cannot even begin to imagine how pissed off I was. I guess Florida is full of very evil drivers. Can’t imagine what I would’ve done if confronted by the bimbo that SoTexGuy mentions. I probably would’ve lunged out of my car and attacked. Visions of crushing windpipe and jugular. That place sucks. I don’t enjoy Christmas day when it’s 86 degrees F out.

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By Gringo, September 27, 2011 at 1:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is just no end to the lies liberals spew.Everyone of the illegal aliens draw foodstamps,welfare,section 8 housing and each and everyone of them are entitled to free medical care courtesey of the U.S. taxpayer.They are criminal parasites not undocumented workers.If all the bleeding hearts are so worried about third world invaders then I suggest you renounce your U.S. citizenship and move to Mexico and see if you can’t help them improve their country.

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By examinator, September 27, 2011 at 1:20 am Link to this comment

I never cease to be amazed how utterly selfish people can be and some are proud of it! God help America!
other than MollyFlannery I wonder what it will take before the majority of people catch up.

It might be understood philosophically but is it something we should simply shrug our shoulders about continuing with our profligate and inhuman ways?

Well according to one poster we should be afraid of them organizing for a liveable wage…..perish the thought that we may have to pay what the tomato is really worth. Isn’t that what Capitalism is all about?

Then there’s the others who say grow your own or by local…..really? and what about all the other food stuffs? What part of the demand exceeds the supply of arable local land don’t you understand?

Meanwhile people not illegal undocumented migrants people are being treated like slaves.

Oh yes why do you think they leave their home lands?
Pushed out by the consequences of drug gangs most likely…but wait who BUYS most of these drugs? oops Americans….
So on one side we have American consumers indirectly forcing these people out… and when in desperation, they land on American doorsteps they are victimised twice, either by exploitation or indifference….No doubt about it America’s a wonderful place.

Perhaps we should force our democracy on them they’ll be so grateful, won’t they? 

Come on folks, think a little less superficially ....that’s what has got us to this par less place.
This is the C21st not C19th haven’t we learned anything yet?

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By Caute, September 27, 2011 at 12:01 am Link to this comment

A man who has read and understood his Schopenhauer
will not be surprised by any of this, for as the Sage
of Frankfurt noted, ‘this world is the battleground
of tormented, agonized beings who devour each other
for survival.’ The ancient Greek noted that the
strong do what they will and the weak suffer what
they must.

What is the record of humanity but a long list of
outrages, hypocrisy and cruelty? It makes a great man
yearn for the bliss of non-existence.

What will be in the future? What has been in the
past. Yes, the dogs bark, the caravan passes on.

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By christian96, September 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment

SoTexGuy—-I’m sorry for your experiences driving
in Florida.  I’ve lived in several states and Florida
drives are the most rude I have encountered.  When
I first moved here two guys in a truck were right
on my bumper.  I stopped my car in the middle of
the road, walked back to their truck, and said,
“If you guys were Christians you would have a little
more patience.”  The boy in his 30’s driving the
truck yelled, “F—- Christians.”  He, then, almost
hit me as he pulled around my parked car and sped
down the highway.  I live close to Rt. 95.  I hate
to drive on it.  Driving on Rt95 is like driving in
hell.  For some reason many of the worst drivers are
females.  At first I thought they were in a hurry to
get something to eat because there are so many fat
people in Florida.  Then, I realized there are many
fat people all over the country.  So that eliminated
“hurrying to eat” theory.

Report this

By christian96, September 26, 2011 at 9:03 pm Link to this comment

SoTexGuy—-I’m sorry for your experiences driving
in Florida.  I’ve lived in several states and Florida
drives are the most rude I have encountered.  When
I first moved here two guys in a truck were right
on my bumper.  I stopped my car in the middle of
the road, walked back to their truck, and said,
“If you guys were Christians you would have a little
more patience.”  The boy in his 30’s driving the
truck yelled, “F—- Christians.”  He, then, almost
hit me as he pulled around my parked car and sped
down the highways.  I live close to Rt. 95.  I hate
to drive on it.  Driving on Rt95 is like driving in
hell.  For some reason many of the worst drivers are
females.  At first I thought they were in a hurry to
get something to eat because there are so many fat
people in Florida.  Then, I realized there are many
fat people all over the country.  So that eliminated
“hurrying to eat” theory.

Report this

By MeHere, September 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

Anything goes in farm work. No laws protecting workers, particularly immigrant
workers. I’ve read some gruesome reports about labor in orange groves and the
companies that bring us that popular orange juice claiming to know nothing about it because they subcontract the farm work. The whole food industry is an abomination, starting with the destruction of soil and then everything else that follows until it gets to the supermarket shelves.

Food consumers have been become incredibly wimpy. Heaven forbid that they
might be faced with grapes that have seeds, fish that have bones, and fruits
that have spots on the skin and don’t look like perfect wax reproductions. I
heard a program on NPR that featured a segment on mangoes. A woman called in
saying that she wanted to eat mangoes and tried to buy them on occasion but that
she was very frustrated because she simply didn’t know how to eat them. It was
hilarious.

There’s nothing like home grown and healthy, locally produced food, but those are not realistic options for everyone.

You wonder though what will happen to those tomato farm workers if the growers refuse to pay higher wages and they can’t sell as much as they do now.

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By jimch, September 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm Link to this comment

I don’t believe much of this article. Likely as not it is exaggerated to gain the sympathy of the readers. Hedges is notorious for inflating just about everything he writes, for effect to be sure. Instead of going through all the trouble to demonstrate at some location, just get some of the Hispanic politicians’ ears and let them do the howling. Goodness knows there are plenty of them available. And if these people are treated so badly, and paid so little, let them quit coming to Florida. If there’s a real demand for labor, the growers will have to pay more, right? You know, Supply and Demand.

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By chuckwagoncharlie, September 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am not familiar with the tomato farmers but did visit a cantalope farm 10 years ago where Mexican migrant workers were employed during harvest. Harvest was for a short period and the workers were paid $6 to $7 an hour. Compared to $5 a day in Mexico the workers were being compensated fairly since their efforts were not full time labor. No SS,Medicare,Medicaid or taxes were taken out of their wages so I was told.
Maybe Mexicans should demand better wages in Mexico and better working conditions as well. This is not all the U.S. citizens fault for these conditions.

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By SoTexGuy, September 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

For ‘Christian96’

When last in Daytona beach I paused to give a bearded man at an intersection a few small bills.. A blonde woman in a BMW convertible leaned on her horn then followed me in traffic until we were side by side.. ‘YOU F*$#)@G Hick’! she screamed at me.. entirely enraged, red in the face, gesticulating.. she tried to
flick the butt of her cigarette in my face.. ‘Don’t you know ‘S*%T!?’ .. stay home in the F^!$*)%g kennel where you were whelped’.. ‘these F&#@^*G faggot bums’ deserve to eat S*&t and die’!!

Otherwise, she seemed like a nice lady..

That’s Florida for you.. land of opportunity and sunshine… and the worst coke-headed nicotine junkie blonde bimbo bigots on earth.

Adios!

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By christian96, September 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

My heart goes out to these farm workers.  I wish I
had some words of wisdom to help in their efforts.
I was raised in a coal mining town in West Virginia
where my father worked 40 years in the mines.
When the miners went on strike trying to obtain better wages and benefits, the United Mine Workers
of America would bring cans of powdered eggs and
peanut butter to the union hall for the miners to
live on. My father was proud and wouldn’t go get the
eggs and peanut butter for days but then to feed his
family he would finally go down to the union hall and
get the food.
These tomato workers don’t have a union to help them
if they decided to strike.  I’d like to think the
churches in their area would help.  Maybe some would
and some wouldn’t. 
I live in Florida now and periodically see a man
standing along the road holding a sign asking for
work or money.  I, periodically, pull over and give
someone a $20 dollar bill and ask them not to spend
it on alcohol.  However, I can’t help everyone asking
for assistance.  There should be a law passed which
would allow alien farm workers to receive welfare,
food stamps, and medical assistance but knowing the
selfish greedy nature of people in our extant society
I don’t expect to see one passed. I, periodically,
hear people talking about sending aliens back to their own country.  I have to walk away from those
people.  I am hot headed and could get into trouble.

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, September 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment

@ Tammy - Quoting you:

“The farms that employ these workers pay these
workers….”

Really? The meager wages made by these workers can hardly be called “pay.”

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By verlosen, September 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

I’d just flashback to Caesar Chavez and The United Farm Workers. And was it not REV. Jessie Jackson that said;
“Farm workers are the last slaves.”
And why do this growers call themselves, Christians,Democrats?
Profiteers is more like it.

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By zonth_zonth, September 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

“He has no job security, no workers’ compensation, no disability insurance, no paid time off, no access to medical care, Social Security, Medicaid or food stamps and no protection from the abusive conditions in the fields.”

Hedges is talking about the undocumented laborer here.  He mine as well be talking about a huge percentage of the middle class (documented) Americans. Seems to me its the Americans who are just over the poverty line with the most difficulty.

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By John Henry, September 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Mr Chris Hedges for reporting on the sad situation in Florida. Also for the
great interview in the park. Working around the edges is working…. you are helping this old worn out trucker understand the royal scam.

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By JDmysticDJ, September 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

By David J. Cyr, September 26 at 8:23 am

“Organizing to get a deflated penny per pound pay increase for day laborers on corporate plantations is a liberal means to maintain slavery on those slave plantations.”


“What’s sold as being ‘tomatoes’ in supermarkets is a Democrat variety. Looks like a tomato, but there’s no tomato inside.”

*************************************************************

Again, you seek to turn this discussion into an anti-Democrat, anti-Liberal diatribe, (Incidentally,  according to Hedges, they’re asking for a penny per 32lb. bucket not a penny per pound.)

Having worked in the citrus harvest in Central Florida I can tell you growers in Florida are not Democrats, nor are the majority of white citizens in rural Florida, nor are the heads of supermarket chains. I can also tell you that you are a counter productive, fanatical, anti-Democrat, anti-Liberal lunatic. You are a “Johnny One Note” who needs to add a few tones to your tune. Your monotone is very similar to “white noise,” nothing but constant static that is there on each and every thread.

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By El_Pinguino, September 26, 2011 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Yep… seems Paul Simon was right when he said *Still a man hears what he wants to hear… and disregards the rest*...

@MollyFlannery I was thinking the same thing. what will the comments be.

ie… are we discussing economics or politics or humanity today…..

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By Michael Cavlan RN, September 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges

See you in DC October 5th, 6th, 7th…....

To the blogging bloggers, furiously typing away with groovy words, reading radical chic rags like The Nation, Mother Jones and other Democrat apologist Pseudo progressive mags, well probably will not see you in DC.

It is much more comfortable with groovy, radical words being furiously blogged and blogged about.
See you soon Mr Hedges. I look forward to talking with you and all the other heroes of the Movement.

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By Sylvia Barksdale, September 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My dad was an itenerate farmer in South Georgia.  He was once put in charge of fields owned by a cousin of his.  The crops consisted of cotton, corn and vegetables that his cousin collected for his table.

I have never known a meaner person than Sam Barksdale.  My recollection sees a man who would ride into the fields on horseback. not hesitating to lash a black youth across the back two and three times if he considered his work not up to par.  I still see the drops of blood on the red earth.

I still see my dad running wildly towards his cousin after he heard a shotgun blast, stopping just short of Sam when he leveled his gun on him.  The following day our meager belongings were pack onto a mule drawn wagon and my dad went in search again of the work he knew.

There is no more valid cause than the one portrayed by Chris Hedges here.  Farm work is one of the most grueling kinds of work.  These workers everywhere deserve the compensation and respect that they deserve.  They earn it.  Their work lines the pockets of landowners and Supermarket owners.  What few dollars they’re paid for work most Americans consider themselves above doing is disgusting and illegal.

I, too, grow my own tomatoes and other vegetables.  I love working with the earth.  It keeps the spirit of my dad alive.

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By RayLan, September 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

The biggness of Agribusiness has always run rough-shod over the individual laborer, whether in the field or in the factory. The factory farmers are treated just as coldly - but then in a food culture that judges everything by appearance - the so-called ‘red’ tomatoes, injected with dye like the so-called red meat - it isn’t surprising. Our image-based culture is controlled entirely by the visual and prefers not to know about the process that gets the food to the produce section.
Big profits can be made when only the aesthetics matter, and consumers live in a state of infantile denial about the cruelty to both human and animals contributors.

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By balkas, September 26, 2011 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

in a meritocratic/supremacist way of life [and imposed over several
millennia on us—often violently—by clero-noble class] there always will be
less-valued people to do dangerous, low paid work, kill people in name of
that bloody imposition or dead jesus, mohammed, and moshe.

yes, i admit, i have finished last in both of my two yrs of schooling; so, i
shld really stop eternally negating the eternal clero-plutocratic ‘truth’ that
people have the right to be for an eternity masters of other people.

now don’t tell me life isn’t a joke! [why i often laugh about what i just said, i
really don’t know. all i know is that love the laugh]
and also that eternal truth is that there ain’t such a truth as an eternal—
only passing and manufactured one[s].
accepting etern verities wld be a joke, tho, if the acceptance of it did not
cause so much misery, hurt, damage to biota, hate, fear,
druggery/drudgery/robbery, murder, etc.

it is a mystery how i, being so uneducated, failed to put even a grain of
trust in dead jesus, mohammed, and moshe, and etern truth! all i know is
that i do not.

and i am not bit ashamed of that. but i am only 80 y o; so, who knows, i still
might change my mind. i thank my goddevil for the courage to say what i
just said. tnx

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By billofwrites, September 26, 2011 at 11:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

gee, laceration…

so sorry the suffering of others “bores” you.

eat cake.

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By Bill Canton, September 26, 2011 at 10:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excuse me while I go out to my local Trader Joe’s and get some Tomato’s…..and let them over ripen so I can THROW them at the next CIW protester I see.

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By Queenie, September 26, 2011 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

I’m with you, Tobysgirl. I grow my own, too.

This year I grew Mortgage Lifter, a heritage tomato that has a wonderful history.(Google it) I had so many that I was able to share with the whole neighborhood. These beauties weigh one or two pounds each! The vines reach 6 feet or more and are very prolific. No artificial fertilizers needed, just plenty of mulch, some extra egg shells for calcium (stops blossom end rot) and some home-made compost to enrich the soil.

And don’t forget to talk to them. Not out loud maybe but thank them in your heart. Plants know.

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By Textynn, September 26, 2011 at 9:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

God bless all your efforts. Everyone should live in decent life and be paid for their work.  I’ll write the stores around here. We don’t have Trader joes but we have Walmart.

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By Larry Silverstein, September 26, 2011 at 9:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am sick & tired of people bitching.

There are only so many of THEM & millions of US. All it
would take is a few of us to die for the cause by
taking out ALL of THEM.

If you want to be screwed ALL your life, DO NOTHING!

If YOU want Fair Play, get rid of the PARASITES!

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By Tobysgirl, September 26, 2011 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

I grow my own tomatoes, but I fully realize that many people will continue to buy them in supermarkets. Industrial farms using migrant labor are not going to go away anytime soon, so it is reasonable to support farmworkers’ rights while advocating that people buy local produce.

And for people such as storkfmny, why don’t we send YOU home? I’m guessing most migrant workers, many of whom are native to this continent, were here long, long, long before you arrived.

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By David J. Cyr, September 26, 2011 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

Organizing to get a deflated penny per pound pay increase for day laborers on corporate plantations is a liberal means to maintain slavery on those slave plantations.

A people dependent upon petrol fertilized food trucked in from thousands of miles away will perish when the last remnants of fossil fuels are gone (sure to happen within a few decades, if we’re not all exterminated earlier by a global war waged to stimulate the economy).

What’s sold as being “tomatoes” in supermarkets is a Democrat variety. Looks like a tomato, but there’s no tomato inside.

People should learn to grow their own real tomatoes themselves, eating them fresh when they can be grown where they live, and eating their own canning/preserved tomatoes and sauces in the off-season.

ALTERNATIVELY: People should buy real wholesome food from local farmer’s markets and (much more importantly) support a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), if they have one nearby — and organize a CSA nearby if they haven’t one available now.

CSAs:

http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Food does not have to come to cities from way far away in this country, nor from some other country.

El South Bronx CSA (fair food for everyone):

http://www.southbronxcsa.org/

America has become a degenerate society because near all of its people have become consumers of everything in quantity, who neither appreciate nor properly value quality in anything.

http://www.chenangogreens.org

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By laceration, September 26, 2011 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

This is just boring old progressive dialectic.  Hedges most often rises above this.  Of course the industrial food production system degrades its laborers, It also degrades it consumers with these flavorless, bland tomatoes, often sauced up with high fructose corn syrup, that are a facsimile of real food that mocks the rich tradition of our culinary history.  If you are all indignant about the plight of these workers and still buy this Supermarket crap you are a hypocrite.  This is one sordid usury scheme where you can easily just drop out of.
1. Grow you own tomatoes
2. Buy tomatoes at your local Farmer’s Market
3. Freeze or can some for the winter
This is the solution.  Don’t count on a progressive regime that will enable these poor serfs to move a couple tiers up the poverty pyramid to come about.  If people do not participate, it’ll disappear.  Of course that won’t happen, but you do not have play a part in this scheme.  Unsustainable energy demands and financial underpinnings make it all destined to crash and burn anyways.

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By prisnersdilema, September 26, 2011 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

So you think yoru different?

It’s only really a question of degree…

Think about this as your, health care diminishes, and the real value of your wages declines, while the cost of everything increases..

Do you think your different…  no it’s only a question of degree.. those that do this to the field workers, are also doing it to you..

Undercutting your ability to survive…and if you think for one instant they would care about starving you, forcing your children into the job market, or sending your job to Mexico, or Indonesia, or China your wrong…

They only want more for them and less for you…. and they have most of everything already..

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By Tammy, September 26, 2011 at 7:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The farms that employ these workers pay these
workers, Not Trader Joes, Publix, or anybody else.
The CIW is trying to bully the farms THROUGH the
supermarkets to pay them more. WHAT PART OF THIS
DOE’S THE CIW AND THE LITTLE MINDED PEOPLE THAT HAVE
JUMPED ON THEIR CAMPAIGN NOT UNDERSTAND. We dont need
more corporate bullies out there.  Again, the FARM
owners pay these workers, not the companies that keep
them in business by being THEIR costumers. Maybe
these companies should get their tomato’s from other
sources, and be done with it. Lets see how the CIW
likes it when 90% of their workers are laid off work
because the farms dont need them anymore. WHO YA
GONNA CALL THEN, GHOSTBUSTERS?????

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By from wRong to Left, September 26, 2011 at 5:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@storkfmny—that’s your response to “fieldworker slavery”?

i think you’re on the wrong site.

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By SoTexGuy, September 26, 2011 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

Good luck CIW with this important initiative..

Yet I think it has been clearly shown that lacking strong regulation and a populace that supports the rules and the larger goals of those rules the market will yield to the lowest common denominator.. In this case those willing to pay more for tomatoes will, others will shop for cheaper non-CIW-approved
tomatoes. All the while the supply chain will work to finagle and cheat a few extra pennies out of that disparity..

This is where a strong and responsible public sector should step in. Minimum working conditions, oversight on safety and chemical exposure, ensuring fair pay.. and shutting down the borders to illegal crossings. The flood of illegal workers across the borders is by itself the biggest threat to better pay and more
for agricultural and service sector employees here.

Adios.

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By MollyFlannery, September 26, 2011 at 4:45 am Link to this comment

While reading this article, I was thinking about the
comments that would follow.  The first one I read from
“storkfmny” was exactly what I was expecting. This is
not about undocumented workers.  This is not about us
vs. them.  This article is about all of us and our
inhumane treatment of our fellow man/woman.  The next
time you eat a tomato you purchased in one of the huge
supermarkets, take a moment and think about how it got
to your table.

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By storkfmny, September 26, 2011 at 4:07 am Link to this comment

Send them all home if they want to complain.

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