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April 2018, Volume 24, Number 2

Florida, Southeast

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) continues to battle fast-food chain Wendy's, which has not joined the CIW's Fast Food Program. The FFP requires buyers of Florida tomatoes to pay a premium for the tomatoes that they buy, and requires growers to pass this premium on to pickers.

The CIW picketed the Manhattan headquarters of Wendy's owner Trian Partners in March 2018 to protest Wendy's decision to buy Mexican rather than Florida tomatoes. Wendy's says that Mexican tomatoes are of higher quality and preferred by customers; the CIW says that Wendy's switched to Mexican tomatoes to avoid the FFP. Over half of the fresh tomatoes consumed in the US are imported from Mexico.

The CIW is a workers' center, not a union, and is funded largely by foundation grants. Some of the targets of worker center activities want the federal government to reclassify these organizations as unions, which would require them to submit reports on their finances and members to DOL's Office of Labor-Management Standards. According to one count, there are over 260 workers' centers such as the CIW around the US.

Workers' centers, but not unions, may engage in secondary boycotts, as when they urge consumers to avoid Wendy's for its failure to buy Florida tomatoes without having been elected to represent Wendy's employees.

Georgia. Taylor Orchards (3,000 acres) and Lane Southern Orchards (2,000 acres) announced a merger in February 2018, creating one of the largest US peach growers. The combined Lane Southern Orchards also produces pecans.

North Carolina. North Carolina farmer Phillip McLain uses an agency to recruit H2-A workers in South Africa who are employed from February to December each year. McLain says that the H-2A workers are willing to work 12 to 14 hours a day if necessary.