Industry News | November 5, 2007

Legal Concerns Break Tomato Labor Deals

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So-called "penny-per-pound" deals involving Yum! Brands and McDonald's will not be executed and are now considered moot, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange announced today. Citing concerns over federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor, and racketeering, members of the Exchange have opted not to participate in any such arrangements.

Growers who sold tomatoes to Yum! Brands under the penny-per-pound deal last season will not participate in the penny-per-pound arrangement this year. The McDonald's penny-per pound deal never went into effect.

"Our members have reaffirmed to us that they will not participate in the much-publicized deals that involve our industry's workers due to legal concerns," says Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. "Our industry will continue its strong commitment to develop and implement more impactful, comprehensive solutions that improve the lives of all farm workers and their families," Brown says.

Florida tomato growers operate as socially accountable farm employers as they participate in comprehensive programs that certify employment, health, housing, and safety practices.

According to payroll records required by the government from the 2006-2007 season, Florida tomato harvesters' rates ranged from $10.50 to $14.86, with an average wage of $12.46 per hour. The harvesters earn more than double the current federal minimum wage of $5.85 per hour and nearly double Florida's minimum wage of $6.67 per hour. The farm workers harvest tomatoes an average of 25 to 30 hours per week in addition to other tasks on the farm.

The Florida Tomato Growers Exchange is an agricultural cooperative of Florida tomato growers. To learn more facts about the industry, please visit www.FloridaTomatoGrowers.org.