Have it Your Way ... or Not

It is certainly good news that Miami-based Burger King announced this week that the company will begin buying eggs and pork from suppliers that don't confine their animals in crates and pens.

PETA has declared a victory, as has the Humane Society of the United States. According to the New York Times:

"While Burger King's initial goals may be modest, food marketing experts and animal welfare advocates said yesterday that the shift would put pressure on other restaurant and food companies to adopt similar practices."

But one question remains: when will Burger King start treating the workers who pick their tomatoes humanely?

Farm workers — some of whom work right here in Florida, just a couple of hours from Miami -- are paid 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes. They make roughly $10,000 a year. Many of those tomatoes end up on those Triple Whoppers with Cheese.

Burger King has refused to pay more for its tomatoes, thus keeping workers' wages low. In February, after farmworker rights groups picketed Burger King and demanded answers, Burger King responded: they offered to train farmworkers to work at Burger King restaurants.

Sheer brilliance. Trade one low paying job for another!

Said Lucas Benitez, of the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers (and a recicpient of the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award for his crusade against human trafficking): "Burger King's plan to eradicate farmworker poverty is so simple as to be almost magical. Send a crack team of Burger King trainers into Immokalee, retrain thousands of farmworkers to be Burger King restaurant employees, and *poof* farmworker poverty disappears..."

"This suggestion might seem comical," Benitez continued, "until you stop to think that Burger King is actually responsible for keeping the workers in poverty through their leveraging of volume purchases to drive down tomato prices and, consequently, tomato pickers' wages." --Tamara Lush


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