Ocala.com reports on the Rev. Les Singleton and the campaign to help tomato workers have fair wages:
Father Les Singleton spoke Friday morning about pennies as he gripped a plastic bag, faintly emblazoned with the word “Publix,” holding two tomatoes at University Lutheran Church.
“We’re talking pennies. Pennies,” he said as he stood in a circle of people under a shaded walkway. “The Immokalee farmworkers are looking for a penny a pound.”
Singleton, who runs the Episcopal Church of the Mediator in Micanopy, said earning that extra penny per pound lifts the hourly wage of tomato farmers in Immokalee from $7 to $12. Singleton’s father, Irby, worked in Immokalee’s fields in the 1930s.
The letter states: “Publix’s lack of respect for and continued refusal to meet with the workers who harvest the tomatoes you sell is inexplicable.”
Publix considers this issue a labor dispute between employer and employee, and has no place in such conflicts among its suppliers, according to an online media statement.
Its stance is to “put it in the price,” meaning suppliers should raise their prices accordingly in order to increase their employees’ wages. Publix will not pay suppliers’ employees directly, the company said.