At Publix in Ballantyne, Labor Activists Protest Pay and Conditions at Tomato Farms

By Ely Portillo
Published on March 6, 2014 in the Charlotte Observer

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Several dozen workers and labor organizers protested outside Publix’s new store in Ballantyne on Thursday, demanding the grocer join a program designed to improve pay and conditions for tomato farm workers in Florida.

The workers are part of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that has been pressuring Publix for years. The group has a dozen other retailers and food companies signed on to its Fair Food Program, which provides higher pay and stricter safety conditions for farm workers.

Florida-based Publix has said that the issue is a labor dispute between tomato growers and their workers and that the company doesn’t want to intervene.

The coalition is on a 10-day tour of 10 cities designed to increase pressure on Publix, which is expanding aggressively into the Charlotte region.