They earned it, the old-fashioned way. Holly Burkhalter, in the Washington Post:
Since 1997, the Justice Department has prosecuted seven cases of slavery in the Florida agricultural industry — four involving tomato harvesters — freeing more than 1,000 men and women. The stories are a catalogue of horrors: abductions, pistol whippings, confinement at gunpoint, debt bondage and starvation wages.
Thankfully, those enslaved workers may be among the last found in Florida’s tomato fields. Today, virtually all Florida tomato growers have joined the Fair Food Program, which includes a code of conduct outlawing debt bondage and requiring humane conditions of labor and a more livable wage. Shade stations, toilets and drinking water are appearing in the fields, and educators are spreading word about the code to the harvesters.
This miracle didn’t come about overnight. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), an organization of migrant workers based in Immokalee, Fla., has strived for 19 years to upgrade working conditions and eradicate slavery in the state’s tomato industry. Pressure on growers, whose profit margins have shrunk over that period, was only marginally successful; growers feared that pay increases raising the price of tomatoes would drive buyers to Mexico or other places for cheaper produce. But when the coalition changed tactics and demanded that tomato buyers join the Fair Food Program, reforms came thick and fast. Profitable and image-conscious retailers, pressed by consumers and civil society groups, saw the market and publicity benefits of ethical buying practices.
Over the past seven years, the food service industry and fast food restaurants have come on board, promising to purchase tomatoes only from growers who agree to comply with the code of conduct. What’s more, the buyers pledged to pay a penny-a-pound premium for every box of tomatoes they purchased from participating growers, who pass on the increase to their workers…
And a reminder from commentor JGabriel:
As I seem to do every May Day and Labor Day, I will remind everyone that:
Haymarket Square : USA :: Tiananmen Square : China
Each year on May Day, the rest of the world celebrates labor by commemorating the deaths of workers in the Haymarket Massacre, a peaceful 1886 pro-labor rally that was bombed.
And each year on Labor Day, we in the US celebrate Labor by forgetting Haymarket Square, as was intended. When Labor Day was instituted, in the wake of the 1894 Pullman Strike , our corporate leeches leaders didn’t want us using the day to remember the Haymarket Massacre or to communicate with fellow workers in the rest of the world. So the first Monday in September was set aside for Labor Day, rather than the May Day the rest of the world celebrates.
And it worked. Like the Chinese who have forgotten or never learned of the Tiananmen Massacre, few of us in America remember the Haymarket Massacre. In a day set aside to remember labor, we shop.
So. When you’re celebrating Labor Day today, piss off the spirits and magnates of capitalism: Remember Haymarket Square. Teach your children.