Fort Myers News-Press, Nov 16, 95.
Pickers Deserve More
Ordinarily, we would not consider labor disputes between private employers and their workers to be fodder for editorial commentary, but the issue that's risen in Immokalee over wages for vegetable pickers stirs the blood.
It seems Pacific Land Co., which grows vegetables south of Immokalee, but its base wage from $4.25 an hour to $3.85. In addition to that, pickers get an extra dime for each bucket they fill with produce.
The company says no picker will wind up making less than $4.25, the guaranteed minimum wage. That makes the company OK with the law, but it still means workers, already receiving starvation wages, took a cut.
This has resulted in picketing and demands by union organizers for an even higher pay rate.
We don't know the economics of growing and marketing vegetables, which is why we hesitate to stick our newspaper nose into a private fuss.
But we do know the economics of raising and feeding a family, buying gas and paying rent. And you can't do a lot of that on $3.85 an hour- or even $4.25 an hour.
We also have some ideas of what it's like to work in the fields, under hot sun, in a foreign country that's only reluctantly friendly to migrant workers. So we sympathize with these pickers and hope the company can find a way to be more generous to them.