Sunday, October 11, 2009

Immokalee Workers Extra Credit

This Friday in class, we received a presentation from another graduate student in the Sociology Department who is doing work on the Immokalee Workers social movement. Immokalee is in Florida, and although it is a very poor region, is not very far from the prosperous town of Naples. The workers, who usually harvest tomatoes and other vegetables, get paid only 45 cents for every thirty two pound bucket of tomatoes. This wage is obviously low, and compared with the rent prices these workers pay is outrageous. Our presenter told us that the workers live in trailers, with abut fifteen people in one living space. In total the trailers cost three thousand dollars a month! As the researcher mentioned, this is more than an apartment in the upper east side of New York. She even commented how a well known professor compared the place to South Africa before the Apartheid, “but much worse”. With these conditions something obviously had to be done. So far, they have made great strides, directly confronting the big companies and asking them to sign contracts that will double the workers’ wages. I was very impressed to hear that already companies like Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut agreed to the demands. I was also very surprised to hear of all the student participation in different parts of the country. Our presenter mentioned campaigns against Taco Bell, such as one done at Notre Dame, that kicked the company off of college campuses. Overall, I thought the presentation was very interesting and informative.

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