The Student Farmworker Alliance protested last week to put pressure on Sodexo, the campus dining service, to support farmworkers’ rights. The alliance is urging Sodexo to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in order to agree on a payment increase.
The alliance is pushing to provide farmworkers with an additional one cent per pound of tomatoes, while they currently make approximately 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket. An agreement will bump up the current amount to roughly 70 cents per bucket.
Sodexo has already agreed to the increase but has not finalized a contract. Once Sodexo examines the feasibility of the increase according to its budget, it should actively work with the coalition to come up with contract terms – and sign it.
The tomatoes purchased under UC Davis Sodexo do not come from Florida. The tomatoes at the UC Davis dining commons come from California and Mexico, while tomatoes used in the ASUCD Coffee House may or may not be from Florida. Until the situation is resolved, Sodexo does not want to purchase Florida tomatoes, said Brenan Connolly, Sodexo general manager of resident dining.
Though the issue is not relevant for our campus, the push for Sodexo to sign the agreement will be stronger if it comes from efforts here.
Sometime in the future, Sodexo may have to make a decision concerning whether or not it should restart its purchase of Florida tomatoes. If it does, they should without a doubt be tomatoes farmed fairly. If Sodexo comes to an agreement, UC Davis won’t have to wonder whether the workers are paid enough money.
Student organizations, such as SFA, should remain in support of farmworker rights. In order to protect farmworker rights countrywide, Sodexo and the CIW are looking to work together to come to an agreement although there has been no new progress.