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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Students lead “Farmworker Justice March”

On Saturday night, about 30 students and members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) marched from the UC Davis Domes to University Mall’s Trader Joe’s where they picketed outside and delivered a letter to the manager asking the store to sign on to the fair food agreement.

Although the manager of the local store could not have signed the agreement, Kase Wheatley, a junior sustainable agriculture and food systems major and organizer of the Flatland Food Collective, said the purpose of the protest was not to get the manager to sign the letter, but was meant to put pressure on higher up management. The manager referenced a press release that called the letter “overreaching, ambiguous and improper.”

The agreement asked the store to pay one penny more per pound for tomatoes purchased from Florida to help improve wages for farm workers.

“We have no problem paying the “penny a pound” and have been actually doing so for some time now. Additionally, the wholesalers [we purchase from] are willing to provide reasonable “audit” rights to the CIW or their agents to verify the pass through for all of their purchases. Our wholesalers have told us they are willing to sign an agreement with CIW that includes a pass through of the “penny per pound” and reasonable audit rights to provide a basis for verification of such pass through,” a Trader Joe’s press release stated.

CIW is a farm worker organization headquartered in Florida, which seeks to promote modern working conditions for farm workers and fair treatment in accordance with national and international labor standards.

“We are part of a national campaign to change conditions,” Liz Fitzgerald, a member of CIW, UC Davis alumna and organizer of the Davis protest said. “We chose Davis as one of the protest spots because Davis has a history of being a place where sustainable agriculture and social justice thrive.”

“The agreement was not asking a lot,” Wheatley said. “The fact that the penny doubles the workers’ wages says a lot about their wages.”

A similar protest occurred in White Plains, NY on the same day.

– Angela Swartz


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