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Miami activists take action against Burger King

Demand farmworker raises

The first of summer actions against Burger King took place in South Florida on July 11. The aim is to force the burger giant to negotiate with the Coalition of Immokalee workers.

The CIW is a group of central Florida farmworkers seeking a one penny per pound increase in the tomatoes purchased by Burger King from suppliers. The workers are also demanding better working conditions.

The CIW has been requesting this increase for the past two years.

The protests and actions were organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Student Farmworker Alliance and the ANSWER Coalition-Florida (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).

The largest protest took place in downtown Miami on Biscayne Boulevard on the corner of 17th Street. Steve Grover, Burger King vice president, sat in the restaurant window watching the protest.

"The farmworkers have been paid the same wages for the past 20 years and that's only 40 to 45 cents per bucket of tomatoes," said CIW founder Lucas Benitez.

Tomato pickers need to gather 2,000 tomatoes a day just to take home $50, according to Benitez, a former central Florida tomato picker.

Burger Kings throughout South Florida apparently were alerted to the actions.

After activists delivered a letter to a Burger King manager with the tomato picker’s demands on Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, he promptly called the police—even though the activists were on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

"The police told us that if we returned to the location we would be arrested and our vehicles towed," said William Montes, an ANSWER activist. "We plan on leafleting here at lunch time for the rest of the week."

Activists blanketed the neighborhood with the letter to the manager.

At a Hollywood, Fla. Burger King, the manager was waiting at the doorway to receive the letter with CIW’s demands.

ANSWER student activists are organizing two public forums on the tomato pickers’ struggle at South Florida universities. Upcoming actions are being planned that lead up to a major protest at the Burger King International Headquarters located in Miami on Aug. 31.

Call 954-707-0155 for more information.

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