Picketers protest outside Kroger shareholder meeting

Rally for fair wage by tomato pickers

CINCINNATI - Members of Ohio Fair Food and the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center rallied outside Cincinnati's Music Hall on Thursday.

The rally's intent was to bring to light the conditions facing Florida farm workers. Protesters chanted, "one more penny per pound," as shareholders and executives entered the annual Kroger shareholder meeting at Music Hall.

Picketers want Kroger to join 10 other major food retailers-including Subway, McDonald's, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to improve the wages and conditions of the farm workers who pick tomatoes for the Kroger company.

According to Ohio Fair Food, most tomato pickers are paid just 50 cents per 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick. At that rate, a worker must pick 2.25 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage for a typical 10-hour day in the fields.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program was formed to require retailers to have more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers. They also only buy from growers who meet these high standards of the program. Kroger does not currently participate in the Fair Food program, said Gerardo, a migrant worker from Florida attended the rally.

If Kroger were to enter into the Fair Food Program, any cost would be absorbed by Kroger and not passed on to the consumer, according to Gerardo.

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