Letter writer: Publix should support Fair Food Program

I first discovered Publix grocery stores while visiting Florida for Thanksgiving with my family. I always found the customer service to be outstanding, and the variety and cost of food quite good.

Imagine my dismay when my sister (who has a background training day care providers working with migrant farm workers) told me over Thanksgiving break that Publix refuses to pay an extra penny per pound to provide a bonus for Florida migrant farm workers.

In speaking with the [Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce], I am aware that Publix was given incentives to come to our town. The chamber representative I spoke with was unaware of Publix’s resistance to  the “Fair Food Program.” As a current chamber member, I know the chamber typically does a good job of attracting businesses with values that are compatible with community members.

Is it too late to hold Publix accountable? I would encourage community members to boycott Publix until such time as they join other grocery chains in supporting the “Fair Food Program” as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and most recently, Fresh Market, have done. To see the full list of restaurants and grocery chains and learn more you may go to: fairfoodprogram.org.

— Ian Rudick
Asheville

Editor’s note: When contacted by Xpress, Publix Media and Community Relations Manager Kim Reynolds offered the following response:

We have always believed our food should be brought to market in a fair and sustainable way, and that farmworkers should receive fair wages and be treated with dignity and respect.

The CIW’s Fair Food campaign makes it sound like Publix is unwilling to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes, which is not true. We have publicly and repeatedly offered to pay the extra penny per pound and more. To give workers better wages, we will gladly pay more for tomatoes if our suppliers will put that penny in the price they charge to us.

However, it is not appropriate for Publix to pay another company’s workers directly. At its core, this is a labor dispute. It is the Department of Labor’s role to enforce the laws that protect workers’ rights. If your readers would like to learn more about this they can go to http://corporate.publix.com/about-publix/newsroom/put-it-in-the-price. They can also learn more about our commitment to sustainability at http://sustainability.publix.com/get_into_a_green_routine/get_into_a_green_routine.php.

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