retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Lakeland Ledger reports that Publix Super Markets continues to feel pressure from protesters who want the retailer to spend an extra penny per pound for tomatoes it buys and not to do business with suppliers that they say are abusing and underpaying workers.

Yesterday, at the climax of a three-day series of marches and protests, “The line of protesting marchers stretched for several city blocks, halting traffic along South Florida Avenue for a brief time,” the Ledger writes. “Lakeland police officers escorted the group for safety.

“The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has said it wants Lakeland-based Publix and other food retailers to pay an additional penny per pound for tomatoes from Florida and to break ties with suppliers who abuse workers.
“Publix officials said Sunday that if Florida's tomato workers want higher wages, they need to talk to the suppliers.”
KC's View:
These protests have been ongoing for more than six months, and neither side appears as if they are willing to budge. That’s a shame.

When we first reported on this conflict back in November, I wrote that while I’m not ready to pass judgment on the CIW complaint, as a consumer I actually believe that it is well within the purview of a retailer to take sides in such cases. If the CIW is correct in its assertions, then Publix should stand up and be on the side of the farmworkers. If the CIW is not, then Publix should say so and why. As a consumer, I want to know where my retailer stands on such issues. I do not think I am alone on this.