The fight to improve wages for Florida's tomato pickers hit the national stage over the past week, as part of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Last Saturday, Vermont Democrat Bernie Sanders' campaign released a five-minute documentary highlighting the struggles – and successes — of tomato pickers in Immokalee, Fla. As Barry Estabrook documented in his 2011 book Tomatoland, these workers faced poverty wages and were subjected to pesticide-laden fields, abusive bosses and slave-like working conditions.
As we've reported, over the past half-decade, conditions have been improving for these workers, thanks to a combination of measures, including a premium of a penny-per-pound that corporate buyers like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods pay to growers.
The video from the Sanders campaign notes that the senator held hearings on the matter back in 2008, before efforts to improve the workers' lot had gained much traction. As the narrator, an unnamed female tomato worker originally from Mexico, says in the video, not many politicians visited Immokalee, but Sanders was there to support their fight.