Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tomato Picker Justice

Migrant tomato pickers last week asked Burger King to pay one cent more per pound for their tomatoes in order to improve the lot of the workers. Burger King said it could not be sure the extra money would get to the workers. One suspects that if they wanted to, smart Burger King’s execs could figure out a way. I was surprised in reading comments on this story in the Naples News how many people begrudged paying the pickers more. They often said that the workers were mostly illegals and if they don’t like their pay, they can go home. So much for justice!
The workers rallied at the offices of Goldman Sachs in Miami. Goldman is a major shareholder of BK. The workers noted the irony of their pay compared to the millions about to be distributed as bonuses to Goldman’s managers. Did the clever work of any of these ever put food on our tables?


Tracy said...

What proportion of corporate profits should benefit the company management and shareholders and what proportion should benefit the workers? Exactly the same question is in focus in this week's Economist article about Japanese corporate structure. Given the recent minimum wage hike, perhaps we are in a time when the workers can demand a greater share. On the other hand, with the recent tightening of credit, the shareholders may be in a position to demand more for their infusion of capital. How do you think that these forces will play out?

Allan Schmid said...

If present trends persist, it would be hard to bet on workers whose real incomes have not increased for some time. What do you think?

Tracy said...

Given the current political climate, I would expect a shift to providing more for the working class. Whether this would amount to a substantial increase in real income over the long term is doubtful, given the incentive that still exists to shift less specialized production overseas.