Friday, June 15, 2007

Burger King and fair wages

"Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts." (James 5:4)

Our fast-moving society allows us to be blind to the injustices all around us. We don't realize that the workers who pick the coffee beans for our morning brew, or a the tomatoes for our fast-food burgers, are toiling in near slavery. Who knew that pulling through the drive-through to grab a burger could be such a significant decision?

I received an e-mail from Sojourners today, about Burger King and the wages paid to workers who pick tomatoes for this company. Here are some of the highlights of what they said:

Farm workers who pick tomatoes for Burger King's sandwiches earn 40 to 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has not risen significantly in nearly 30 years. Workers who toil from dawn to dusk must pick two tons of tomatoes to earn $50 in one day.

Worse yet, modern-day slavery has reemerged in Florida's fields; since 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted five slavery rings, freeing more than 1,000 workers. As a major buyer of Florida tomatoes, Burger King's purchasing practices place downward pressure on farm worker wages and put corporate profits before human dignity.

I hope you'll forward the info to others. Ignorance of how our buying habits affect others is no excuse. We have an obligation to be intelligent. And to not eat at Burger King.


Crystal Bakker said...

As long as a worker is not physically forced to work (ie. actual slavery), any wage agreement a worker and an employer come to, benefits the worker (again, as long as their is freedom to work or not to work). Speaking as an economist, and a Christian, I believe we are to have compassion, but that does not mean we blindly believe the bleeding-heart rhetoric of the Left.

While on a mission trip to Haiti in 1991, I witnessed a Christian Mission Hiring workers for about $4 a day. It sounds awful, but $4 a day was above the average wage for day laborers. Would it be better that they not hire workers because they do not pay they what we here in the US consider "fair." In fact Haitians wanted industry, ANY indusrty, even thought they ALL paid low wages. Low wages was better than no wages.

I tell you what I remember, I remember the line to work for $4 a day went all the way around the block. $4 a day was a blessing! Work is work, and it is arrogant for us to assume that no work is better than low paying work.

Stories like the one posted on this blog sound wrong, but your reading of it might just be an oversimplificaion. It's a complex issue, and I don't think a boycott or a "living wage" is the right solution.

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

I agree that it's a complex issue.
Just because all Haitians are poor doesn't somehow make it okay that we Americans, who make up a tiny fraction of the world's population, use the overwhelming majority of its resources and hold most of the wealth.
Also, please stop with the name calling (i.e. "bleeding heart left" and "arrogant." I wasn't saying "no work is better than low paying work." I was saying "fair pay for work is better than underpaying for work."
What do some of the others of you think?

Anonymous said...

The "leftist rhetoric" I was referring to was to the article you linked, it was not directed at you. It was a leftist piece, not really fair and balanced, it gave no specifics, no data, and no sources. The article simply made a plea for "justice" without any substance.

Patti said...

I agree with you, Keri. We need to have a social conscience and be willing to act on it. When we discover injustice, we need to do our part in bringing awareness and doing something about it.