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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

After months of negotiations, UF students will be able to eat their cheeseburgers without the side of guilt.

The Immokalee workers, who pick tomatoes used by UF’s food provider Aramark, will receive about 1 cent more for each pound of tomatoes they pick.

Aramark reached an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and announced the agreement Thursday.

Under the agreement, Aramark will also direct its tomato purchases to growers who follow a code of conduct outlining improved working conditions for the workers.

Richard Blake, a UF sociology sophomore and a member of the Student/Farmworker Alliance, helped organize the negotiations.

He said the Student/Farmworker Alliance has held educational meetings, handed out fliers and organized several rallies in support of the agreement and the code of conduct.

“We were really excited because we’ve put in a lot of work over the last eight months or so,” Blake said.

Greg Asbed, a staff member with CIW, said the students and supporters at UF helped the coalition’s efforts to improve the working conditions.

Student Government senators passed a resolution in October advocating a pay increase and better treatment for Immokalee workers.

“It seems like the students at UF were really very supportive and active and willing to do everything they could to make this happen,” Asbed said.

Dave Schneider, a UF political science and history sophomore and a Student/Farmworker Alliance member, said the agreement will have a direct impact on the workers, which is what students wanted.

“In a year’s time, we brought a multi-million dollar national corporation down to its knees, which is pretty cool,” Schneider said.

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Asbed said nobody could defend the conditions workers faced in the tomato fields.

When CIW sat down and spoke with Aramark about the seriousness of the issue, it was only a matter of time before they reached an agreement.

“What we’re asking for is definitely not that hard, not that big and definitely reasonable,” Asbed said.

Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler said the 1-cent increase in wages will be distributed directly to the workers.

She said Aramark was pleased an agreement was reached, and the two organizations had been working on the agreement for a while.

“Our goal was to help improve the working conditions for the workers,” Cutler said.

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