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At Publix in Ballantyne, labor activists protest pay and conditions at tomato farms

By Ely Portillo

Several dozen workers and labor organizers protested outside Publix’s new store in Ballantyne on Thursday, demanding the grocer join a program designed to improve pay and conditions for tomato farm workers in Florida.

The workers are part of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that has been pressuring Publix for years. The group has a dozen other retailers and food companies signed on to its Fair Food Program, which provides higher pay and stricter safety conditions for farm workers.

Florida-based Publix has said that the issue is a labor dispute between tomato growers and their workers and that the company doesn’t want to intervene.

The coalition is on a 10-day tour of 10 cities designed to increase pressure on Publix, which is expanding aggressively into the Charlotte region. Ely Portillo

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