Boycott Burger King

I worked at Burger King in high school, first as a fry cook, then burger builder, and eventually as a drive-thru cashier. It was hard work. I was on my feet the entire shift, performing a never ending stream of repetitive tasks, facing customers who were thankless and often downright rude. And to top it all off, the pay was lousy.

Compared to migrant farm workers, though, I had a cush job.
The migrant farm workers who harvest tomatoes in South Florida have one of the nation’s most backbreaking jobs. For 10 to 12 hours a day, they pick tomatoes by hand, earning a piece-rate of about 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket. During a typical day each migrant picks, carries and unloads two tons of tomatoes. For their efforts, this holiday season many of them are about to get a 40 percent pay cut.
As a former Burger King employee and loyal customer, I read Eric Schlosser's op-ed ("Penny Foolish") in today's New York Times with more than just passing interest.

Here is the skinny:
New York Times graphicIn 2005, Florida tomato pickers gained their first significant pay raise since the late 1970s when Taco Bell ended a consumer boycott by agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for its tomatoes, with the extra cent going directly to the farm workers. Last April, McDonald’s agreed to a similar arrangement, increasing the wages of its tomato pickers to about 77 cents per bucket. But Burger King, whose headquarters are in Florida, has adamantly refused to pay the extra penny — and its refusal has encouraged tomato growers to cancel the deals already struck with Taco Bell and McDonald’s.
Just like that, Burger King killed the agreement previously made by Taco Bell and McDonald's. And just like that, I will be boycotting Taco Bell and McDonald's as well as Burger King, along with others like me.

All over a lousy penny.