A national group working to convince companies to change the way they buy produce picketed Kroger's annual shareholder meeting Thursday.
A national group working to convince companies to change the way they buy produce picketed Kroger's annual shareholder meeting Thursday.
About 100 activists showed up, holding signs and chanting as shareholders filed into the meeting at Music Hall. Some were local, while others came from Columbus, Florida and elsewhere.
The group organizing the event, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, is based in Immokalee, Fla., and pushes for higher wages and improved working conditions for farm laborers. A large amount of produce production takes place in Florida and throughout the South, and the industry is rife with complaints of worker exploitation and mistreatment.
Hundreds of thousands of farm workers labor in Florida, and many make just pennies per pound picked, meaning it can take picking a couple tons a day to make a living wage. That’s if they make any money at all. Florida has prosecuted a number of cases of slave labor in the agricultural industry in the past decade and a half, leading to the discovery of more than 1,000 people being exploited for unpaid slave labor.
The adverse conditions affect people of color disproportionately. A study by the Center for Racial Justice Innovation found that 50 percent of low-wage workers in the food industry are people of color, and that 65 percent of low-wage farm workers are Hispanic.
CIW started in 1993 as a small, local coalition working to improve these conditions, specifically working with tomato pickers. The group began near the city of Immokalee in southwest Florida, known as “the tomato capital of the world.” The organization had big success pushing for higher wages and better treatment and has grown to become a national-level organizing group for workers.
Oscar Otzoy picks produce and advocates for farm labor rights. He’s working in Columbus now but lived in Immokalee for eight years before that. He's been involved in the coalition to improve farm workers’ rights that entire time.
He says before the coalition, working days in the fields were long, and workers had little recourse when they were mistreated.
“Back then, you’d work long, hard hours, and if you were abused in the fields, if you were a victim of sexual harassment, as many women are, there was no system,” he said. “If workers wanted to complain, they would be fired on the spot. That’s all changing now.”
Otzoy says the life of a farm laborer can be hard, especially without groups like the CIW.
“You wake up very early in the morning, usually about 4 a.m., and then get on a bus to the field to work,” said Otzoy, describing a typical day before he joined the coalition. “But when you get there, you usually don’t start working until about 10 a.m., when the pesticides have dried and it’s safe to enter. All the time in between is unpaid.”
The CIW’s Fair Food Program, an effort to address some of the hardships of work in the produce industry, pushes for an extra cent per pound paid to workers, supports a code of conduct for companies and educates workers about their rights. CIW says the Fair Food Program has resulted in $12 million in extra pay for workers since it was first instituted.
McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, Chipotle, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Wal Mart, among other large companies responsible for billions of dollars in the produce trade, have all participated in the Fair Food Program. Some staunch holdouts include Wendy’s and Publix, a Southern grocery store chain.
Kroger is another company that has yet to join in.
“We’ve been here every year, and we’re trying to grow our numbers,” said Sameerah Ahmad, a local organizer working with CIW at the protest. “We’ve been organizing these protests for a few years. We want to show escalation and pressure and show we’re not going way.
Kroger is the nation’s largest grocer after Wal-Mart, with total sales of more than $34 billion. The chain has not yet responded to calls to join fair food efforts. While the company itself hasn’t participated directly in any known agricultural injustices, Ahmad said that as part of the produce industry, the company should make sure it’s sourcing its food ethically.
“Kroger can take a big step by supporting workers’ rights in the fields,” she said.
Alright, it’s pretty early in the morning for me, so please forgive me for the following hokey, news-related metaphor.
Cincinnati City Council is about to go on summer vacation, but they’ve spent the past few days doing all their homework, including at least one pretty tough math problem. Yesterday they turned their work in, giving final approval for deals that will bring more than 4,000 jobs to the city. These include an eventual 600 new jobs from Cincinnati Bell, which is consolidating its operations downtown, and another 650 new jobs from Catholic Health Partners, which is moving to Bond Hill.
They also made some more controversial decisions, including giving 3CDC preferred developer status over 33 properties north of Liberty Street. The neighborhood’s community council has balked at that idea, saying room needs to be made for independent developers, affordable housing and community input.
The toughest fight came over what to do about two affordable housing projects vying for the same pot of $1.9 million. In the end, council’s Budget and Finance Committee did some subtraction, giving $1.3 million to Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and holding back the rest for supportive permanent housing, possibly in the form a project in Avondale, though that project has received some criticism.
• Mayor John Cranley was scheduled to join U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzger and America Online co-founder Steve Case at Fountain Square this morning to talk about start-ups and entrepreneurialism. The event kicked off at 9:30 a.m. and was part of the “Rise of the Rest” tour, which celebrates start-up culture in America’s cities.
• The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been all over Cincinnati of late. A few days ago, it put two Cincinnati buildings on its list of 11 most endangered in the country. But it’s also given the city some positive attention, penning this blog/love letter to Cincinnati’s brewery scene. Aw shucks, thanks guys.
• There’s a bear out there, and he’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. The black bear seemingly wandered into Ohio from Kentucky sometime earlier this week and has most recently been spotted in Montgomery. An Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokesperson told WXIX that the bear is “looking for a girlfriend” and that the limited bear population in Ohio means he’ll probably have little luck. Which makes me wonder: Whose job it is to teach this bear how to use Tinder?
• Ohio has seen its Hispanic populations grow in every county except one, even as the state’s non-Hispanic population declines. The state gained about 32,000 people who identify as Hispanic between 2010 and now, and lost 7,000 people identifying as non-Hispanic. The ethnic designation is a bit problematic — it has nothing to do with race and identifies people from a range of countries with a range of backgrounds — but in general refers to those who identify with cultures from Mexico, Central or South America. The boost in the Hispanic population isn’t so much due to immigration, demographers say, as it is to birthrate. More American-born Hispanics have recently come of age and started having children, according to the study done by the Census Bureau.
• A recent study suggests America's housing situation is about to change dramatically as more of the Millennial generation surges into the housing market. That could have huge implications for rental costs, housing availability in the city and the supply of affordable housing, experts say.
• Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-West Chester, is threatening to sue the Obama administration over his use of executive orders and his supposed failure at enforcing laws properly. The suit is also rumored to include a dispute over a used 1986 Pontiac Firebird Boehner bought from Obama on Craigslist that Boehner says has a pretty bad oil leak. No, no, it's actually just the first two. Because you know, Congress has been SO SO GOOD at its job lately.
• Finally, it’s been a mixed-up ride for the tea party of late. The insurgent conservative movement gained a huge victory when House candidate David Brat toppled Majority Leader Eric Cantor. But bruising primary results in other states, including Mississippi, haven’t been great for the movement. There, incumbent Senator Thad Cochran held on to his seat even after he was down in the primary election to tea partier and State Senator Chris McDaniel. But Cochran thumped McDaniel in a runoff election. Other primaries taking place in the past few days have shown similar results. The losses certainly don’t represent the end of the conservative phenomenon, but it seems candidates sponsored by outside groups like Club for Growth and Freedomworks are not gaining the traction conservative activists had hoped for. Which, you know, is great, because these guys are usually pretty nuts.
Aegis: used in the idiom “under the aegis of,” meaning sponsored or supported by, n.
I’m sure we’ve all read this word, using context clues for the correct definition, but I wonder how often it gets thrown around in conversation. Does anyone know how to pronounce aegis? I’m thinking AGEis, aGIS. After hitting up Merriam-Webster for a robot audio pronunciation, it’s Egis. Your next challenge is finding a way to casually incorporate it in conversation, pronouncing it correctly.
In the paper: “under LCT’s aegis” in Rick Pender’s "Curtain Call" column for the week on the League of Cincinnati Theatres Award.
Ephemera: a class of collectable items not originally intended to last more than a short time, n.
*Pick of the Week* I like this because it’s a niche word. It can only be used to describe stuff like trading cards and tickets, which is awesome. I wonder which was used first, the adjective ephemeral, which can be used to describe anything fleeting, or the more selective noun?
paper: “there is little fortune in ephemera like the card,” shout-out to Maria
Seda-Reeder for using ephemera correctly, describing the 1940s business card of
a creepy, self-appointed “dealer of love” in “Another Man’s Treasure.” Also, if
I may say, I smiled at the title because I thought "No, not one man’s trash — that’s
another man’s come-up." Come-up, if you don’t know, means
something like “cool stuff found in a thrift store” and Macklemore's “Thrift Shop” brought it into colloquial use.
Irascible: irritable, adj.
This is one of those words where I can feel what it’s supposed to bring to the sentence just by the way it looks and is pronounced, but I couldn’t come up with a single synonym because I really have no idea and the “feel” of a word is something I just made up.
In the paper: “a portrait of irascible President Lyndon Johnson.” Rick Pender pulled a double vocab hitter in “Curtain Call,” as you know he also gave us this week’s “aegis.” Should he get “Vocab Master” of the week? Fun fact, I learned from Ben L. Kaufman’s “On Second Thought” that theater-writer Pender is a former CityBeat arts editor. Maybe you already were aware. Perhaps some of the current editors will follow Pender’s lead and include some more daring vocabulary in their issue contributions.
Incursion: hostile invasion of territory, n.
This is basically just a fancy version of “invasion,” which I’m guessing is more widely understood. I’d like to note incursion is the opposite of excursion, which we all know is an outing.
In the paper: “The Avengers repelled an alien incursion of planet Earth,” in tt stern-enzi’s cover story on summer movies. He used “incursion” because “invasion” was just too mundane.
Relegate: to send something to a lower ranking, v.
Relegate is extremely obvious from context clues and this probably isn’t a new vocab word for anyone. But as a copy editor, I had to ask ‘Why didn’t she just use “delegate” instead? Technically, delegate would work because it also means to elect something to represent something else, but Kathy Y. Wilson was trying to convey a demotion of sort, hence relegate was the precise verb for the job. Bravo.
paper: “pitbulls have been relegated to outcast status,” in Kathy Y. Wilson’s
“Wagging the Dog.”
Rachel Podnar writes "From the
Copy Desk" weekly from her desk as CityBeat's intern copy editor.
Her job is to find and correct everybody else's mistakes, occasionally
referencing a dictionary to check one of our more
writers' choices of words. She rounds up and recaps the best ones here.
A role on a Law and Order episode is a rite of passage for actors — it won’t necessarily guarantee success, but nearly every major TV actor has done time in the Law and Order franchise. I mean honestly, if you haven’t portrayed a bludgeoned child prostitute, an over-affectionate music teacher or an undercover crack dealer, I’m really not interested in the rest of your body of work.
Who doesn’t love recognizing actors before they made it in old SVU reruns, or seeing more established actors guest-star on new episodes? One minute it’s, “Hey, isn’t that bailiff the neighbor from Shameless?” Next thing you know, it’s 3 a.m. on a Tuesday and you’re in an IMDB black hole. We’ve all been there. Thankfully for fans of Orange Is the New Black that are obsessive TV watchers, someone has cross-referenced the L&O archives to create this list of every Orange character’s appearances on everyone’s favorite gavel-thumping series.
Fun Fact: OITNB star Taylor Schilling has never appeared on L&O — and her IMDB page starts in 2007. Newbie!
Fun Fact No. 2: Taylor Swift recently got a cat and named it Olivia Benson, so. It’s been a very Dick Wolf week.
Since TV and food go together like Benson and Stabler (never forget), Ben & Jerry’s is releasing a line of Saturday Night Live-inspired ice cream flavors. Lazy Sunday — named after the Andy Samberg/Chris Parnell rap video that put the SNL Digital Shorts on the map in 2005 — is not flavored with Mr. Pibb and Red Vines (missed opportunity), but rather yellow and chocolate cupcake pieces in vanilla cake batter ice cream with a chocolate frosting swirl (I seriously gained four pounds typing that). Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch, a chocolate and sweet cream ice cream swirled with marshmallow, fudge-covered almonds and caramel clusters for no apparent reason, pays tribute to Kristen Wiig’s prankster schoolgirl character. Two additional SNL flavors will roll out later this year.
Double Dare was a gem of a game show from Nickelodeon’s heyday. But stacked up against today’s sophisticated offerings like American Ninja Warrior, the family-friendly DD probably wouldn’t work in the new millennium. At least we’ll always have Marc Summers and these faaaabulous pri-zes!
History will be divided
into two times: before there were selfies and when everyone just gave up on
life. If this is true, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis will find themselves on
both sides of history, as they recently recreated their famous
Polaroid self-portrait photograph from Thelma
Athletes are no strangers to hecklers. Take a pastime that’s revered on a religious level for many fans, then add alcohol — it’s not always going to be classy. During last week’s rain-delayed Reds game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, one spirited Pirates fan took to heckling Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. His taunts echoed in the near-empty stadium, ringing loud and clear for an amused Phillips. The second baseman responded by signing a ball for the heckler, thanking him for the support and asking him to kindly “shut the phuck up,” and posing for a picture.