Burger King is embroiled in a labor dispute with tomato pickers in Florida, and now a Burger King executive has been tied to e-mail spreading misinformation about the workers' cause, says Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press.
At issue is a one-cent-a-pound increase in the rate paid to Florida tomato-pickers, which could amount to as much as $20 extra daily for the workers, Williams says. She says that would be a big deal for laborers who typically earn about $60 a day, and that it could cost as little as $250,000 extra a year for Burger King.
"When you consider that Burger King has about $11 billion in annual sales and $2.2 billion in corporate earnings last year, the numbers don't seem like a huge challenge," Williams says.
Critics of the rate increase suggest that the extra money will go to growers, not workers. In addition, Williams says, Burger King is concerned that if the increase goes through, it could violate anti-trust rules — an argument that she says legal scholars have repudiated.
Williams says a Burger King executive, Stephen Grover, has been tied to blog posts and e-mails spreading misinformation about the effort to secure a pay increase for the farm workers. The company has said it will "take appropriate disciplinary action," she says.
But the fast food giant also confirms that it has a relationship with a security firm called Diplomatic Tactical Resources, which plants spies within labor organizations for its clients.
A Burger King spokesman defends his company's relationship with Diplomatic Tactical Services. The spokesman, Keva Silversmith, says activists sympathetic with the tomato pickers have engaged in vandalism and shouted threats at employees, and that Burger King has a right and a duty to protect its franchise and its employees.