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Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fast Outside Publix's Lakeland Headquarters

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LAKELAND, Fla. -- Florida farmworkers and their supporters are staging a fast outside Publix Super Markets headquarters in Lakeland.

The fast organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers started Monday and will last through Saturday.

The coalition wants Publix to join a program that supports pay increases for tomato pickers and prevents human rights violations against farmworkers.

Whole Foods Market, McDonald's and other larger corporate buyers of Florida tomatoes have joined the program.

A spokeswoman for Publix says the company is willing to pay the extra money for the tomatoes but that the issue is between farmworkers and growers. Shannon Patten says the super market chain doesn't get involved in disputes between outside employers and their workers.

But coalition spokesman Marc Rodrigues says Publix wouldn't be doing that by joining the program.

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