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Group Protests Publix -- Sky Arnold

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -Oscar Otzoy came to America 7 years ago from Guatemala hoping to make more money for his family.

He says years of picking vegetables in Florida haven't turned out the way he hoped.
"Farm workers for generations have found very low and stagnant pay. For a 32 pound bucket of tomatoes we're only paid 50 cents for the last 20 years," said Otzoy through an interpreter.

It's why some 50 workers like him and other member of the Coalition of  Immokalee Workers (CIW) marched down West End Tuesday.

They are protesting against Publix for not signing on to an agreement that would pay pickers an extra penny a pound.

Other corporations like Walmart, Trader Joes and Whole Foods signed on earlier.

Rachel Tyree with Nashville Fair Food says the penny can really add up considering workers like Otzoy pick tons of food a day.

 "Sounds like a small change but it's making a huge difference in these worker's lives," said Tyree.

Fox 17 News asked Publix why it hasn't signed on to the Fair Food Program.
 "We believe this is a labor dispute between growers and the pickers," said Spokesperson Brenda Reid.

Reid says Publix doesn't get involved in labor disputes and is instead asking the parties involved to put that penny in the price it pays growers.

"If it's in the price then there would not be an issue," said Reid. "They are asking us to pay a penny to a separate organization not as a part of the price of the product."

CIW says that's actually exactly what the agreement does.

Otzoy says Publix is making excuses because it doesn't want to pay people like him that penny.

"What Publix is saying is how the program is working.  They just haven't been willing to do that," said Otzoy.