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Women Workers in the Tomato Food Chain

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Michael Adler

on 7 February 2014

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Transcript of Women Workers in the Tomato Food Chain

What were some of the similarities between the Mexican and Canadian workers of the Tomato Food Chain? Del Monte Loblaws McDonald’s Women workers were viewed by these companies as cheaper and more productive than male labor. Assembly line laborers in Del Monte, Mexico to produce ketchup

Canadian workers, the cashiers in Loblaws supermarkets and service workers in McDonald’s restaurants.

How do these women workers reflect, respond to and resist the “flexible labor strategy?” Women at all stages: Production, Preparation, and Consumption

“Just-in-time” Production because of Flexible Labor and demand of quality products. Tomasita McDonalds host to retail and service sectors.

Technologies allow for greater control over labor.

Derives from the Maquila free trade zones of Northern Mexico (areas dependent on part time female labor)

1. the feminization of the labor force
2. extreme segmentation of skilled categories
3. the lowering of real wages
4. A non-union orientation “McDonaldization” and “Maquilization” Michael Adler WHOSE ‘CHOICE’?

-Deborah Barndt “Plentiful pools of workers to chose from”

“Flexibility allows for maximization of profits, but does not serve the needs of Mexican or Canadian women.” Their Agribusiness was led by the northern NAFTA countries' demand for fruit.

“Women can better distinguish the colors of ripening fruit, and can put up with the monotony."
"Men are more restless, and won't put up with the monotony."

National identity, race, sex, class, age and marital status are the basis of workers' socially marginal roles. Santa Anita Packers Focus on diversified and specific demands for quality and quantity of production.

Shift risk of production to subcontractors

Maximizing profits while minimizing obstacles.
Trade tariffs, gov’t regulatory, underworked labor, and union org. Shift from Fordism to Post-Fordism “Food Means the World to Us.”
Increasing “diversity” through fresh “exotic” foods.

“Hidden cost” to produce these foods.
Degradation of arable land
Health and Dignity of Workers
Increasing Poverty
Sexist and Racist Employment Practices Tomasita Comes North While Big Mac Goes South
Santa Anita Packers - Tomato Producer
Del Monte - Ketchup Producer
McDonald’s and Lablaws - Suppliers

Women workers are key to companies, like those in the "tomato food chain," to yield from Institutionalized sexism and racism in a global food labor market. Producers and Consumers Mexico Canada Basis of NAFTA.
Deep inequalities within countries of NAFTA. Part-time work:
Limited to short shifts
Allowed for no breaks
Sales quotas
Lack of trade union organization
Strong company persuasion; "loyalty"
Increase in unionization success in British Columbia and Quebec. Unionized retail and market stores
United Food and Commercial Workers Union decreased the full-time cashier positions.
A switch to primarily part-time employees is termed "lean production."
Seniority dictates a laborer's selection of hours.
A 500 hour ceiling for a raise eligibility, equivalent to two years work. Four month ketchup production season (Feb.-May) dictated by the growing seasons
Less of an influence today due to greenhouse seasons
Combination of Fordist and Post-Fordist workers
Multi-skilled workers on a shifting mechanized line
Oversupply of unskilled women workers
Hiring and discharging workers "day-to-day" at peak production season (also considered "lean production") In what ways did these companies gain "flexibility," and how did that help them achieve control? Whose interests are served by an international "flexible" labor market? "Mixedness" Sexual Division of Labor Idealization of food and the market Free Trade Tomato Food Chain Questions Mestizo age discrimination

Technological advances
ie. monitors of fruit quality evaluate labor efficiency What ways were women prevented from equality in the workplace?
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