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Prime Mushrooms-Quincy Farms Boycott

The power of listening

On March 14, 1996, fed up with the conditions at Quincy Farms in the small town of Quincy in Northwest Florida, 90 mushroom pickers lost their jobs and their livelihood for peacefully raising their voices on their lunch break to demand fairness and dignity. Responding to a phone call from a local priest, National Farm Worker Ministry board member Sam Trickey quickly drove the back country roads from Gainesville to Quincy to support the workers’ in their fight.

An article in the New York Times(1) describes the situation this way: “The pickers here, almost all of them immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, say that although they want better pay and benefits — their average weekly wage, they say, ranges from $180 to $270 — of greater concern are job safety and security, and what one after another describe as the “disrespect” encountered daily.”

If not for the quick support of organizations like National Farm Worker Ministry and United Farm Workers, their fight may have gone unnoticed, but with the backing of the union and the support of the Ministry, the strike garnered national attention. The workers set the direction for the campaign, relying on NFWM for its eyes, ears, and sphere of influence.

Sam represented NFWM with a delegation of local faith-based organizations that worked to build awareness and support for a boycott of parent company Prime Mushrooms. “It was faith that brought these people together,” said Giev Kashkooli of United Farm Workers.

The delegation targeted local grocers, including supermarket chains Publix, Harveys, and Winn Dixie. Publix agreed to reduce their buy from Quincy Mushroom by 50% and Harvey’s stopped selling Prime Mushrooms altogether. When the grocers got involved, “that’s when we got the contract,” said Kashkooli.

Over two years into the boycott, the farm workers signed a union contract with Quincy Farms that included paid vacation, a 401(k) savings plan, and the God-given right of human dignity.

 (1) Navarro, Mireya. (1996 April). Florida Farm a Labor Battleground. The New York Times.

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