The hole that Burger King was in after the failure to agree to a penny-per-pound increase for tomato workers has just been getting deeper and deeper. Last week, we learned that a vice president in the company wrote some blog posts criticizing the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. There’s also talk of some e-mails sent from the BK server that were sympathetic to the group.
And today we learned that Burger King actually hired someone to spy on another group, the Student/Farmworker Alliance, that works with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers:
In March, a woman named Cara Schaffer contacted the Student/Farmworker Alliance, saying she was a student at Broward Community College. Her eagerness aroused suspicions, but she was allowed to join two of the group’s planning sessions. Internet searches by the alliance revealed that she was not a college student.
Ms. Schaffer is the 25-year-old owner of a private security firm. Her company, Diplomatic Tactical Services, seems like the kind of security firm you’d find in one of Carl Hiaasen’s crime thrillers. Last year Ms. Schaffer was denied a private investigator’s license; she had failed to supply the Florida licensing division with proof of “lawfully gained, verifiable experience or training.” Even more unsettling, one of her former subcontractors, Guillermo Zarabozo, is now facing murder charges in United States District Court in Miami for his role in allegedly executing four crew members of a charter fishing boat, then dumping their bodies at sea.
(Aside: for those of you outside of South Florida who are unfamiliar with this mystery at sea, read this. It’s pretty harrowing. And the fact that this woman is connected with Zarabozo is either just coincidence or totally sketchy. Take your pick.)
According to the company, the spying was done for security purposes in an effort to prevent any violent acts and ensure the safety of its employees and assets. Which would be justified if the group had a history of violence, which it does not. At all.
So, this could be fun. Sit back, relax, and watch the corporate backpedaling.
Burger King probes e-posts [Miami Herald]
Burger with a Side of Spies [New York Times]
Coalition of Immokalee Workers March Today On BK Headquarters [MP: South Florida]
Burger King [Official Site]