Flashback – 1955

Flashback: 1955 – 60 Years Ago

From “The First 25 Years -  A History of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association” by Robert Bobroff, 1993

When the FFVA Board of Directors met on October 3 at the Fountainbleau, Miami Beach, it received a confidential report from the special committee on salaries. It was a detailed report showing that the committee had reviewed directors’ meetings back to 1952, the organizational and functional charts of FFVA, the scope of the staff, job descriptions and classifications, as well as personal details of employees along with an analysis of the payrolls from May 31, 1954, to May 31, 1955.

This backup data was furnished to the Board along with the committee’s recommendation, which included:

General manager (Joffre David), $15,000 a year

Business manager (Donald A. Butts), $7,500

Labor division manager (William H. Anderson Jr.), $10,000

Traffic division manager (James T. Duncan), $8,000

Membership and shippers division (George Talbott), $6,500

Labor division field coordinator (George F. Sorn), $6,000

Vacations, the committee said, should be worked out by the general manager with a limit of two weeks with pay. Health and hospital insurance as carried should be paid by the association.

The committee also said a report listing employees and their salaries should be submitted to the Board on a semi-annual basis, and it urged the Board not to approve any variances in salaries.

The board adopted the report and turned to other business.

At the board’s final meeting of the year on October 28, General Manager David presented an action program for 1955-56. It included:

-          Continued support will be given to government agricultural agencies to ensure that sufficient appropriations and finances are received by all departments engaged in research of service to farmers.

-          FFVA personnel shall act in every way possible to liaison between the requirements and the problems of farmers and the established agency capable of rendering the action needed.

-          Research results, new agricultural developments and interesting information within the produce industry shall be promptly and accurately reported and distributed to farmers.

-          FFVA is to aid in building a more reliable supply of domestic farmworkers; continue to provide an orderly supply of supplemental foreign labor and the service incidental thereto; assist in developing adequate work incentives; and aid in proper compliance with existing regulations.

-          Research shall be pursued with growth-regulating compounds and new elements in an effort to improve flavor, quality and shipping characteristics of Florida-grown vegetables.

After enumerating the entire list, David said, “FFVA is built on the cooperative and united membership of Florida producers to meet those problems of mutual concern, which can only be solved or approached with statewide strength and uniform action. It is the responsibility of the directors and staff of FFVA to properly serve the current membership.”

David then read an appeal for donations to areas of the British West Indies, which had been devastated by a hurricane on September 22. He received a letter describing the situation on the islands from Ronald Tree, who had visited the areas:

“No words can describe the devastation as I have just witnessed it. It is worse than any bomb damage I saw in the war. The immediate problem is, of course, funds to buy food, tents and household appliances. Funds are needed to rebuild homes and restore roads. Perhaps more horrifying still is the long-range problem of re-establishing a livelihood for these hapless people.

“As an employer of West Indian labor, you are doubtless interested in their welfare. That is why I earnestly come to you for help …”

David explained that because the association is a user of labor from the stricken areas, there exists a “real as well as a moral obligation” because the workers contribute a portion of their earnings to offset the cost of the labor program. He suggested that if the Board decided to make a contribution that it be sent to the chief liaison officer of the BWI Central Labour Organization for remittance to the governor of the affected island, as was being done by some northern employers.

Board member Luther Chandler moved that $1,000 be contributed to the Hurricane Janet Relief Fund. The other directors agreed.

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