(Sept. 10, 5:30 p.m.) The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has found another ally in its effort to increase wages for tomato pickers.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market Inc. has signed an agreement to pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes grown in Florida.

Gerardo Reyes of the coalition said in a news release that it was the organization’s first agreement with a retail grocer.

The coalition reached an agreement in May after a contentious battle with Miami-based Burger King Corp. Yum Brands Inc., which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, agreed to the extra payments in 2005, and McDonald’s followed suit last year.

However, the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Growers Exchange Inc. has opposed the coalition’s plan, which proposes that businesses pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes with the additional funds going to workers.

Reggie Brown, manager of the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Committee and executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange Inc., has said growers cannot identify which worker should receive an additional payment, nor can the correct payment be calculated.