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April 08, 2010

Fight for farmworker justice in the Sunshine State

In the latest Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food initiative, Publix—a large supermarket chain based in Lakeland, Florida—has come under fire. While other food industry giants—including McDonald's, Subway and, most recently, Aramark—have signed agreements, Publix has failed to work with CIW to improve the wages and working conditions of farmworkers in Florida.

In response, the CIW has initiated an Email Action Alert asking supporters to email Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw and ask that the supermarket chain work with CIW to establish an agreement to provide improved wages and working conditions to those that harvest the tomatoes Publix sells in its produce department. There is also a planned march (April 16–18) that will incorporate pickets and prayer vigils at both a Publix supermarket and the Publix headquarters.

CIW represents tomato workers that have been exploited for decades. The low wages and poor working conditions, combined with instances of abuse, have often raised comparisons to modern day slavery—a comparison that is more than apt. In fact, CIW has aided the Department of Justice in prosecuting multiple slavery operations which took advantage of hundreds of farmworkers. IATP Food and Society Fellow Sean Sellers has worked closely with CIW since 2003 and recently went on tour around Florida showcasing these injustices as part of a Modern-Day Slavery Museum.

As an official endorser of the Alliance for Fair Food, IATP encourages you to join the Email Action Alert and learn more about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' fight for farmworker justice.

Andrew Ranallo

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