April 21, 2010 by tristan savage
Katy and I just got back yesterday from an amazing three days in Florida with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group of organized migrant tomato pickers in South Florida that have been fighting for living wages, freedom from forced labor, and the beginnings of workplace democracy in the agricultural industry. They work in fields where 90% of the fresh tomatoes in the country come from during the winter months.
We walked for 3 days from Tampa to Lakeland, Florida, about 25 miles, with new friends who have been constantly harassed for trying to organize a coalition of fellow workers in the fields where they live, but who have also successfully brought some of the largest corporations in the world to the table to negotiate with them and agree to fair workplace standards (Taco Bell, Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Subway, etc.). This weekend we were marching to try and convince Publix Supermarkets to do the same, because so far they have refused to commit to purchasing fair food and combating slavery in the Florida tomato fields.
Publix doesn’t have much of a presence outside of the Southeast, but the next big targets of the Fair Food campaign will need to be Kroger (the conglomerate that owns Smith’s, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, etc.) and Walmart, so keep the campaign on your radar if you believe in food justice, from field to table. For students, there are ongoing campus campaigns for fair food organized by the Student Farmworker Alliance
Solidarity with all workers!