April 6, 2011 by tristan savage
When we moved to Nashville, Tennessee we thought we would be coming to a place where workers take it lying down- as the bosses and the cynics say around here, “we don’t like unions in the South.” But over the last year of working with the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Nashville-based Workers’ Dignity Project, we’ve learned from the best about what it means when we say “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
Here’s a couple videos and a rundown of the recent mobilization in Tampa from The Fine Print:
On March 5, over 1,500 farmworkers and their allies marched through the streets of Tampa during a rally organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) as part of their Do the Right Thing tour.
CIW began in 1993 as small group of farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida, looking out for each others’ interests. CIW now represents the collective voice of about 4,000 migrant workers of mostly Hispanic, Haitian, and Mayan descent, struggling for fair wages, affordable housing and stronger laws to prevent human rights violations on Florida’s fields.
Since 2005, CIW has struck deals with major corporations like Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonald’s, Aramark and Whole Foods, which have all agreed to pay one more cent per pound of tomatoes and use their market power to ensure better conditions for workers. Recently, CIW has shifted its focus to supermarkets, including Publix, which refuses to negotiate.
Publix’s current stance on sub-poverty wages, the over 1000 workers freed from slave labor in Florida over the last fifteen years, and the prevalence of sexual harassment in the tomato fields is:
“If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business.”
– Publix spokesperson Dwaine Stevens, 12/11/10
So a couple of weeks after a two dozen of us Nashville folks returned from the Tampa mobilization, we put on a protest at a local Publix. See, Publix is trying to expand -they told us they plan to open 20 stores in Nashville in the next few years- and we hope to persuade them that they can’t just hide from the systematic abuse of migrant farmworkers who bring us the food we eat. Here’s a news story on the Nashville protest, just a couple of weeks ago.
To get involved, check out the Fair Food committees all over the country– or start your own, to support the fight for food justice from field to table.