IMMOKALEE, Fla.--(Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and their consumer allies from across the state and country will gather at Jesus Obrero Catholic Church in Ft. Myers, Florida, to begin a two-week, 200-mile march to Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. Marchers will be calling on the Florida-based grocery giant to honor the breakthrough social responsibility partnership for farm labor reform known as the Fair Food Program (FFP). Along the way, they will talk with tens of thousands of consumers about the Fair Food Program and Publix’s refuses to meet the program’s social responsibility standards.)--On Sunday, March 3rd, hundreds of farmworkers from the
“While the changes we are seeing in farmworkers’ lives today are indeed unprecedented”
The FFP brings together farmworkers, growers, consumers, and eleven multi-billion dollar retail food leaders (including Publix competitors Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) in support of fair wages and humane labor standards for tomato harvesters. Despite the FFP’s unprecedented success in bringing about labor reforms in Florida’s $500-million tomato industry, Publix, one of the largest purchasers of Florida tomatoes, refuses to support the program and continues to buy tomatoes from the handful of Florida growers where workers are denied access to the FFP’s higher standards, complaint mechanism, and “penny-per-pound” bonus.
“While the changes we are seeing in farmworkers’ lives today are indeed unprecedented,” says Gerardo Reyes of the CIW, “there is still much to be done. With each new corporation that joins, the wage increases and labor reforms grow and deepen, which is why Publix’s decision to turn its back on the FFP is so unconscionable. Its support, which would cost Publix little or nothing, could significantly change the lives of some of the state’s hardest workers, yet the $28 billion company won’t even show farmworkers the respect of granting us a meeting to discuss the Fair Food Program face-to-face.”
“We are going to take our case directly to the consumers through our presence in the streets, through nightly meetings with supporters in churches, schools, and community halls along the way, and through our voices in the media,” added the CIW’s Oscar Otzoy. “We will not rest until Publix realizes that the 21st century supermarket cannot afford to turn its back on human rights.”
March 3, 11:00 AM (Ft. Myers): The CIW will launch the 200-mile march from Jesus Obrero Catholic Church in Ft. Myers, beginning with a special blessing and then a march through Ft. Myers.
March 9, 7:00 PM (Sarasota): The Sarasota community and New College students will gather to greet marchers, highlighted by a popular education theatre piece.
March 17, 4:00 PM (Lakeland): Joined by hundreds more allies from across the country and Florida, the culmination of the march will be at the Publix Headquarters, with a celebration of the 200-mile journey.