Today is day one of the “Fast for Fair Food” in support of Coalition of Immokalee Workers 150 participants, who include Food For Maine’s Future Executive Director, Bob St. Peter, are fasting in front of Publix’s Headquarters in Lakeland, FL. Fasters will have “daily medical check-ups, music, presentations, and standing in witness to the daily struggle for survival of their fellow farmworkers in the fields of Florida.” Support is coming in from all over the world. Many are holding their own fast where they live in solidarity for the workers.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers are continuing their fight for “a penny a pound”. Most recently, Trader Joe’s joined other company’s such as Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burker King and Subway in signing a Fair Food Agreement with the workers. Publix continues to hold out claiming they should not be paying the wages of employees of other companies. They say they would pay the extra penny if it is included in the fair market price they pay to their suppliers and that this is a labor dispute; they have a long history of not participating in such disputes.
“Not only does the Fair Food program not require what Publix is claiming, it does not allow it,” Reyes said. “The fair food premium works like a fair trade premium does. And Publix pays and promotes that on every bag of its Greenwise Fair Trade Coffee. Tomato retail buyers pay a small premium to the grower on every pound of tomatoes they buy through the Fair Food program. The growers then distribute that money to their workers through their regular payroll as a line item on each worker’s paycheck.
“Publix says they would pay the fair food premium if the growers would only ‘put it in the price.’ Well, they should consider their bluff called. The growers will put the premium in the price for any retailer who wants that, and we would sign a fair food agreement today with Publix stating they can pay that way if that is what they want.”
Immigrant workers are an essential part of our economy. They supply labor in areas where no one else is willing to work. They have no rights to medical insurance, overtime pay, vacations, or rights to organize. They are frequently exploited in areas besides working in the fields and frequently come here for reasons beyond their control. These workers find themselves deprived of legal status, community, and the ability to become self-sufficient.
Food for Maine’s Future has the mission of building a just, secure, and democratic food system for all. We are dedicated to assisting the efforts of organizations such as CIW, and Migrant Justice who work to engage communication with communities and organize migrant farmworkers. A component of Saving Seeds Farm in Sedgwick, Maine is developing programs that will assist in meeting the needs of migrant workers – giving voice to those who have none.
Share your comments of support here throughout the week and Bob will see that they are shared with “Fast for Fair Food” participants. Check in on our FB page for updates!