Can a penny more for your labor make a significant difference in your life? The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) thinks so.
The CIW is a community-based organization representing migrant laborers throughout the state of Florida. Since its inception in 1993, the CIW has had strong activist roots, fighting against deplorable work conditions the group dubs “modern day slavery,” and leading campaigns to increase farmworkers’ compensation. Their most recent endeavor, The Campaign for Fair Food, launched in 2001, and focused on challenging the food industry as a whole, including grocery stores such as Kroger and Publix, and fast food giants like Taco Bell and Burger King. To date, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Whole Foods have all signed agreements with the CIW to either monitor work conditions in fields or pay more for produce such as tomatoes. The agreement to pay more for tomatoes directly impacts laborers, who would earn an additional penny per pound of tomatoes picked. Considering most farmworkers only earn $7,000 or less annually, this seemingly small increase can have substantial impacts.
In Florida, the CIW is taking its Campaign for Fair Food to the doors of Publix grocery stores on March 5th and 6th. The public is welcome to attend pickets and protests across Tampa Bay on either date, and can find more information on the CIW website: http://www.ciw-online.org/dotherightthing/march4.html.
AccessDenied will be represented by Nolan Kline, and pictures of the event will follow.
Updates from the US:
- This week, the Arizona State Senate voted on Bill SB 1405, which mandates that hospital staff verify the citizenship status of patients before providing any service. Despite the input of health care providers and hospitals during the last night’s session, including vocal protest, the bill passed 8-5.
- Other bills on the AZ table include a pair that challenge the birthright clause of the 14th Amendment, along with SB 1611, which one Arizona Republic reporter has called “SB 1070 on steroids”.
- Meetings of European Union ministers this week to address change in the Middle East were dominated by the possibility of increased migration from North Africa if regional unrest grows. Meanwhile, the EU will deploy Frontex experts along with aerial and naval support to assist with the rush of immigrants in Lampedusa.
- On a lighter but none less disturbing note, Dutch right-wing extremists have called for the deportation of illegal immigrant Scottish Highland cattle and Polish ponies.
- In Tunisia’s current power vacuum, many young and underemployed have left to seek a better life in Europe, including more than 3,000 who have illegally arrived by boat on the island of Lampedusa. The situation has created a humanitarian crisis and stirred political furor in Italy.
- Thousands of migrants heading to Israel have set off a national debate on how to deal with the influx. The advocacy organization Hotline for Migrant Workers has collected testimonies from some 1,000 African migrants trying to cross the Sinai Desert from Egypt into Israel about systematic beatings, rape and being held captive for ransom.
- Hundreds of foreign workers are living without jobs, shelter or a ticket home in the United Arab Emirates, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.