|Published:||Aug 05, 2012 10:45 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Aug 05, 2012 11:49 PM EDT|
NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - Immokalee farmworkers are welcoming Southwest Florida's latest Publix with a petition.
It's the latest protest by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers as they continue their campaign to get Publix to join the Fair Food Program, a partnership between tomato growers and food retailers.
The protesters braved the rain and delivered a petition with over 600 signatures to the store managers.
Ten other major food retailers have signed on and workers said it's created better conditions for those out in the fields.
"This code of conduct makes a huge difference in workers' lives. It's saying no to abuses in the fields, to slavery, to sexual misconduct and abuses like that," said supporter, Rev. Allison Farnam.
Farmworkers in Florida have reportedly been among the country's worst paid and least protected.
"Publix thus far has turned a blind eye to the abuses and unlike other supermarkets have not taken the responsibility to be a part of putting an end to those abuses," stated Silvia Perez, a farm worker and mother.
Workers are asking for one-cent more per pound of tomatoes, to end what they say is Florida's "Harvest of Shame."
Supporters are upset that Publix has yet to sign on.
"When I hear about all the good works that Publix has done in the community, I'm very sad to be continually disappointed they wont come to the table and sign on the the campaign for fair food," Farnam said.
Publix said in their official statement, "Since first approached by the CIW 3-years ago, we have consistently viewed this issue as a labor dispute."
They say it's the responsibility of their suppliers to monitor working conditions and manage their workforce.
"We'll keep coming back until they come to the table with us," said Perez.
According to the CIW, farm workers earn 50-cents for every 32-pounds of tomatoes they pick. At that rate, they must pick more than two tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage. Most farmworkers today earn less than $12,000 a year.
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