Senator Sanders & Eric Schlosser
Confront Immokalee Slavery
On Friday, January 18, 2008, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont visited Immokalee along with best-selling author Eric Schlosser. Visiting with the farmworker community just one day after a federal grand jury indicted six people in Immokalee for their part in what US Attorney Doug Malloy called “Slavery, plain and simple,” Senator Sanders called for congressional hearings “so that the American people can understand how slavery can take place in the year 2008.”
Senator Sanders also released two powerful letters signed by four U.S. senators (Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Durbin, Sen. Brown, and Sen. Sanders) to Burger King and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. In the letter to the FTGE, the Senators write “your expressed concern that the penny-per-pound program violates antitrust law does not hold up to even minimal legal scrutiny.”
In his powerful speech during a press conference at the CIW office, Sen. Sanders condemned the role Burger King and the private equity firms that are its major shareholders play in profiting from farmworker poverty. He said that the American people “need to understand why it is that huge multi-national corporations that make billions in profits are unable to pay people who supply the products they use a living wage. They need to know why financial institutions like Goldman-Sachs and others, who have major holdings in companies like Burger King, are not applying the proper moral leverage to bring about the necessary changes.”
For details on Sen. Sanders’ January 19th press conference and the January 18th grand jury indictment in what the Ft. Myers News-Press calls “one of the largest slavery prosecutions Southwest Florida has ever seen,” visit www.interfaithact.org/latestnews or Sen. Sanders’ website at www.sanders.senate.gov/issues/tomatoes.cfm
Thank you for your continued support,
Brigitte, Melody, and Jordan
Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida
Immokalee, FL ~ 239-986-0688
Coalition of Immokalee Workers Protest Against Burger King Bad Faith
Join farmworkers in calling on Burger King to ensure human rights and fair wages this November 30th….
Florida tomato pickers toil 10-12 hour days in the fields and earn just 40-50 cents per 32-lb bucket of tomatoes, a rate that hasn’t risen significantly in almost 30 years. At this rate, a farmworker must pick and haul 2 TONS of tomatoes to earn $50 in one day.
Farmworkers work long hours without overtime pay for overtime work, the right to organize, healthcare, or benefits of any kind. In the most extreme conditions, workers are held and forced to work against their will in modern-day slavery rings. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a Florida farmworker organization, has uncovered and assisted the U.S. Department of Justice in successfully prosecuting 5 modern-day slavery rings in the fields, freeing over 1,000 workers. For their work to address slavery and ensure human rights for farmworkers, three CIW leaders won the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights Award.
The CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food, combined with the support of religious leaders, people of faith, and others around the country has resulted in precedent setting agreements with Yum Brands, owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc. and McDonald’s — the two largest fast-food companies in the world– to directly improve the sub-poverty wages and working conditions for farmworkers picking tomatoes used by these companies. The CIW-Yum Brands and CIW-McDonald’s agreements have set precedents to ensure basic dignity and justice for farmworkers and advance corporate social responsibility.
The CIW and the religious community are calling on Miami-based Burger King to join in recognizing the dignity of our brothers and sisters who pick its tomatoes and also ensure fair wages and working conditions in its supply chain. Religious leaders, including Rev. Michael Livingston, President of the National Council of Churches, Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Bishop Whitaker of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Kent Siladi of the Florida Conference of the UCC, Bishop Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, Archbishop Favalora of the Archdiocese of Miami, and thousands of people of faith across the country and the state have written letters to Burger King urging them to work with the CIW to address the sub-poverty wages and working conditions of farmworkers in its tomato supply chain.
In the face of Burger King’s continued refusal to do so, the CIW and Interfaith Action are planning a major march and rally to Burger King Headquarters and a Festival for Fair Food: *Friday, November 30th: March to Burger King Headquarters for a Program, including prayer vigil and speakers. *Saturday, December 1st: Festival for Fair Food, including conference and concert.
For more information, visit www.ciw-online.org or www.interfaithact.org or contact Brigitte Gynther of Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida at 239-986-0688 or firstname.lastname@example.org.