Press: News from the March

Click here for the press release for the weekend of March 17th (PDF)

Click here to download the original March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food Press Release (PDF)

Press from Day Eleven

"... One of the CIW founders, Lucas Benitez, said 11 corporations have already signed onto the pledge but Publix won't budge. 'And Publix- we're not asking them to invent anything, the wheel is already going, the vehicle of justice is already on its way,' he said, 'but Publix doesn't want to be a part of it.'" read more

"... As the CIW puts it, the purpose of the march is two-fold: to celebrate the real accomplishments ofv the past 13 years and to recall the struggles that must lie ahead for a fair food nation. One of the continuing struggles in- volves Publix and other supermarket chains, which have refused to meet with members of the CIW in the face of great pressure from consumers and farmworkers.

The immense pressure that has subsequently convinced 90 per- cent of Florida’s tomato growers as well as 11 multi-billion-dol- lar corporations—from fast-food companies to supermarkets (so far, only Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have signed on) to food service providers (such as Aramark and Sodexo)—to adopt the CIW’s Fair Food Program has grown from the great resonance of food justice with American consumers. For the CIW, the and farmworkers alike must address the system that separates them to produce any change within it." read more

Press from Day Nine (March 11th)

" ... 'Today was a beautiful moment, because for the first time in history a company that produces tomatoes decided to have food for all of us on our journey,' [Gerardo Reyes, CIW] said. 'It happened with one of our farmers, and it was the first company that signed our agreement.'

The changes that have come about, thanks to this kind of cooperation, include a 'partnership where workers are encouraged to use the Fair Food Program when there are issues in the field that need to be addressed. The difference is that there is a system that was created exactly for that,' Reyes said. 'Now we can identify the problems that happen and, working together, be able to bring those problems to an end. It's never been perfect, but never before was there a system to bring these issues to an end.' read more

Press from Day Seven (March 9th)

Press from Day Six (March 8th)

"With its emphasis on human rights and social responsibility in the produce industry, the march is another leg of the longer journey to eradicate poverty wages, sexual harassment and abuse, and in extreme case, modern-day slavery in the produce supply chain of our food system. [...]

"While the Florida march, entitled “Derechos, Respeto y Comida Justa” (Rights, Respect and Fair Food), is not only about women and girls, the focus on human rights and the ability to work freely with dignity and respect are longstanding feminist goals. And the march celebrates the significant partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers and major food corporations (such as McDonalds, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Burger King) that has been made possible by the Fair Food Program (FFP)." read more

"We're opening or creating a path and establishing important precedents in the tomato industry to serves as a model," [Cruz Salucio of the CIW] said. "We'd love for one day that 'New Day' to shine throughout the agriculture industry." read more

Press from Day Two (March 4th)

"... The Fair Food Program is a partnership between farmworkers, growers, consumers and, currently, 11 major food corporations who support higher wages and more humane labor practices for tomato harvesters...

... 'With each new corporation that joins, the wage increases and labor reforms grow and deepen,' says Gerardo Reyes, of the coalition. '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.'" read more

"While it may not be the direct responsibility of a large chain to get involved with a supplier's labor disputers with their employees, there is some moral responsibility. A company like Publix which prides itself on making the Forbes "Best Places to Work" list, should be willing to leverage its enormous purchasing power to make life easier for the people who pick the fruits and vegetables that land on their shelves.....and our table." read more

Press from Day One (March 3rd)

"More than 200 farmworkers, students, area activists and others rallied in Fort Myers on Sunday before launching a two-week, 200-mile march to Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland.

After morning services at Jesus Obrero Catholic Church in Fort Myers, rally participants gathered at Terry Park on Palm Beach Boulevard to eat lunch and listen to inspirational speeches about the effort to get the Florida-based grocery giant to honor a farm labor reform known as the Fair Food Program.

Those who have signed the program’s pact agree to raise tomato harvesters’ wages a penny for each pound they pick, which could mean an increase from about $10,000 to $17,000 annually.

'We hope to move public consciousness to decide it is time for Publix to do the right thing and sign the Fair Food Program,' said Gerardo Reyes, spokesman for the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers, which sponsored the rally and march. 'Their 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.'” read more

"FORT MYERS — Immokalee farmworkers marched through the streets of Fort Myers on Sunday, chanting for fair pay and human rights in the fields.

They had religious leaders, students and food industry professionals from throughout Southwest Florida by their side...

... 'These farm workers are willing to lose two weeks of work because it’s not just about today,' Benitez said.

'It’s about generations to come. We have good conditions in our fields now because of this program, but we’re not precisely sure which farms Publix is buying their tomatoes from.

Silvia Perez of Immokalee described years of injustices and intimidation in the fields, particularly against women.

'We want Publix to put their purchasing power to farms who otherwise would be happy to keep bad conditions that have always existed,' Perez said.

'We want Publix to come to the table and do the right thing like so many other companies are doing.'” read more

Press Release


Gerardo Reyes Chavez
(239) 503 0950

Marley Moynahan
(239) 357 0393


Farmworkers, consumers to launch two-week, 200-mile "March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food" calling on Publix to support historic human rights advances in Florida tomato fields

March to highlight farm labor reforms underway thanks to Fair Food Program, Publix's unconscionable decision to turn its back on social responsibility

Immokalee, Florida (February 22, 2013) – On Sunday, March 3rd, hundreds of farmworkers from the 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).

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 long-overdue 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.

"After decades of what Edward R. Murrow called the 'Harvest of Shame,' the Fair Food Program is something the Florida tomato industry, something all of us can all be proud of -- labor rights advances that are setting the bar for social responsibility in the US produce industry today," said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. "But while the changes we are seeing in farmworkers' lives today are indeed unprecedented, 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."

Marchers will begin in Ft. Myers and head north up the west coast of Florida along Highway 41, one of the state's busiest commercial corridors, to Tampa, where they will then turn inland to complete the two-week, 200 -mile trek to Publix's corporate headquarters in Lakeland. Along the way, they will talk with tens of thousands of consumers about the Fair Food Program and Publix's failure to meet the program's social responsibility standards.

"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 Highlights:

March 3, 11:00 AM (Ft. Myers): Workers and allies will launch the 200-mile march from Jesus Obrero Catholic Church in Ft. Myers, beginning with a blessing and then a march through Ft. Myers.

Jesus Obrero Catholic Church
881 Nuna Ave

March 9, 7:00 PM (Sarasota): In the evening, the Sarasota community and New College students will gather to greet marchers, highlighted by a popular education theatre piece.

Caples Bayfront Campus at Waterfront
5313 Bayshore Rd

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.

Publix Corporate Headquarters
3300 Publix Corporate Highway

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About the Coalition of Immokalee Workers: The CIW ( is a community-based farmworker organization headquartered in Immokalee , Florida , with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance with national and international human rights standards. The CIW's Campaign for Fair Food has won unprecedented support for fundamental farm labor reforms from retail food industry leaders, with the goal of enlisting the market power of those companies to bring about more humane labor standards in their tomato suppliers' operations.