Reaction to Gov. Crist’s stance on farm labor justice strongly positive!…

Governor Crist’s support for the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food and admonishment of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE) for its opposition to the Campaign have received positive reviews across the board. Below is a letter to the editor in today’s Naples Daily News by the Rev. Russell L. Meyer, Tampa, Executive director, Florida Council of Churches, that is typical of the support for the Governor Crist’s groundbreaking stance:

Letter: Crist does the right thing

Gov. Charlie Crist is to be commended for meeting last Wednesday with representatives of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, hearing their stories and responding with appropriate compassion.

According to the Daily News, Crist said, “I’m not a man driven by anger, much, but two things will: injustice and arrogance. I detect from the briefings I’ve had and the meeting I just had that there may be a bit of both at work here and that concerns me greatly. We want to be a continuing partner to try to help with their plight.”

Farmworkers are often the forgotten laborers in Florida’s economy; yet we all depend on them greatly for our daily food. There have been far too many reports of farmworker abuse and modern slavery, on top of the hard-edge labor/management issues that have prevented them from receiving the additional wage support that large tomato users, such as McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, Burger King and Whole Foods, are now paying into escrow accounts.

Sure and swift prosecution of those who enslave and brutalize farmworkers must be an unquestionable habit for our justice system. Crist can make certain that happens.

To prevent laborers from receiving the earnings that the food industry wishes to reward them is a form of economic abuse. Crist would do right to use the leverage of his office to see that the escrow funds are distributed to their intended recipients.

The degraded labor conditions that give rise to slavery must be addressed so that never again are farmworkers enslaved in our state’s fields. Crist can marshal state resources to ensure fair labor conditions in Florida fields.

Farmworkers and their supporters thank Gov. Crist for hearing their plight, and we look forward to his partnership in seeing that right is done by them.

Rev. Russell L. Meyer, Tampa, Executive director, Florida Council of Churches

For more coverage, click on the following links: