Fair Food protests bring International Human Rights Day home to Florida, Publix!

150 in Miami, 100 in Naples pressure Publix to protect farmworker rights in its tomato supply chain

Carrying a hand-written scroll calling on Publix to “honor and guarantee the fundamental human rights of farmworkers which have been violated and ignored far too long,” 150 farmworkers and Fair Food activists descended on a newly-opened Publix store in Miami yesterday to press their demands for ethical purchasing practices from the Florida grocery giant. The same store had been the subject of a pray-in by local South Florida religious leaders earlier last week.

The 8-ft long scroll, entitled “The Fair Food Code of Conduct: A Declaration of Farmworker Rights,” was unfurled and read aloud at the protest, and later delivered to a reluctant Publix representative. Here below is the text of the scroll in its entirety:

“Today – on this 63rd anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as people across the globe commemorate Human Rights Day – we call on Publix and other leading supermarkets to honor and guarantee the fundamental human rights of farmworkers which have been violated and ignored far too long:

Whereas no one should be forced to surrender their dignity in order to feed their family,

Whereas “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (UDHR, Article 1),

Whereas “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude” (UDHR, Article 4),

Whereas “everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity” (UDHR, Article 23, Section 3),

Whereas these fundamental and universal rights – among others – have been routinely violated in the agricultural industry,

Whereas through the Campaign for Fair Food, farmworkers and consumers have forged a path toward the full recognition of human rights in this nation’s agricultural fields,

Whereas nine leading food corporations along with virtually the entire Florida tomato industry have agreed to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to set in motion unprecedented changes which have brought the dawn of a new day in the fields, including:

  • A raise in the tomato picking piece rate which had been stagnant for 30 years;
  • The right to speak out against unsafe and abusive working conditions without fear of retaliation;
  • The right to work free from forced labor,

Whereas Publix refuses to work with the CIW to guarantee and enforce these new rights, thereby threatening to undermine these unprecedented yet fragile gains,

We call on Publix to end its inexplicable and unconscionable refusal to safeguard fair and safe working conditions in its supply chain and just compensation for the men and women who toil daily to harvest our food and who make Publix’s astronomical growth and profits possible.

We vow to continue this struggle until the light of a new day of respect for fundamental human rights shines for all farmworkers.”

Check out a colorful gallery of pictures from the Miami action here.

Meanwhile, across the state in Naples, FL, 100 protesters gathered on Saturday at a local Publix store to declare that “workers’ rights are human rights.”

Like the Miami protest the following day, the Naples protest was colorful and loud, with beautiful signs — courtesy of Karen Dwyer, the indefatigable Occupy Naples organizer with a real knack for messaging — that that could not be missed by the thousands of cars that passed by during the protest at the busy Naples intersection.

If you’d like to see and read more about the Naples protest, click on the links below: