February 2, 2011

Message for the Fair Food Movement

photo by Andrew West, News-Press
Dear compañeras and compañeros, friends, allies, and Fair Food activists across the country,

When our struggle for dignity and respect began in the streets of Immokalee fifteen years ago, we knew it would take a long and arduous journey to realize our dreams. The mentality that reigned for so long in the agricultural industry — typified by one grower who dismissed six of our compañeros on a 30-day hunger strike by scoffing “the tractor doesn't tell the farmer how to run his farm” — seemed as solid and unmovable as a great stone wall.

Today, as a result of our Campaign for Fair Food, there are amazing changes underway in Immokalee. We say our because this movement belongs to all of us: farmworkers and students, consumers and organizers, fighters and dreamers.

But our journey is far from complete.

As farmworkers, as members of the CIW, and as mothers who want to leave a better world for our children, we make this appeal today on the verge of one of our most important mobilizations ever to all of our allies to do whatever it takes to join us for the upcoming Do the Right Thing” action in Tampa.

As we work tirelessly in Immokalee on the implementation of the Fair Food Code of Conduct for which we have fought all these years, we ask that you too organize in your community — talk to your friends, hand out flyers, organize fundraisers, coordinate caravans — join us in Boston and Tampa.

We invite you to walk with us as we demand Ahold and Publix join with the CIW and with the Florida tomato industry to ensure human rights and dignity for the men and women whose backbreaking labor makes it possible for these stores to line their shelves with fresh produce and to make record-breaking profits year after year.

The transformation underway in our community has brought us stories of a new climate of respect in the fields; of parents telling us what it's like to walk their own children to school for the first time ever. These and many other changes that were unimaginable just a few months ago are starting to take root today.

But Ahold and Publix continue to stand in the way of more humane conditions in the fields by refusing to participate – instead callously dismissing the abuses we have faced in the fields and refusing to join nine other corporations in paying their fair share and conditioning their tomato purchases on the Fair Food Code of Conduct. Ahold and Publix threaten to blunt and undermine the progress we're making toward the end, finally, of the Harvest of Shame.

If you support the Campaign for Fair Food, if you support our dreams of a better world, you must join us and tell Ahold and Publix it's time to 
"Do the Right Thing!"

See you in Boston and Tampa!

– Nely and Silvia,
Coalition of Immokalee Workers