Farmworkers and their supporters march in Tampa

10/18/10 Kelly Benjamin
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Last Friday during rush hour, A group called Tampa Bay Fair Food organized a march from downtown Tampa to the Publix Greenwise Market in Hyde Park to protest Publix Super Market's policies regarding fair food practices and farmworker rights.

Fresh from their victory last week in reaching an agreement with Pacific Tomato Growers, one of the nation's oldest and largest tomato producers, dozens of Immokalee farmworkers traveled to Tampa on Friday to participate in a march for better wages from Publix. Around 80 people turned out for the march which began in Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa. Heather Vega is with Tampa Bay Fair Food. "This march has been organized to continue putting pressure on order that they reach an agreement with the CIW"

Several dozen local students joined with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on their march to Publix. Amanda Sliby explains why the Greenwise Market was chosen as the destination of the march. "Here I'm holding Publix's new Greenwise organic free trade brand of coffee" which claims to support fair trade practices, Sliby said.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has led a decade long campaign for labor reform in Florida''s tomato industry winning fair food agreements with Burger King, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Subway. But the fight with Publix for one penny more per pound of tomatoes has been bitterly fought.

"Publix to date has been very stubborn and they continuously find a reason as to why they are not responsible," Vega said.

The Coalition of Immokalee workers are currently engaged in a Southeastern tour with their Modern Day Slavery Museum, an educational exhibit that highlights the working conditions in the agricultural field and documents the recent slavery cases in South Florida. The next Tampa Bay area stop will be on October 30 at Circus McGurkis in St. Petersburg.

previous WMNF coverage of CIW

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