Nashville Fair Food Rocks the Annual Tomato Art Fest

Last Saturday, Nashville Fair Food converged on the annual Tomato Art Fest to talk with festival-goers and vendors about the new day farm-workers are experiencing in the fields of Florida, and how we can partner with them to transform the fresh vegetable industry for good.

10452375_10154540009195347_4026061441964345171_nWe engaged people with facts about the work that farmworkers do to bring tomatoes to our tables here in Middle Tennessee: guess how much you would get paid to pick a 32 lb. bucket of tomatoes (50 cents!) and how many buckets you would have to pick to make a minimum wage in a regular 8 hr. day (125, adding up to 2 tons!). 

tomatofestWe spread the word about the Fair Food Campaign that raises wages and establishes a code of conduct.

Publix customers signed and mailed over 50 post-cards calling on Publix to join the Fair Food Program!
10511275_10154540009665347_4310531539637355870_nIt was a good hot day to raise awareness about the hard work tomato pickers do in the Florida heat, and we are looking forward to reaching out to the contacts we made this year and being involved in the Tomato Art Fest next year!

Join the 2014 Nashville Fair Food Coordinating Committee!

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2014-2015 Local Coordinating Committee. Click here to apply!

Application deadline: August 18th

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General Roles & Responsibilities

The Local Coordinating Committee…

  • Educates, organizes and mobilizes support around the Campaign for Fair Food in their communities, neighborhoods, and networks;
  • Facilitates communication within the NFF network and between NFF and other networks, movements, and allies;
  • Helps NFF function effectively, democratically, and in accordance with its principles;
  • Actively fundraises to support local work and the larger Campaign for Fair Food;
  • In conversation with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and other national allies, helps to make decisions about NFF structure, campaigns and programs.
  • A term on the LCC lasts for one year. We seek a balance between Fair Food veterans and new participants to form a new committee each year.
  • We seek to be a committee that reflects Middle Tennessee’s diverse population, in terms of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, and geography.

 

Commitments and Expectationslogo-new-blog

LCC’ers commit to…

  • Participating in one coordinating meeting and one action (e.g. presentation, protest, bible study, etc.) each month (~8 hrs commitment per month). September 2014 – July 2015
  • Building leadership in their local communities and networks by sharing skills and campaign information from the Campaign for Fair Food and identifying and encouraging new participants.
  • Helping organize actions and events around the Campaign for Fair Food & documenting actions to share with the rest of the Fair Food network (by taking pictures/video, creating social media, contacting press and sending out press releases, etc.);
  • Seeking opportunities to build alliances by representing NFF at local and regional conferences, events and mobilizations, and building relationships of solidarity with other grassroots organizations;
  • Being creative! :)

 

As a Nashville Fair Food local coordinating committee  member, you will be part of a supportive team of committed organizers. Meeting the above commitments enables us to shape the movement that we are all seeking to create, one accountable to the CIW’s farmworker-led struggle. Click here to apply today! Contact nashvillefairfood@gmail.com for more information!

 

Nashville joined farmworkers to say to Publix: “Now Is The Time” for Fair Food!

Last week, nearly 200 Nashvillians welcomed farmworkers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Nashville and marched down West End to the Publix in Belle Meade, saying “Now Is The Time” that Publix join twelve other leading food corporations already within the Fair Food Program – including its competitors Walmart, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s – and sign a Fair Food Agreement with the farmworkers who pick the tomatoes from which Publix profits.

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It was truly an awesome sight for all of us at Nashville Fair Food to see so many expressions of support from Nashvillians young and old, students and workers, people of faith and community members, and many of whom had only just learned about Fair Food from the flyers and banners of the march – a reminder that Fair Food is spreading far and wide…

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As the Coalition of Immokalee Workers reminds us, this is a campaign led by farmworkers, but it is a campaign that includes everyone, since we are all connected to the food that we eat, albeit in very different ways.  Consumers, whether we shop at Publix or, indeed, at any supermarket, increasing no longer accept our food with ignorance of where it came from, buying with ‘no questions asked’ about the workers who produced it or, perhaps, its environmental impact.

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Soon, we are hopeful, Publix will no longer accept its tomatoes ‘no questions asked’ from the ever-shrinking unfair market for tomatoes in its home state, and will instead seek reconciliation with the farmworkers and their families on whom it has turned its back for so long.

These past few days have been a wonderful celebration of Fair Food — that, unfortunately, Publix chose not to join.  We in Nashville are planning another celebration for the day when Publix does join.

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We’ll see you then, if not before!

- All of us at Nashville Fair Food

March to Belle Meade Publix for Farmworker Justice on March 11!

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…and then joining CIW at Publix headquarters in Florida that weekend!

Join us Tuesday, March 11, 5:30pm:
Belle Meade Publix, 4324 Harding Pike

3:30pm:  Rally and start of march at West End United Methodist Church, 2200 West End Ave.
5:00pm:  Join us along the way at Vine Street Christian Church, 4101 Harding Pike
5:30pm:  Final picket and rally at Publix at Belle Meade

Now_is_the_timeThe Coalition of Immokalee Workers is going on tour to 10 cities to tell Publix that “Now is the Time” to join Fair Food and we want to welcome them to Nashville on March 11 with true Southern hospitality. (See the Facebook event.)

Then, we want to join the CIW at Publix headquarters in Florida on March 15th to take the call directly to Publix’s home turf for the tour’s culmination!

Your contribution to our travel will make it possible for a student or low-wage worker who would not be able to go otherwise to join the CIW in the culmination of the tour. (We’ve raised over $600 so far – can you pitch in to make it to $1000?)

If we want to join us on the caravan to Florida, let us know!

Print and copy the Nashville march flyer (y en español)!

An exciting evening of Fair Food…and CIW tour coming to Nashville for a massive march to Publix on March 11!

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(from left to right) Erica Gilmore, Nashville City Council representative, members of Nashville Fair Food, and Oscar Otzoy, CIW member

Oscar Otzoy of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (pictured above) joined us in Nashville on Monday for an exciting evening of discussion about the Fair Food Program and what is coming next in the campaign for Fair Food.

As we learned, the Fair Food Program has created, for the first time ever in the agricultural industry in the United States, worker-to-worker education sessions about rights in the fields.  In these sessions, led by the CIW in the presence of growers’ representatives as well as the direct supervisors of farmworkers, workers learn of their rights, including the right to be free from forced labor, the right to be free from sexual harassment, and the right to report abuses to the Fair Food Standards Council, the CIW, or to the grower.

In order to enforce these standards for human rights – such as ending forced labor, physical violence, and sexual harassment in the fields – we must, as consumers, call on all buyers to come on board with the program and ensure that there is no longer an unfair market for tomatoes.

Ending a history of sub-poverty wages also requires every buyer to contribute their penny-per-pound toward increasing farmworkers’ pay.  So Publix and Wendy’s – the time is now to do your part and join your competitors in the Fair Food Program!

In fact, more and more of Nashville is learning about Fair Food – so much so, that we think that the next step is for us to bring 500 of our closest friends and family together and march on Publix right here in Nashville!

The CIW is going on tour to 10 cities to tell Publix that “The Time Is Now” to join Fair Food (read more below) and we want to welcome them to Nashville with true Southern hospitality.

We’re working out the last-minute details as you read this email… Mark your calendars for March 11 – more details are coming soon!

P.S. If you want to join Nashville Fair Food in Florida for the tour’s culmination at Publix headquarters on March 15, share our online fundraiser to pay for our bus with your family and friends and then send us an email!

Join us for an evening of “Justice” with the Scarritt-Bennett Center!

You may have seen the news this week — Walmart, the world’s largest retailer — joined the Fair Food Program!

This is a tremendous victory that will bring even more of the tomato industry into the Fair Food Program, expanding human rights standards and contributing toward the penny-per-pound pay increase for over 30,000 workers!

Publix, what excuse do you have for holding out on the program now?

On Feb. 3rd, join farmworkers from the CIW to learn more in-depth about the groundbreaking advances that are being made right now in the fields of Florida.

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We’ll talk about what’s coming next in the campaign to bring Publix — the largest privately-owned grocery store in the U.S. and still has power to block progress in Florida fields — to the table and finally accept the new day in agriculture that Walmart has agreed to support but Publix has still refused to accept.

It’s time to take it to the next level – let’s bring a side of justice to Publix’s table.

(RSVP here with the good folks at Scarritt-Bennett!)
(And check out the Facebook event, too!)

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P.S. Download the flyer here!

“Publix Truth Tour” Arrives, Greeted by 100+ Middle Tennesseans!

ImageThis Monday, we welcomed the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Middle Tennessee with over 100 of us from Murfreesboro and Nashville!  A reunion for many, and an introduction for many more, members of the Coalition brought their truth about Publix’s tomatoes to consumers, people of faith, students, teachers, and workers of our community – who brought their energy and enthusiasm to Publix’s front doors.

ImageA special note on this event from Murfreesboro Fair Food:

Murfreesboro Fair Food, Tennessee’s second fair food committee, held their second peaceful protest with members of the CIW on this stop on the Publix Truth Tour.

We were so honored and thankful to have the tour stop in Murfreesboro, and were energized by the contagious spirit that came along with our traveling compañero/as. We’ve said from the beginning back in June, Murfreesboro is committed to fighting in solidarity with the CIW for justice in the fields, and we reiterated that stance this past Monday with new members and allies.

Coalition member Lupe led the charge on Monday, heading up the letter delegation and closing statements with words we will keep close to mind: we are planting seeds of consciousness. Consciousness of the plight of farmworkers will be sown into the hearts and minds of Publix, from the corporate office to individual stores, employees, and customers — and within the communities we help to build and strengthen in the Fair Food Nation.

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Following a picket at a Murfreesboro Publix store, we converged at Vine Street Christian Church for a solemn procession and vigil to a Publix store in Nashville:

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ImageAt the end, farmworkers and consumers together asked the Publix executives and mangers, waiting at the front doors, that Publix stop blocking the progress being made in the fields of Florida and join the Fair Food Program:

ImagePublix stuck to its untruths, however, insisting that the partnership between consumers, multi-billion-dollar food corporations, growers, and farmworkers was a “labor dispute.”

And we prayed for the hearts of Publix’s executives to change: their attempt to stay neutral really means that they support the sub-poverty wages, forced labor, and sexual harassment of the fields that are stuck in the past…

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But the relationships forged between consumers and farmworkers will continue to advance the call for Fair Food —

Image— and one day, perhaps after many more vigils, Publix will join the Fair Food partnership.

CIW touring Tennessee in 3 weeks!

Get ready for the Publix Truth Tour at the end of September!

Friends,

We’re sending this message on the way back from Immokalee, Florida, where a delegation from Tennessee was among the dozens of students and young people from Fair Food groups around the country meeting with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) for a 3-day “Encuentro” of community-building and planning for the upcoming year of Fair Food organizing.

It’s an exciting time to be working for Fair Food in Tennessee! We had an extraordinary summer of action, and now we’re gearing up for the CIW’s upcoming visit to Middle Tennessee on the weekend of September 28-30.

“Next Steps” Meeting:

6:30pm Monday, September 16th
West End United Methodist Church, Room 308

The CIW is hammering out their final dates and plans for the upcoming Publix Truth Tour, beginning in Gainesville, Florida on September 21 and travelling around the Southeast to celebrate the groundbreaking improvements for farmworkers occurring because of the Fair Food Program, as well as the story of Publix’s attempts to resist those changes, to communities throughout the Southeast.

Our meeting on September 16th will be focused on deciding how we want to welcome the CIW to Tennessee when they arrive during the weekend of September 28-30, and how to demonstrate to Publix that their expansion into Tennessee needs to be an expansion of human rights!

Local Coordinating Committee

We’re also excited to announce the upcoming launch of Nashville Fair Food’s new Local Coordinating Committee! As we grow, we need to share out the work and broaden our base of leadership, and we’re looking for ten people from different backgrounds in the city that would like to take up more responsibility as visionaries and organizers for the group. We want churchfolks, students, teachers, and workers; young and old: a group representative of our diverse local movement. Being on the coordinating committee means committing for 6 months to a once-a-month meeting, and to helping organize one monthly event and participate in shaping the vision and strategy for Fair Food in Nashville.

If you’re interested in being involved with the Local Coordinating Committee (or would like to nominate someone!), reply to this email. We’ll be recruiting and finalizing the committee in the coming months.

Looking forward to an exciting month of action!

(( View the full post-summer roundup email that was sent out to the list! ))

Consumers of Conscience Protest Publix in Support of Farmworker Justice as Part of Statewide Day of Action

As Publix Supermarkets expands into Tennessee, churchgoers, students hold actions in every city with a store across the state

1013971_10200999433082314_448798532_n1072444_632758890077360_949546322_oOn Saturday, fellow supports of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Fair Food Program held five actions accross the state in every major city in Tennessee where.

calling on Publix Supermarkets to join the Fair Food Program. Praised in recent months by both the White House and the United Nations, the Fair Food Program 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 fairer pay and respect for basic human rights for farmworkers working in Florida’s tomato fields.

The statewide actions build upon the strong support from the Tennessee faith community. Last month at their Annual Conference, the TN Conference of the United Methodist Church representing 600 churches across the state unanimously passed a resolution to call on Publix to join the Fair Food Program. In part, it stated:

“Since 2002, Publix has expanded into Middle Tennessee with more than 30 locations, making it one of Publix’s three most important target growth markets…Residents from across Middle Tennessee have joined with the CIW in insisting that Publix support human rights and dignity for the workers who pick the produce we eat.”

“The fight for fair food and justice in the tomato fields started by the CIW, and carried on in solidarity by Tennessee communities where Publix is expanding into, is bigger than all of us,” said Rachel Tyree, senior in Anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University, “It’s about basic human rights, and our responsibility to hold corporations like Publix accountable to those basic standards and rectify injustice. Publix’s expansion has to be an expansion of human rights.”

Despite the Fair Food Program’s unprecedented success in bringing about long-overdue human rights reforms in Florida’s $500-million tomato industry, Publix, one of the largest purchasers of Florida tomatoes, refuses to join the Program and continues to buy tomatoes from the handful of Florida growers where workers are denied access to the Fair Food Program’s higher standards, complaint mechanism, and “penny-per-pound” bonus.

This past month, the Roosevelt Institute selected the CIW for its prestigious 2013 Four Freedoms Award, in the company of laureates like Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Carter and Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama, and PBS Frontline featured the CIW’s work against sexual abuse in Florida agriculture as part of their hard-hitting documentary Rape in the Fields.

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THE COLOR OF SOLIDARITY IS GREEN: Nashville green groups accompany farmworker Nely in a beautiful, colorful march on Publix

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“We hold a deeper belief that our lives together can be, and should be, built on webs of human relationships with dignity for everyone.” – Mark Wingate, Transition Nashville

On Monday, an even stronger consensus was built in the Nashville community, with a number of green, environmental, and food-oriented community groups issuing a formal letter to Publix asking them to work with Florida farmworkers in their breakthrough Fair Food Program (FFP), which has been recently lauded by the White House, the United Nations, and an upcoming PBS Frontline episode as “the most successful program” in preventing forced labor conditions, “innovative”, and “unique in the country” (respectively). Over 50 members of Nashville Fair Food gathered at Vine Street Christian Church to accompany them in delivering the letter to a local Publix. However, the group first had the honor of receiving Nely, a Florida farmworker, and heard her speak about the human rights crisis in the American tomato fields. She spoke about the 1,300 individuals liberated conditions of forced labor, or what the FBI calls “modern-day-slavery”, as well as the extreme poverty and sexual harassment faced by women farmworkers, and why it is so crucial that we get Publix to come on board.

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The groups which called together the meeting were Community Food Advocates, Transition Nashville, the statewide environmental group SOCM’s social justice committee, Tennessee Alliance for Progress (TAP), and Good Food for Good People. Leaders in the green community, they decided to collectively sign a letter a deliver it to a Publix manager in Nashville, representing their thousands of members and constituents. As many of them pointed out, however, it wasn’t just those five groups that were on board with the campaign. From the coverage by the Nashville Scene on its food blog “Bites”:

“The green, food, and environmental groups which have endorsed the campaign in a letter being delivered today represent the broad feeling in Nashville’s entire green community that food cannot just be ‘good’, it also has to be ‘fair'”, says Audrey Jackson, a Tennessee native and undergraduate at Vanderbilt majoring in Environmental Science & Society, “That is why so many here in Nashville are moved to add their voice of conscience.”

This is a moment of great momentum for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the farmworker group which developed the Fair Food Program and has since brought eleven corporate buyers of tomatoes on board, such as McDonald’s and Publix-competitor Trader Joe’s. They have also integrated over 90% of Florida tomato farms in this tri-partite, co-operative relationship between farmworkers, growers, and corporate buyers.

Indeed, the national momentum is working its way down to the local level, too. We alluded in the beginning of this post that the green groups, by signing onto the Campaign for Fair Food, were building upon a growing consensus in the Nashville community. Let’s look at that a little closer. One example of this is the recent support that the faith community has extended to farmworkers: six hundred churches in the TN United Methodist Church voted in their Annual Conference overwhelmingly to endorse the call on Publix to join the Fair Food Program. The resolution stated:

“Since 2002, Publix has expanded into Middle Tennessee with more than 30 locations, making it one of Publix’s three most important target growth markets…Residents from across Middle Tennessee have joined with the CIW in insisting that Publix support human rights and dignity for the workers who pick the produce we eat.” Read the full resolution from June 11th.

This incredible statement of support didn’t come out of left field, though. For many in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, this issue is a no-brainer. It deeply reflects our city’s stated position as “a catalyst for racial justice movements, [with] a rich history of joining in struggles to ensure justice for all,” as the Nashville Metro City Council unanimously declared in a resolution from 2011. They continued, “It is fitting and proper that the Metropolitan Council recognize and welcome the CIW…and their efforts to bring to light the continued struggle against slavery.” Many, when told of Publix’s intransigence, are deeply confused, and angry. But we are also positive — believers that together, we can solve this problem.

After the presentation by Nely, as well as after hearing words from United Methodist Reverend Matthew Kelley, and Mark Wingate from Transition Nashville, we channeled that positive energy into a exciting march from Vine Street Christian Church to the Publix at Belle Meade about a ten minute walk away. It was one of most exciting and colorful actions yet!

Check out this photo report of the march:

The march begins!

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With our beautiful tomato bucket art and flags, we were seen by hundreds driving along West End!

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One of our biggest actions yet, there was lots of animo (excitement)! We sung and chanted the whole way: “J-U-S-T-I-C-E is what we want, from Nashville to Immokalee!”

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Finally we arrived at Publix! Waving never hurt nobody!

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A delegation of us moved forward to talk to the store manager and the executive that was present. When asked whether they would like to add to their statement that, quote, “If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business.” (Publix spokesperson Dwaine Stevens, 12/11/10), the store manager shook her head. The corporate executive stepped in, saying: “Our statement regarding this is on our website…We won’t add to that.”

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While the delegation met with Publix representatives, others formed a picket line to bring the issue to the attention of customers.

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Finally we received the delegation and heard their report-back about their short meeting with Publix representatives. “This is a problem that affects everyone at Publix, because it’s everybody’s business,” reported one of the delegation members, Alison Voit.

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We closed on a good note. “We know that one day, Publix will sign a Fair Food Agreement, and we’ll be here to celebrate the New Day which is dawning right now in the fields of Florida, and which Publix will one day expand even further.”

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“Up, up, with the fair food nation! … Down, down, with exploitation!”

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“EXPECTING GREATER THINGS” OF PUBLIX: TN Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church passes resolution calling on Publix to join the Fair Food Program!

TN United Methodists to Publix: “We lean on the teachings of Jesus and our church in standing with farmworkers in Florida.”

This announcement builds on the steadfast local support of Nashville area United Methodist Christians. It was an exceptionally thorough resolution, which included in detail a description of the human rights abuses that plague the tomato industry in Florida — like the more than 1,300 individuals liberated in the past 15 years from forced labor, or what the FBI calls “modern day slavery” — as well as a number of theological statements by United Methodists which moved them to support the Fair Food Program, which is filling the gap and making farmworkers lives better through a historic tripartie relationship between corporations, the growers, and the farmworkers themselves.

In the press release they put out, they state:

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 4.41.41 PMAs United Methodist Christians, we lean on the teachings of Jesus and our church in standing with farmworkers in Florida,” said Rev. Matt Kelley, chair of the Tennessee Annual Conference Board of Church and Society who sponsored the resolution. “Paying a penny more per pound of tomatoes seems like a small price to pay for living wages and just treatment of those who work so hard.”

The resolution…cited the ongoing work of the Coalition of Immakolee Workers, who work on behalf of farmworkers, and highlighted United Methodist Social Principles that call for living wages for all workers and cites the obligations corporations have not only to shareholders, but to the general well being of society.

“We decided to propose this resolution and bring this issue to the attention of the Tennessee Annual Conference because Publix has an ever expanding footprint in our area. We must be aware of what is happening in our backyard and stand up for what is right,” added Kelley.

Rev. Kelley is quite right in pointing out that Tennessee is an important pivot point in this struggle for human rights. The resolution itself puts it plainly:

“Since 2002, Publix has expanded into Middle Tennessee with more than 30 locations, making it one of Publix’s three most important target growth markets…Residents from across Middle Tennessee have joined with the CIW in insisting that Publix support human rights and dignity for the workers who pick the produce we eat.” Read the full resolution.

With their adroit articulation of the tenets of the Fair Food Program, TN United Methodists are showing that they understand this issue deeply. They also show, when the resolution quotes Publix, “If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business” (Publix spokesperson, 12/11/10), that they are puzzled by Publix’s spreading of falsehoods and aversion to real, meaningful dialogue. Don’t fret Tennesseeans — the 50 United Methodist Women from Alabama and West Florida who sent this following letter less than a week ago to Mrs. Carol Jenkins Barnett on the Publix Board of Directors clearly feel the same as you:

“Carol, please help Publix to do the ‘right thing,’ and become part of the solution to ending the human rights injustices in agriculture.
We’ve witnessed for three and a half years how Publix has justified its refusal to take part in the Fair Food Program by offering excuses it knows to be groundless. We call on you to direct Publix’s PR department to stop referring to the Fair Food Program as a “labor dispute.” That’s ridiculous in its insincerity. A groundbreaking collaboration among growers, retailers and farmworkers – which, for the first time ever, is cleaning up sexual harassment, wage theft, violence, lack of access to shade and water, and impoverishing wages – is as far from a labor dispute as you can get. Please don’t take Publix’s customers as fools.read more.

We’re seeing a real shift here, with United Methodists all around the country are uniting in support of Fair Food. The message they are sending is crystal clear: Publix, you’ve got to get with the program – the Fair Food Program, that is.

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Carrot Academy kids say: “A penny for tomatoes?!”

Today, we were excited to talk about the Campaign for Fair Food with the kids at the Carrot Academy, a six-week summer class for homeschoolers held at the Good Food For Good People urban garden in Nashville.

We asked them where their parents bought their tomatoes and many said they bought them from farms or grew them at home in their gardens.  The kids knew quite a bit about tomatoes, from what it means to vine-ripen tomatoes to how to pick them out in the garden and at the farmers’ market — but they did not know that most of the tomatoes produced in the United States come from south Florida near a town called Immokalee.

Kids at the Carrot Academy chop up tomatoes for lunch.

Kids at the Carrot Academy chop up tomatoes for lunch.

We showed them a 35-lb tomato bucket and asked how much they thought the workers who picked the tomatoes earned for that bucket.  They guessed: $1, $5, $10, $20, and $100 (!).

After learning what farmworkers really make for a bucket ($0.45 for each 35-lb bucket), we asked them to raise their hands if they thought that it was fair.  One kid looked shocked and said, “That’s so unfair!”  One boy suggested that workers must have to pick “a ton” of tomatoes in order to provide for their families.  (Indeed! Over 2 tons a day, we told him, in order to make a minimum wage.)

One very sharp kid knew that there was a big difference between what consumers pay at the supermarket and what farmers and workers are paid.  He asked about the farmers – how can they afford to pay more?  That’s a good point, we said, and so farmworkers are asking the supermarkets to pay a penny more per pound for their tomatoes.  “A penny!” one kid shouted. “That’s so little!”

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As their parents were starting to come in to pick them up, the kids and parents both were able to glimpse a bit of the new day for farmworkers that has come about in some of Florida’s tomato fields – and will eventually expand to even the fields and growers which Publix buys from and are not yet part of the Fair Food Program, with workers and consumers coming together for “good food for good people,” as our hosts would put it.

To these kids, a penny per pound was just so easy.  From what we heard, their parents agree.

Publix’s place in history

Today, “May Day”, is also known as International Workers’ Day. It was dedicated to four workers who were convicted in a show trial and hung in Chicago in 1886 for organizing the city-wide strikes in that city, demanding the 8 hour day. The fact that many of us only have to spend 8 hours at work, and then get 8 hours at home and (maybe!) 8 hours asleep — instead of 10 or 12 hours at work, as was customary at the time — we owe in part to these fellow workers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. After this tragedy, tradition has held that today is a day for us to reflect on the struggle of workers. Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the history that’s led us to the current moment in Campaign for Fair Food. What is Publix’s place in that story?

As one of my good friends once said: the denial of human rights to farmworkers isn’t a 2013 issue. Isn’t not even a 2000’s issue. It has long roots which we can trace back far into the past. We could even go back before the rise of industry that made mass agriculture possible, to the long history of exploitation of small farmers and peasants. Bob St. Peter of the US National Family Farm Coalition did this when he said “we won’t let the major corporations divide family farmers and farmworkers, because we know that that is a false division.” The 1,300 cases of modern-day-slavery in Florida in the past 15 years, the denial of basic labor rights to farmworkers, and the sub-poverty wages they’re paid aren’t flukes: before the 13 amendment (1865), people under the conditions of chattel slavery were the backbone of agricultural labor.

Yet Publix today finds itself in a unique position in this long, long history of exploitation. The precedent has changed with the dawn of the Fair Food Program, a tripartie relationship between major corporations, growers (large farmers), and the farmworkers themselves. Now, pay attention, because this isn’t a phrase that gets to be used very often: for the first time in human history, an industry-wide agreement written by the farmworkers, by those who were exploited, has been adopted by virtually an entire level of the industry: 95% of tomato growers in Florida have finally signed the Fair Food agreement. History has changed, Publix. The precedent has been set: if McDonald’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Subway, and 7 other major corporations were able to sign the agreement, why can’t you? The table is set, and an invitation to Publix has been sent out long ago.

Why can’t Publix look farmworkers in the eye? This question, issued from the lips of farmworkers who decided to stand up, has traveled very far. It’s traveled all the way to Nashville (854 miles!), a place where the struggle for civil and human rights also has a long history. Today, the exploitation taking place at the lunch counters of Publix is obscured by the flow of products from seemingly nameless places, created by seemingly nameless people, in a dazzling array of choice. But in our time, workers from Immokalee have stepped forward and said “Yo tambien soy humano / I, too, am human”, just like the workers and other regular people who fought for desegregation and equal wages for non-whites 50 years ago here in Nashville, and also in Memphis, in Birmingham, in Atlanta, and all over the South. The Immokalee workers, too, have brought to the struggle their friends in the student and faith communities, just like the students who sat in and the ministers who spoke out here.

The sit-in movement spread from Greensboro, North Carolina. Publix is opening its first NC store next year. Photo: Workers picket Woolworth’s for refusing to desegregate. 1960 Harlem, NY.

To me, it’s interesting that one of the centers of the struggle for justice, in both the Civil Rights Movement and the Campaign for Fair Food, has been (basically) lunch counters. The famous Greensboro and Nashville sit-ins for desegregation both began at Woolworth’s — the major 20th century supermarket. Woolsworth’s was the store then that Publix is today. Stores come and go, and Woolworth’s is mostly gone now, so the only thing I remember about it is its shameful history as a regional chain hiding behind lame excuses like “we are just respecting the local law of segregation”. Sound familiar, Publix? A regional chain claiming it is simply following the basic laws in place, without responding to the moral call for justice made by those that it is oppressing? In our time, when Publix responded that they would pay “a fair market price” for tomatos and refused to sign the Fair Food agreement, the faith community stood up and said “there is no fair market price for slavery.” People are standing up and telling Publix: you need to go above and beyond the minimum established laws, which are unfairly tilted against farmworkers. You’ve got to sign the Fair Food agreement.

Community members from Nashville and CIW members picket a Publix supermarket opening. April 10, 2013.

The cause of the CIW has been heard around the nation. Photo: More than 50 community members picket a Nashville Publix supermarket. April 10, 2013.

So why supermarkets? Why do they always put up such a fight? We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again: there’s something about food that demands equality. You cannot sit down at a table with your fellow human and break bread and continue to dehumanize them. You just can’t. It’s something about how people’s minds work. Maybe it is that, in the words of one local food organization, quote, “Everybody eats.” Whatever the reason, the result is that when a new precedent for justice is being set, there tends to be some conflict in public places of eating. It’s just a funny truth. These are the places where we know we need to establish the first, basic kinds of equality — that of sitting down together at the table and eating, talking, sharing. And like the Nashville students, we’ll get to taste that beautiful justice when Publix finally agrees, and sits down with farmworkers.

Students from across Nashville unite for dialogue with Publix!

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I have my own voice, I can use it.
And I have my own sound, I can raise it.
And all I have to do is to sing out,
Loud and clear: Hey I’m here! (listen)

I want to tell you about a delegation of Nashville students that met with local Publix representatives today. A few student and faculty representatives from groups at Vanderbilt University, Lipscomb University, and Middle Tennessee State university (MTSU) came to speak to a local Publix manager and tell them about why Nashville believes Publix needs to come to the table with farmworkers and sign the Fair Food agreement. We spoke of how Publix’s ongoing expansion into Tennessee wouldn’t be greet with the kind of reception they might want. Nashville is a place with its history rooted in the civil right struggle, and that was reflected in the reference by many of those in our delegation to the words of Martin Luther King, JR., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, in his letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963. Before you hear about how the delegation went, though, let’s think about why these students matter to Publix at all.

Publix maintains that “they are not in agreement with Fair Food”, but as we all know corporations sometimes base their logic and morals more on what they percieve to be the desires of their customers, rather than on a sober and subtle analysis of right and wrong, good and bad. Publix says that “[the Campaign for Fair Food] doesn’t resonate with our customers.” So while we call on the corporation to remember its founders’ words, “don’t let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing,” we also want to reach out to Publix consumers, and build a consumer movement to remind Publix that the customer is always right. We’ve learned from flyering and talking to many Publix customers that the moment that they really understand what’s going on — the harshness of the farmworkers’ reality and the demonstrated effectiveness of the Fair Food program in preventing abuses and improving lives — the majority of these customers do connect with the campaign’s message. Publix customers are good people, many with families. They do care about these Floridian farmworkers, and their families too.

The thing is, students aren’t the demographic that Publix is appealing to. We know that. Unlike the first few of the eleven corporations signatories to the agreement, like Taco Bell and McDonald’s, the Publix corporate / marketing team doesn’t have its ear attuned so much to the desires of students and youth — a group who have demonstrated their overwhelming commitment to the CIW and their work over the past thirteen years. That’s the reality. So why involve students in the Publix campaign?

This year began in activist circles at Vanderbilt University with a question: should student activists be primarily concerned with the students’ movement, or the workers’ movement? Over the previous school-year we had seen tens of thousands of average people — workers — flood the streets of the cities of this country in the Occupy movement and the subsequently re-invigorated labor movement with strikes at Walmart and fast food companies in New York, calling for economic equality in the face of a growing and appalling divide between the rich and the poor. Then we had watched students in the millions shutter their universities in mass student strikes and uprisings in Quebec, Mexico, and Chile to protest educational privitization, rising costs and de-funding. We came back to school a little shaken and excited, and asked that question.

Ultimately, who were we? Were we simply people in positions of relative privilege (in a country where 2/3 don’t go to college), and should we think of our power as this resting on these individual privileges?  Or were we people deeply rooted in the community, who could make waves by harnessing the diversity of our social networks? I think farmworker and CIW animator Gerardo Reyes gave me the answer when he said: “I think that we sometimes forget how powerful we are. Not just as a group, but as individuals. We all know people, who know people, who know people. We all can show the beauty of all this to other people.” He told us: we have to take account of our power both as individuals and as people naturally embedded in a social sphere, with mothers, fathers, friends, as well as fellow students and fellow workers.

So when we brought together a core committee of students from these three different universities in Nashville, we were looking to not just tell Publix that another small group of 15 people were on board with the campaign. That happens everyday in the meetings, presentations, and outreach we do. We were there to tell Publix that we were developing a deep commitment, on top of the consciousness we already had, to the Campaign for Fair Food.

We were telling them that, as regular young adults, we were powerful people. Publix may be looking to people with families as consumers: but we are part of families, too. We are part of many churches, synagogues and mosques. We have connections to high schools. We have personal connections to professors with enormous weight in our communities — like Lipscomb Spanish professor Ted Parks who accompanied us on this delegation. As university students, we live and study in a place that is intersection between many, many communities in modern America. We sit at the literal center of many of the towns and cities we live in. That’s no joke. There are more universities in Nashville, and we have friends at those too. Groups will form at those universities, too.

If Publix wants to continue its expansion from a two-state company, in Florida and Georgia, into a major regional player in states like Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, and South Carolina, they should know that we are quickly gaining steam in the game of who spreads there first. I think they know that. That’s why in the months after they ejected a minister, Reverend Clay Thomas, out of one of their stores as well as being caught saying that they “don’t agree” with “Fair Food”, as well as the moving and jubilant (but also very serious) 200-mile march this spring, we have seen Publix trying out a different PR approach. They have been kinder towards us, actually listening to us — instead of, for instance, stopping us at the property line and demanding our letter. This allows for us to have at least moments of real dialogue — although awkward seeing as their corporate division continues to spread falsehoods.

In this delegation, that was very apparent. They all spoke individually, as well as listened as all 15 of us spoke of our commitment to the Campaign for Fair Food. Then something happened which I’ve never seen happen before: instead of briskly walking off, they shook our hands. In this photo you can Nashville Publix District Manager Felix Allen and the store manager of the Publix at Marketplace at Maryland Farms shaking hands with march-attendee and Vanderbilt student Audrey Jackson:

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The force of that positive energy was moving for many of the students who participated in the delegation. As we grouped up and talked about it afterwords, this was what was on everyone’s minds. As one student put it, “I’m amazed by how we were abled to bring back the CIW’s positive energy from Florida to here. That’s the way the Campaign for Fair Food is spreading here, and it’s so beautiful not even Publix can ignore it forever.” One day Publix will shake hands with the farmworkers at the table of dialogue, too.

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CIW features Nashville actions in another national update!

Their update nicely recaps both actions we did with the CIW members and allies who came up from Immokalee over the last week. The other beautiful thing about their visit was how many visits we got to do with local university students and faith groups. These meetings were exceptionally fun, will large attendences and a lot of interest from new allies which will be joining us in the coming months.

They write,

“Now, perhaps Publix thought that with a few ribbon-cutting ceremonies and billboards promising shopping pleasure, consumers would welcome them with open arms. Unfortunately for Publix, however, there’s a large and growing population of southerners who recognize oppression when they see it, and they know what to do when injustice comes to town.”

Read the full writeup on the CIW’s front page!

VIDEO: The Florida march’s enthusiasm spills over into Nashville! CIW visiting on Wednesday, invites community to join two events!

Ministers and members of 6 churches, members of the Jewish community, as well as students from two universities and members of two workers’ organizations gather to tell Publix: if you want to be here in TN, you have to sign that Fair Food agreement!

Over the past six months Nashville Fair Food has been working to build interfaith connections and bring the many communities in Nashville together in a broad community of love, to support the CIW and their Campaign for Fair Food. That long work paid off in a joyous and colorful action yesterday at the Belle Mead Publix. Fifty of us came together on a Saturday to tell Publix to get out of the way of the new day that is becoming a reality for farmworkers in Florida. It’s no surprise that such an outpouring of love is happening in Nashville, naturally spurred on by the love and joy from last month’s 200-mile March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food. Over two dozen Nashville allies were present for the march in durations lasting from a day to the whole two weeks (!), and many of them were back together again yesterday to bring back the call for justice made at the headquarters of Publix in Lakeland, FL all the way to Nashville, TN, echoing our city’s history of civil rights struggle.


CIW coming to visit!

The farmworkers from the CIW are so impressed by our efforts here that they are coming to visit Nasvhille this Wednesday! And coincidently while they are here, Publix will be opening a new store in Nashville. Join us to greet them at one of two events this Wednesday!

Publix Grand Opening Protest
6:30 – 7:30am, Wed April 10
The Crossings Publix
2324 Lebanon Pike
Nashville, TN 37214

Too early for you? Then meet with CIW members on Vanderbilt Campus that afternoon for…

A discussion on “Rights, Respect and Fair Food”
4:00 – 5:00pm, Wed April 10
Vanderbilt University
Rand Hall rm. 308
( Rand Hall is near the intersection of Vanderbilt Pl. and 24th Ave. S., near Alumni Lawn. Campus map )

Plus…
BONUS photos from yesterday’s action!

It was a fun action, with a bunch of new and smiling faces. On the left here is Fred Arce, who travelled all the way from Alabama to participate in this action with his wife and daughter!

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Speaking of how Publix refuses to “look us in the eye” (the words of a minister from last year’s week-long fast), check out how they refuse to speak with us inside their store and will only meet with our delegations far out of sight — is it possible that they are afraid of customers looking us in the eye as well?

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We gathered to hear words from Albina Bustamante of Workers Dignity/Dignidad Obrero, Will McColumn from Vanderbilt University, Kate Savage with Nashville Fair Food, Jared Ruark, clergy at Brooke Meade UCC, and Dr. Judy Cummings, pastor at New Covenant Christian Church. Albina, Will, and Kate were all at the march in Florida last month and shared stories from it, while Mr. Ruark and Dr. Cummings spoke about how faith guides them to stand with the CIW and for the Fair Food agreement.

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Thanks to all the Nashville Fair Food members who produced the beautiful art for the action!

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Beautiful enough for the daughter of Rabbi Kliel Rose and Cantor Dorit Kosmin to hold two!!

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We’re home from the march — and ready to keep moving!

marchAfter 200 miles and fifteen days, the Nashville contingent of the March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food is back — and ready to keep moving!

Join us Saturday April 6th, 1-2:30pm as we gather in front of the Belle Meade Publix (4324 Harding Pk., Nashville TN). We will share some of the most powerful moments from the March, and call on Publix one more time to sign the Fair Food Agreement!

100 miles into the March, Gerardo Reyes, a farmworker from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers told us: “Many of us did not go to school, but we are architects. Architects of a new reality

That new reality, the reality we tasted on the March, is one where all work has dignity. It’s a reality buzzing with song and dance and vibrant art. And it’s forged with the friendship and mutual support between workers, students, and people of faith.

Nashville Fair Food is doing it’s part to build that new reality.

On the March, the 25-person Nashville team not only walked — we also played core roles with the Medic Team (washing and bandaging hundreds of feet!), coordinating the support vehicle fleet, pitching in with the media and security teams, and adding our songs, chants, and Nashville energy to the long line of marchers. The friendships we formed with farmworkers, students, and faith leaders from around the country will help sustain us in the work ahead.

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Perhaps the most exciting moment on the March for us was the arrival of a crew from Workers’ Dignity (Nashville’s low-wage workers’ center) for the final weekend. Just like Workers’ Dignity, the CIW began in a small room, as workers joined together to defend their human rights and end the abuses they face every day. Now, twenty years later, we were witnessing how this act could blossom into a colorful, vibrant movement, as 1,500 marched together to Publix headquarters.

As Oscar Otzoy, a farmworker and CIW organizer, put it in a video message he sent to Nashville workers the week before their trip to join the March: “We’re aware of your struggle. It’s our struggle too.”

April 6th, let’s support their struggle and our struggle — let’s build together the new reality of Fair Food and dignity in the workplace!

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For a full report-back from the March, and to see some powerful videos and photos, go here: http://www.ciw-online.org/march/

Reflecting on Rights, Respect, and Fair Food

Photo essay by Zach Blume with Nashville Fair Food
(Reposted from SFA@Vandy blog)

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Why the struggle, why the strain?
Why make trouble? Why make scenes?
Why go against the grain?
Why swim upstream?
Nothing changes anyhow. – “Nothing changes” by Anaïs Mitchell (listen)

I’ve been on the march for three days now with the Coalition of Immoaklee Workers (CIW). It is tiring in the Florida sun. Think of the last time you spent eight hours in the sun — now multiply that by 14 days, constantly walking the whole time. People are already getting blisters. There have been laughs among runners that it’s much easier on our bodies to run a half marathon than to walk one everyday. The consistency wears on you. That’s what we’re up against.

By the end of these two weeks, and over 200 miles from where we started, we will arrive to Publix’s headquarters in Lakeland, FL on the CIW’s “March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food” in order to ask them — once again — to come to the table with farmworkers in dialogue.

This is a defining moment for the CIW. Are we going to win? This is one of the largest actions they’ve ever done. The farmworkers are determined beyond belief. The spirit here is captured in a common joke. Someone at the front of the march shouts in spanish, “Are y’all tired?” The workers response is simple: “What is tired?”

There’s a latin american tradition of speaking about organizing for social justice as a process of “walking together”. Even our word in English for it: a movement. There is something about the idea of traveling that helps us think about making the world better while working with others. Walking through problems, accompanying each other through hardships in order to build a better world, and especially the foundation of it all: learning and thinking about each other and ourselves. Marching for hours a day has given me time to think, time to reflect. Why are we marching? What do we want? We say the march is for “Rights, Respect, and Fair Food.” What exactly are these concepts to us?

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RIGHTS: A new day is dawning in the fields of Florida for 100,000 farmworkers because of the Fair Food Agreement. With the implementation of the Fair Food program with 95% of growers signing the agreement and working with the Fair Food Standards Council, there now is a a source of worker-to-worker education on workers’ rights, anonymous reporting systems for abuses, and a 3rd party investigative apparatus, as well as a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and discrimination.

For an industry in which 1,300 people have been freed from conditions of modern-day slavery in the last fifteen years (read more about the CIW’s anti-slavery campaign), these large-scale adjustments are necessary. The heart of the matter, though, is in the day to day lives of farmworkers. They now do not have to overfill buckets until they break their backs. They actually get access to fresh drinking water, breaks, and moments of shade from the sun. They can get up at more reasonable times in the morning, and maybe see their children at breakfast and off to the bus-stop.

Now, Publix stands in the way of this progress. If Publix gets their way — the buying and selling of tomatoes with no industry standards for human and workers’ rights, all of the changes just described would be in jeopardy. If Publix continues buying tomatoes without coming to the table with the farmworkers who pick them, there will continue to be growers who, for whatever reason, don’t appreciate the Fair Food agreement and who nevertheless will still have the unscrupulous buyer of Publix to offload their unethical tomatoes onto. We’re marching on Publix because it stands in the way of the march towards justice that is going on right now in the fields.

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RESPECT: I am particularly struck by what one farmworker said to me. “If you ask most people here in Immokalee, they will tell you that they don’t like being farmworkers. But it is because of the way they are treated — not the job they do. Most of us grew up with the land, and we love taking care of it, and harvesting it.” To me, this is profound. The discourse we typically have around “helping others” or even “helping ourselves” is usually based around changing the nature of what they do, what their lives are about. Here though, the CIW is saying: we do important jobs. We do good jobs, ones that should give us dignity through fair work but also through our connection with the land and with other people. You can see it in the way that the farmworkers march: with humility, but also with pride. They are important people, too. This isn’t just about dollars per hour and pennies per pound. We’re fighting for a better world, one in which everyone is valued. The question is, how do we truly respect them?

This respect is captured in the way that students and farmworkers work together. In the struggle for justice in the fields, the CIW have built incredible ally networks — and they’ve done it by showing community members, people of faith, and students the beauty that comes from farmworkers standing up for themselves, not from other people speaking for them. They’ve also convinced us that we have personal stakes in their fight, that we too will benefit from a world with corporations that are held accountable to workers and consumers. I’m one of the people they’ve convinced, as a student from Nashville, Tennessee.

Thirteen years ago, on the “March for Dignity, Dialogue and a Fair Wage” (note the similarity in names), many students found themselves marching alongside farmworkers. They themselves reflected on what they could do support the workers more generally, after the march was over. Those students were so inspired they went and founded the Student / Farmworker Alliance (SFA).

I’m excited to see what this march produces for SFA. The energy from students here is powerful, with words like “moving”, “inspirational”, and questions like “what will our lives be like after the march?” I envision a new burst of energy and organizing that expands our resonance and the movement. This is what Publix should really be scared of: this is not only a wakeup call to them, but also a new beginning for us. And it’s going to be beautiful.

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FAIR FOOD: The march has been an experience in uniting. Unity, unity is the word that gets repeated. We walk together, we eat together, we sleep on the floors of churches together. What does this have to do with fair food? For me, food has always been the way that I connect with people. The idea of being friends with someone is all about eating lunch with them.

Fair food is about reclaiming that bit of humanity, and holding it close. It’s about reaching across the lines of class, race, language, religion and gender along with the CIW and allies and doing something different, something extra-ordinary. Walking 200 miles with strangers, and growing close with them, seems to me like an amazing way to do this.

One day, then, Publix will join us at the table — to talk about signing the agreement, but I hope also to eat with us and share a bit of humanity — and make this world a little more united. Things do change, all the time, and question is whether we can push that change is a direction of unification. That is the heart of fair food for me, and that is why I am here marching.

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In the next 14 days, I’m sure there will be more stories to tell. Until then, let’s leave it at this: Publix, here we come!

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Updates & Going to Florida! – from Student/Farmworker Alliance@Vanderbilt

(cross-posted at SFA@Vandy blog)

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TWO MORE PICKETS: We’ve been picketing the local Wendy’s on West End every Friday. We’ve held two more weeks of these “Fair Food Fridays” actions since Valentine’s day, and we plan on continuing to do so after we come back from this week’s spring break.

FUNDRAISING: We raised over $2,000 to get 30 people down to the CIW march! Fifteen students from Vanderbilt are going for the first whole week, and at least 15 workers and allies are going down from Workers Dignity Project for the final weekend.

THE MARCH: Members of SFA@Vandy and the community group Nashville Fair Food are going down to the march (the march website is cool, check it out!). We’ll be taking pictures and writing about our experiences and posting them up here and at the NFF blog. Keep checking back for more!

RIGHTS OF SPRING”: This year’s “rites of spring” music festival will be preceded by a week of multi-group human rights education, awareness raising, and action around anti- modern day slavery issues. We are going to build on this new energy on Vanderbilt’s campus to build pressure on Wendy’s and Publix to ensure justice in the fields by signing the Fair Food Agreement, which includes a “zero tolerance” clause for Floridian growers caught using slave labor, as has happened to 1,300 people since 1997.

Nashville congregations and student organizations support Florida farmworkers in the days before the March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food!

faith leaders mtg

Last night, clergy from four Nashville congregations and representatives of five others, as well as representatives from two university Student/Farmworker Alliance groups and other community groups, gathered to deliver this message to Publix Supermarkets:

“Here in Nashville, our most valuable heritage is the faith that all people deserve self-determination and economic justice. Part of our work of keeping that heritage alive in our congregations, schools and neighborhoods, is to support the Campaign for Fair Food.”

We first gathered at West End United Methodist Church to discuss the importance of this campaign to Nashville, make upcoming plans, and say farewell to the twenty workers, students, and community leaders from Nashville who will be joining the CIW for a portion of the march. We also heard from Willie Baptist and John Wessel-McCoy, visiting us from the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. John and Willie, both long-time supporters of the CIW, work to connect movements of the poor and dispossessed, with the mission to “raise up generations of religious and community leaders committed to building a movement to end poverty, led by the poor.” Their message of the importance of cross-pollination between movements led by the poor and dispossessed was particularly poignant, as members of Nashville’s low-wage workers center Workers’ Dignity prepare to march alongside the CIW.

Willie Baptist, a formerly homeless father who came out of the Watts uprisings and the Black Student Movement, with 40 years experience of organizing with the poor, also knows what it’s like to do farmwork. He told us that as a child he harvested cotton in Texas, and of all the difficult and painful jobs he has had since then, none of them match the trauma of that kind of labor.

Willie shared with us his thoughts about the most important strategy of the CIW: to break the stereotypes many have of the poor and dispossessed. What the CIW is teaching us, he said, “is that the poor can think for themselves. The poor can speak for themselves. And the poor can fight for themselves.”

We then caravaned down the road to Publix Supermarkets. There we were greeted by a familiar face: a representative from Publix’s corporate HR office, their “labor relations specialist.” He had flown all the way from Lakeland, FL, just to tell representatives from Nashville’s churches and synagogues that they couldn’t come inside the store.

Publix’s corporate representative quickly disappeared, and from the sidewalk in front of the store, we were able to speak with a Publix manager and deliver our letter. We told him that we are aware that Publix is expanding rapidly throughout middle Tennessee, and that as part of welcoming them to our community, we would like to emphasize the values of social and economic justice we hold dear here in Nashville. We told him that we hope their expansion through Tennessee soon brings with it an expansion of human rights in their supply chain.”

 

 

The Fight for Fair food received support Monday night from:

Dr. Rev. Judy Cummings (New Covenant Christian)
Rabbi Kliel Rose
Cantor Dorit Kosmin
Rev. Brian Rossbert (Dalewood UMC)
Willie Baptist and John Wessel-McCoy (Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary)
Jared Ruark (Brentwood UCC)

And lay leaders of:

West End UMC
Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom
First Unitarian Universalist
Nashville Friends’ Meetinghouse
Amos House Church

As well as representatives from:

Economic Empowerment Coalition of Vanderbilt Divinity School
the Student/Farmworker Alliance at Vanderbilt University
Nashville Peace and and Justice Center
OUR Vanderbilt
Workers’ Dignity

Whew! What a crew!

Student/Farmworker Alliance at Vanderbilt pickets Wendy’s

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The last Friday just after this Valentine’s day, two dozen students from Vanderbilt university — along with community allies — picketed a local Wendy’s, asking the corporation to sign the Fair Food agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Wendy’s is well aware that they are the only one of the five largest fast food corporations in the US not to be a part of the Fair Food program. In fact, two weeks ago we delivered a letter to the very same Wendy’s location while in 40 other cities people did the same. That time we had a good talk with the local manager, who supported our message. Our job now is to continue making sure the rest of community knows just how unethical the larger corporation’s ingredient sourcing is, too. Nashville consumers won’t stand a company that refuses to be in dialogue with farmworkers. We are asking Wendy’s to come to the table and help end poverty and abuse in the tomato fields of Florida by signing the agreement.

580743_488901544500308_9403979_nWe marched together for about an hour and a half during the busy rush hour on 21st Avenue, chanting and dancing in a tidy circle on the sidewalk in front of the business. Heart-shaped picket signs, red and pink, and Valentine’s chants brightened the mood and reminded us of the possibly of a resolution to this struggle: attraction, dialogue, and love between the corporation and the farmworkers. It’s possible if Wendy’s doesn’t spurn our advances!

Enthusiastic passerby’s cheered, took our leaflets, engaged in conversation, and honked their horn.  “I won’t be eating here again,” said at least three Vanderbilt employees of different positions, foreshadowing the way that Wendy’s unethical reputation will certainly spread throughout the university community and beyond. We’ve seen it happen before with other unscrupulous corporations in our tight-knit neighborhood, and we’ll see it happen again.

To complete our little Valentine’s day theme, we sang a little song. Precious and Tristan, two lovely members of SFA@Vandy and Nashville Fair Food respectively, rewrote the theme song to Dawson’s creek:

So open up your heart tonight and accept a little oversight.
You know that if we are to stay alive, we gotta treat farmworkers right.

I don’t wanna wait for our lives to be over. I wanna know right now if you agree.
I don’t wanna wait for our lives to be over. Just make fair food and grant farm-
workers…equality.

Oh can’t you see. All people have dignity. Tomatoes come from Florida.
They’re so flavorful. They’re so ripe and juicy.
But farmworkers deserve one more cent a pound.
Oh, will you put some fairness in your burgers?

(You can see the video of us performing that here on facebook.)

We know that organizing, educating and learning together, and speaking across the divides which separate us from each other is incredibly important. Those actions form the foundation of where our power to enact justice comes from: united consumers with united farmworkers. Public demonstrations adds to that — by doing so we gain the ability to manifest that energy, that power, to send a message directly to Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick: we are not going away. In fact, we never went away — not since the last time he went through this, starting thirteen years ago when he himself was the CEO of Taco Bell! Taco Bell was the first corporation asked pressured by the CIW and allies to sign the agreement, after demonstrations, a painful boycott, and student hunger strike. Taco Bell signed the Fair Food agreement after consumers pressure, and so will Wendy’s. The only question is: how long will Wendy’s stall?

So we decided: let’s “up the ante” here in Tennessee. During the action, Vanderbilt students voted unanimously to begin picketing Wendy’s near the university regularly, once a week, every friday. We’re calling it Fair Food Fridays.

The picket ended with a cheery (for us) but ominous (for them) chant:

“Let’s tell Wendy’s what they already know! We’ll be back! We’ll be back! We’ll be back!”

See you this upcoming Fair Food Friday, Wendy’s!

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Churches to Publix: Come to the Thanksgiving Table!

People Over Profit

Two members of the Nashville Friends Meeting picket before delivering their hand-written letters supporting Fair Food to a Publix District Manager

For Thanksgiving, Nashville Fair Food teamed up with three local churches to tell Publix that Nashville supports dignity and fair wages for farmworkers. Taking time out of their last-minute Thanksgiving shopping, members of the Nashville Friends meeting, West End United Methodist Church, and Amos House came out to the Belle Meade Publix to meet with District Manager Ken Jelonek and let him know that their congregations want to see Publix sign a Fair Food Agreement with the CIW before Publix continues expanding in Tennessee.

This last week, the Nashville Friends meeting, representing 125 members, unanimously approved a minute in support of the Fair Food Campaign, and hand-wrote personal letters to the local Publix manager asking her to support better working conditions for the farmworkers who pick the produce they sell.

The Nashville Friends’ statement cited the Biblical admonition that “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt. 24:40) — and while they do some of the most difficult and important work in the US economy, when it comes to labor conditions and protected rights farmworkers are indeed often treated as “the least of these.”

Seven members of the Nashville Friends meeting came along on the delegation to Publix today and read the last line of their statement to the assembled managers: “Nashville Friends Meeting holds up the struggle of CIW in the Light of God’s Love. We call on all corporate buyers of winter-crop tomatoes to join us in saying ‘NO’ to slavery and abuse by signing the Fair Food Agreement.” Bill Wolfe from the Friends Meeting began the delegation by saying that their church had been praying that Publix’s heart would be softened — after which the District Manager cut him off, saying that he had heard enough and the meeting was over. But the church representatives didn’t back down, insisting that they be allowed to pass on the message they had promised their congregations to deliver — and the managers reversed course, standing and listening while the other members of the delegation said their piece. Supporters rallied, picketed on the sidewalk, and talked with Publix customers while the church representatives delivered their message.

Nashville Quakers at Publix

Seven representatives from the Nashville Friends Meeting assemble to invite Publix to support Fair Food

Afterwards, several of those who went on the delegation entered the supermarket to purchase tomatoes and leave an extra penny-per-pound with the cashier as a testimony of their willingness as customers to join with workers to challenge abuse and poverty in the fields — and as an invitation to Publix to do the same.

Phyllis from West End United Methodist Church shows the tomato she purchased from Publix after our delegation (she paid an extra penny for it)

We look forward to continue working with the Friends, Methodists, Amos House, and other congregations to show that here in Nashville, we stand with farmworkers!

(see the whole album of photos from the action here and watch the CIW’s great new Thanksgiving video “A Tale of Two Thanksgivings” here)

See you next month!

Pride, Publix, and Fair Food

by Kate Savage, with Nashville Fair Food

Saturday, August 18th we wrapped up our Summer of Fair Food. A larger group than we’ve had yet gathered at the Belle Meade Publix. We picketed and sang and shared information with Publix customers. It was, perhaps, our liveliest demonstration yet.

Once again, Mike VanDervort flew in from Publix Headquarters. This time, when we asked him and other managers what they would like us to tell allies in the Fair Food movement, they were silent. “No comment.” Apparently, they were a little too honest last month, when they told us Publix was “not in agreement with fair food.”

So, while Publix stonewalls, we did some math.

CheapOair is listing the best price for a flight from Tampa to Nashville and back, economy class, at $300. So even assuming that Mr. VanDervort doesn’t get any special business class perks (or private jets), and ignoring the costs of hotels, that’s enough money to pay the extra penny premium for 30,000 pounds of tomatoes. Or about a thousand buckets, one thousand buckets carried by actual people, in the heat of the Florida day, for wages that have remained stagnant since the seventies. Usually Publix sends us two managers from Florida, so that can be doubled.

Instead of conceding to the needs of farmworkers’ demands, Publix, month after month, forks out the cash to fly out their VanDervorts to tell us “We don’t agree with fair food.”

At a certain point, it becomes clear this isn’t about economics–Publix has said themselves they’re not hung up on the cost. It is, rather, an issue of pride. Publix doesn’t want a direct relationship with the workers on the bottom rung of the supply chain. They want to pay people who pay people who pay people who do that. They do not want anyone drawing the connection between the desperation and pain in the labor that produces what they sell, and their final profits.

“It’s not our place,” they say in their official response to the CIW, posted on their website. Our place, they would like to say, is in the hallmark-card, nostalgia-drenched commercials we put on the television. Our place is in the bright and cheery-faced surface of a supermarket. We go no deeper, bear no wider responsibility for what happens to get all of these products in our hands.
Sure, our headquarters might be in the same agricultural region known as “ground-zero for modern day slavery,” but even still, our place is an air-conditioned corner office, not the stifling tomato fields surrounding it, and whatever messy work happens there.

Ultimately, what Publix doesn’t want is low-wage workers making any of the rules–and the power to make a few of the rules is, more than anything, what fair food is about. This is why, fundamentally, Publix “disagrees with fair food,” no matter how much fair trade coffee they stock in their upscale locations. Real fair food isn’t just a marketing gimmick, and justice can’t be relegated to the specialty shelf. Real fair food means allowing the most disempowered in the food supply chain to have a little bit of that power back. Just enough power to say that if a farmer disregards farmworkers’ rights–sexually abuses them, steals wages, enslaves them–Publix won’t buy tomatoes from them anymore. Not out of the kindness of some CEO’s heart, but because they’ve made a contract, and promised those workers that they’ll back them up.

The fall is coming, and will bring its own new bounty of action. Students are pouring back into town. Several of us are going to Immokalee in mid-September, to meet with coalition members and set out our next phase of a nation-wide strategy.

We will be stepping up, and moving forward, and we expect to see all of you there with us at the next demonstration, and the one after that. Until Publix realizes that the era of easy irresponsibility is over, in Nashville, and in Immokalee, and in every store in between.

Publix Rep: “We Are Not in Agreement with Fair Food.”

Nashville Fair Food, in solidarity with Florida farmworkers, challenges corporate irresponsibility.   

“We are not in agreement with fair food.” That’s what Publix’s spokesman Mike VanDervort told us after our picket in front of their Belle Meade supermarket in Nashville today. Other than that he refused to tell us who he was (or anything else), except that he had flown in from Publix corporate headquarters in Florida to watch our protest and prevent us from talking to our local store managers.

The students, church members, and youth in our delegation looked at each other with surprise. We had spent the last hour talking with the neighboring businesses and Publix customers as they arrived to shop, and literally every single person we talked to had said that they support Publix signing the Fair Food Agreement with the workers who pick Publix’s produce. Even the woman in the upscale consignment shop next door who initially greeted me with a skeptical “who pays you to protest?”, after ten minutes of hearing about recent Southwest Florida slavery cases and how the Fair Food Agreement works, said she would take a letter to the manager of her local Publix in Goodlettsville and urge him to sign the Fair Food Agreement. And now, Mike was telling us exactly what would shock his customers the most: the truth that Publix is prepared to hold out and block the entire industry-changing Fair Food Program from going forward.

At our last picket, in June, Publix had sent two managers from corporate headquarters, including Mark Codd, their head of labor relations. This month, we counted no less than 7 different managers milling around watching the protest, at least two of them executives from headquarters in Central Florida. Obviously, Publix is becoming increasingly agitated as their customers learn about the Fair Food program and question Publix’s plans to expand throughout Middle Tennessee while doing everything they can to keep Florida’s farmworkers impoverished and powerless.

The picket started with rain, but about fifteen community allies came out to chant, sing, and march together. Just after we began to walk the sidewalk and pass out flyers to curious customers, the clouds broke and the sun came out. That’s exactly the kind of bright turnaround we’re hoping to see from Publix. If not, we’ll be back next month.

Nashville Fair Food Catches Publix’s Attention

Katy Savage and Nashville Fair Food

Publix’s brass apparently knew we were coming, with enough advanced notice to fly out two higher-ups from corporate headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. It took a little digging to be sure, because the green-tie-wearing curmudgeon they had running interference between our picket and the supermarket entrance only introduced himself as “Mark.” When we asked if he was based in Nashville he responded sharply, “And why would you want to know?” His jaw clenched, and I found myself trying to tell him: “Don’t be mad at me–this is just about farmworkers having some basic power in their lives.” None of us had woken up hoping to ruin Mark’s day.

Publix’s corporate rep refusing to let us deliver our letter to the store manager.

This is Mark Codd, Publix’s “manager of labor relations”, and the supermarket’s go-to man for busting unions and undermining the efforts of workers organizing for dignity and a living wage. He walked up to me while I was fliering:

“So, I understand that you’re going to try to end this little demonstration with a delegation to the manager.” Typically at demonstrations, a group of representatives from different faith groups and organizations deliver a letter expressing their concern to the manager. These delegations can be powerful, but are typically uneventful.

“We haven’t discussed yet what we’d like to do,” I answered.

“Okay. Well, we’re not going to be doing a delegation today,” Mark declared.

“We’re not?”

“Yeah, we’re not going to do that.” The half-dozen city police brought in by Publix for the event seemed to agree.

The pre-demonstration anxiety I always feel (what if nobody comes? what if the experience feels hopeless and unpleasant?) gave way as I saw the group of extraordinary people who came. Young folks from Vanderbilt Fair Food; new friends from Occupy Nashville, and seasoned campaigners from the Peace and Justice Center. What brought them is a sense that the war being waged for fair food in the rural areas of Florida–”ground zero for modern-day slavery,” as one federal prosecutor put it–has one of its most crucial battlegrounds right here in Nashville. Publix executives, who have refused to sit down with farmworkers to work out a deal guaranteeing basic human rights and improved wages, are also hoping to build dozens of new Publixes right here in Middle Tennessee.

All of this means Nashville is supposed to be brimming with eagerly-awaiting customers. Not demonstrators concerned over labor conditions in the fields where Publix sources their tomatoes. Our chants of “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” are so many little pins bursting their bubbles. At our picket in front of Publix in April, corporate headquarters had dispatched one rep to keep an eye on us. It was an encouraging sign that our actions in Nashville mattered, and we doubled our numbers for our demonstration in June. Hundreds of Nashvillians have pledged their support for the campaign, insisting that if Publix wants to expand in our backyards, we’ll hold them to a basic standard of responsibility. We talked to clerks and customers in all of the local shops neighboring Publix in this swanky Nashville suburb of Belle Meade, and received unanimous support when we explained why we were there–with some even offering to validate our parking for the next time we returned!

Perhaps that explains the extra edge of tension from Publix’s two corporate representatives, as well as the police officers who they seemed to have coached beforehand with Publix’s talking points. (We even heard a police sergeant repeating a tired old Publix line about how they aren’t involved in this ‘labor dispute.’) As their company’s brand has become associated with a unwillingness to end human rights abuses in their own backyard, they dump tremendous amount of time and resources into surveilling and following around individuals involved in the Campaign for Fair Food.

Publix’s response is especially ironic considering the family-friendly image Publix promotes to the consuming public, and given that what they are so stubbornly, blindly fighting is a world-renown human rights group supported by a broad swath of individuals and institutions, asking for something which is quickly becoming accepted as the future of the food industry and that has already been embraced by 10 leading retail food corporations, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, without any negative consequences for those companies.

And the new approach seems to be backfiring: now that Publix is adopting increasingly desperate tactics to intimidate some of America’s poorest workers and their allies, more and more consumers here in Nashville are starting to question the company’s happy-face public image.

After picketing in front of the store for a little over an hour, flyering passing cars, chanting and singing gospel songs, a group of four people peeled off towards the entrance of the store. Of course, everyone wanted to talk with the managers and express their concerns, but the hostility of Publix’s corporate reps and the police officers caused many to worry that trying to speak with the store manager would mean risking arrest.

We went inside and bought a pound of tomatoes, which cost $2.51. Ben handed a flier to the bagger at the check-out stand, but that’s when Mark caught up to us. “NO SOLICITING,” he barked, and Erin the bagger, a polite young woman, looked at him awkwardly, and handed us back the paper before she could read it.

We tried to explain to the manager that for a single penny–our tomatoes would weigh in at $2.52 instead of $2.51–the workers who harvested the tomatoes could make minimum wage, rather than the starvation wages they get now. But Mark refused to take our letter, using a booming-voiced police sergeant to threaten us out of the store. Finally, with other customers slowing down to take in the show, Mark’s sidekick took our letter, folded it without looking at it, and walked toward the trash can.

But Mark can’t fly up from his Central Florida office every day- we live here, and as one of our picketers called out on Saturday, “We’ll be back!”

Join us at Nashville Fair Food and let’s end farmworker exploitation together!

This Mother’s Day, stand with farmworker moms as they fight for their families…

re-posted from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers website:

This Mother’s Day, stand with farmworker moms as they fight for their families…

Take action with change.org by telling Publix to sign a Fair Food Agreement today!

Take a moment to consider two videos. We’ll begin with the 2012 Publix Mother’s Day commercial (spoiler alert — get your tissues ready):

Whatever you may think about Florida’s supermarket giant on other accounts, Publix makes a great commercial. A moving — yet somehow not overwrought — narrative, natural acting, and an almost magical production quality come together to wrap you up in a world so inviting, so perfect yet so real at the same time, that your heart swells and tears well in your eyes as if on cue. Publix commercials hit their mark, time after time.

And now, the second video, from the Fast for Fair Food:

Two videos, two moving messages, two very different styles. The Publix commercial may be a marketing masterpiece but, ultimately, it is still just marketing: a branded, scripted, directed and acted vehicle for product placement and emotional manipulation designed to tell a story around food. The feeling of love pulled out of you by the video is intended to be associated with Publix, to bond you to the brand.

And the video from the Fast for Fair Food? Real people, not actors. Words from the heart, not aimed at the heart. No direction, just a moment caught in time that tells the story behind the food Publix sells, the real story of thousands of farmworker mothers who work in backbreaking, dangerous, and all too often humiliating conditions, every day of the week — including Mother’s Day — to provide for their families. Mothers who have marched on Publix, led pray-ins at Publix, and fasted outside Publix to call on Publix to join Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and eight other retail food giants in signing a Fair Food Agreement and helping to improve farmworkers’ lives, a call that has fallen on deaf ears.

This Mother’s Day, thanks to the fine folks at change.org, you can help farmworker mothers, and fathers, provide a better life for their families by adding your voice to that call through their online petition. Here’s the text:

“Farmworkers have long faced brutal conditions in the tomato fields of Florida: sub-poverty wages, wage theft, physical abuse and, in the most extreme cases, modern-day slavery.Women and mothers who work in the fields face additional burdens that compound these difficulties. Verbal abuse. Sexual abuse. The inability to spend time with one’s children because such dismal wages require constant work — even on holidays, like Mother’s Day.Click here to watch a brief, must-see video of farmworker mother Nely Rodriguez delivering a powerful tribute to those realities — half-way through a six-day fast for change.

Fortunately, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) — an internationally-recognized farmworker organization — has reached groundbreaking agreements with ten multi-billion dollar food retailers, including McDonald’s, Subway and Trader Joe’s, now participants of the Fair Food Program. Tens of thousands of farmworkers are benefiting from a worker-designed code of conduct in the fields and a penny-per-pound pay increase — the first real increase in thirty years.

But Florida-based Publix Supermarkets, which touts itself for its concern for families, refuses to participate.

That’s why mothers are coming together — from both ends of the supply chain. Farmworker mothers and consumer mothers, bound by their universal desire to provide for their families, are uniting their voices to invite Publix to become a part of a solution that is already well underway — a solution that allows mothers to do their job, and to do it with dignity.

“On Mother’s Day, we ask that you, Publix executives, recognize our affliction and the necessity of just wages for us as farmworkers, who as mothers are responsible for feeding our children,” said Immokalee mother Carmen Esquivel.

Rev. Tricia Dillon Thomas, a Publix customer, advocates for the Fair Food Campaign. “As a mother it is important to me that the food I put on the table is planted and harvested while maintaining farmworker dignity. I cannot very well ask the Lord to bless the food and forget the farmworker.”

The CIW’s Fair Food Program guarantees long-awaited respect and protection within the workplace. Both those who harvest Publix’s produce and those who consume it deem it time for Publix to join.

click here to go to the change.org online petition

We’ll close with reflections shared with us by two mothers from the two ends of Publix’s supply chain, Lupe Gonzalo of the CIW and the Rev. Tricia Dillon Thomas of Peace Presbyterian Church in Bradenton. The first are words from Lupe on the gulf between Publix executives and the farmworkers who labor to fill their stores with fruits and vegetables, the second is a story related to us by Rev. Thomas about how she and her family are taking a second look at the food they eat, and the stores where they buy it:

Lupe Gonzalo:

“When our children ask us why we’re protesting, we tell them the truth. We say that their actions force us into poverty. But when the children of Publix executives ask why Publix is being protested, I doubt that their parents tell them the truth. They probably say, ‘Oh, they’re crazy,’ because its easier than ‘Publix creates their poverty.’ That’s what we want: for Publix executives to have a truth to tell their children that isn’t shameful.”

Rev. Thomas:

Rev. Thomas’ five year-old daughter had accompanied her older siblings and her mother to the final days of the Fast for Fair Food. So it was more than a little confusing when, just a few weeks later, the young girl’s class took her on a field trip to Publix. Coming home wearing an “I Heart Publix” pin, she asked her mom to help her make sense of the two events. As Rev. Thomas explained — how some customers do love Publix, but how that’s changing as Publix’s decisions hurt the farmworkers who pick the tomatoes Publix sells — she watched her daughter slowly, thoughtfully take off the pin.

Please support the Campaign for Fair Food this Mother’s Day by signing the change.org online petition.

April 28th Picket a Success!

Publix apparently got wind of our April 28th picket with enough notice to send up one of their corporate managers from Lakeland, who received our letter and told us that Publix “doesn’t get involved in labor disputes.” After we explained that there is no labor dispute (both the farmers and the workers have already signed Fair Food Agreements, and asked buyers like Publix to join in order to make the agreements complete), Jeff looked speechless, and said he would pass that information on. We let him know we would be back to remind them.Image

Publix picket tomorrow, April 28!

Nashvillians for Fair Food — we are joining a picket at the Publix on West End tomorrow at noon!  (The half-marathon is going on closer to town, past Vanderbilt on West End, so keep that in mind if you’re driving there.)  It’s being organized by the Vanderbilt Campaign for fair Food.  Meet at Occupy Vanderbilt at 11am if you want to help make signs!  To help in planning, let them know you’re coming to the Facebook event:

We’re here to tell Publix to do the right thing and pay the workers who pick their tomatoes a penny more per pound and end abuses in the tomato fields by agreeing to the Fair Food Program’s code of conduct!

A few years ago, a Publix spokesperson said: “If there are atrocities going on, it’s not our business.” Tell Publix to change its stand and do the right thing!

We’re meeting at the encampment of Occupy Vanderbilt in front of Kirkland Hall at 23rd and West End Ave. at 11am and marching down West End to the Publix down the street. (If you prefer not to march, meet us at noon at the Publix at 4324 Harding Pike, off of West End.)

See you tomorrow!

“Publix humiliation: Workers, students fasting for fair food”

Check out this great recap of Publix’s responsibility to do the right thing in the fight for fair food by Nashville Fair Fooder Katy Savage!

The changes that we’re fighting for…

A bloody shirt of a worker who was beaten.The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has a bad bit of news on their website recently: a worker in a packinghouse came to the CIW last month with bloody stains on his shirt from a beating from a supervisor.  The good news is that this didn’t happen in the tomato industry–thanks to the CIW’s Fair Food Program.  A similar beating of a worker who picked tomatoes in 1996 sparked worker organizing that is on the verge of transforming the tomato fields in Florida, with humane working conditions and fair wages.  It seems that the changes worked though the CIW’s Fair Food Program are now showing up among workers across Florida agriculture who are insisting on fair treatment.  Publix, however, still refuses to participate in the Fair Food Program, which ensures that such beatings never happen and that fair wages are paid to tomato pickers…

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