Last Saturday, PAN staff marched alongside 700+ people who came out in support of Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to participate in a 3-mile march to the headquarters of Florida grocery chain Publix. CIW and allies called on the retailer to sign the Fair Food Agreement. This agreement would guarantee farmworkers better, safer working conditions and an additional penny per pound of tomatoes harvested. It has already been signed by Whole Foods, Subway and Trader Joe’s, among a host of others.
Saturday’s march marked the end of a 6-day Fast for Fair Food in which over 60 farmworkers and their allies participated. The fasters camped outside the Publix headquarters all week, sustained by nothing but water, electrolytes and the hundreds of messages of support that poured in from allies around the country. Many also supported by fasting in solidarity from afar.
The breaking of the fast was facilitated by Ethel and Kerry Kennedy, widow and daughter of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who handed out bread to the fasters and called upon the owners of Publix to sign the agreement and restore basic human rights to the fields of Immokalee.
PAN’s Devika Ghai was in Florida, and joined the call for restoring rights: “This is fundamentally about human rights. As we saw in the international peoples’ tribunal held in India last year, farmworkers are a frontline community suffering extreme exploitation at the hands of the global food system. It’s going to take a very deep shift in the system to guarantee basic human rights to all, but every step we take together moves us further towards this goal. The Fair Food Agreement is certainly one such important step.”