"Consumers should be aware of workers rights"

US (FL): Farmworkers urge food companies to join Fair Food Program

Farmworkers came from across the state to march with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers through the Town of Palm Beach on Saturday afternoon. They were there to urge Nelson Peltz, board chairman of Wendy's, to join the Fair Food Program —an initiative in the tomato supply industry to improve labor standards and to protect and educates workers about farm labor abuses.

Between 400-500 people took part in the march. The farmworkers were joined by supporters, artists and faith communities. They called on Pelts, who owns a home on the wealthy island, to follow suit with nationwide companies such as McDonald’s, Whole Foods and Walmart. Organizers say a new code of conduct agreement would help “end modern slavery in the fields.” Lupe Gonzalo, a former farmer and one of the leaders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, said she wants to “guarantee human rights as dignity for workers.”

“It's so important for consumers to be aware of workers rights,” said Gonzalo. “When they think about the food that's on their table, think about 'Where does this food come from? Under what conditions was this food harvested?' Maybe there was slavery behind this food that they were enjoying?’"

Gonzalo, a Guatemalan mother of two, says she has worked in the agriculture industry for 12 years, picking tomatoes, apples, blueberries and other crops. Unfair work conditions is “an experience lived by farmworkers for decades here in the United States,” she said.

“We want Wendy's to join the fair food program so that we can continue to expand this program. Sometimes we're not aware of some of the abuses that are happening because there isn't a mechanism for workers to report those problems to,” said Gonzalo. “But we know that these are abuses that are left every day in the fields. But this program ensures that there's protections for workers against those abuses.”

Read the complete article at www.wlrn.org.

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