Florida’s tomato farms supply 50% of all U.S. fresh tomatoes1 but have also been called America’s ‘ground zero for slavery.’ Countless workers have been found held against their will, threatened with violence and forced to haul hundreds of heavy tomato buckets a day for little to no pay.
And right now is the worst part of Florida’s tomato picking season – the days are hot and the vines have nearly been picked clean making it hard to fill quotas. In these final days, there is also tremendous pressure for tomato farms to turn a profit making conditions ripe for worker exploitation.
A new solution called the Fair Food Program has been proven successful in the fight against modern slavery in Florida’s tomato fields. But a major U.S. supermarket chain, Publix Super Markets, is refusing to support the Fair Food Program. Publix continues to buy tomatoes from growers that are not partners of the Fair Food Program and where workers still toil beyond the reach of its proven protection from modern slavery.
After decades of abuse, Florida’s farmworkers finally have a chance in the fight against exploitation with the Fair Food Program, demanding a policy of zero tolerance for human rights abuses, including slavery, on tomato farms.
The White House recently called the exciting new program “one of the most successful and innovative programs” in the world today in the fight to uncover – and prevent — modern-day slavery, and just last week United Nations investigators called it “impressive” and praised its “independent and robust enforcement mechanism.”
Leading brands including Subway, Whole Foods Market, McDonald’s and Trader Joe’s have already joined the fight against forced labour and now only buy tomatoes from growers who comply with the following Fair Food Principles:
- A code of conduct for tomato growers;
- Complaint mechanisms for farmworkers;
- Education sessions to help workers understand their rights; and
- Regular auditing of farm operations.
It’s been four long years of public pressure but Publix, one of the largest purchasers of local tomatoes, still refuses to take responsibility for their supply chain.
Will Publix Super Markets, which prides itself on making Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” list, continue to turn a blind eye and give excuses, or will it leverage its vast market influence and lead the way in cleaning up slavery in the tomato supply chain once and for all?
We think Publix will make the right choice, but it won’t happen without broad public support. Once you’ve sent your message to Publix, please forward this email on to your friends and family, urging them to join the fight that is ending slavery in the U.S. tomato industry.
Thank you for your support,
Debra, Kate, Ryan, Mich, Hayley, Nick, Jess, Amy and the Walk Free team.
Want to remove this shocking reality from your pantry? Start by letting Cargill know that slave labor is unacceptable.
In Java last year, I interviewed two men with identical stories of being lured away from their hometowns with the promise of well paid work by Cargill supplier Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK).
The two were exposed to toxic chemicals in the palm oil fields with no protection and kept under lock and key at night by armed security. Each finally escaped these horrendous slave labor conditions without ever being paid.
I need your help to convince Cargill to stop filling America’s food supply with palm oil that causes environmental and human rights violations like these.
You’ve already been a massive help in putting Cargill on the path to protecting Indonesia’s rainforests. Just last week, Cargill announced it will finally be offering North American customers palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Just two years ago Cargill claimed this was impossible. Your pressure made it happen. Thank you.
We’ve clearly got a few more steps to go to ensure Cargill’s on the right side of rainforests, and I’m asking you to take those steps by my side.
Are you with me?
Just in — after global uproar, two major steps have been taken towards ending Forced Child Marriage in Yemen:
2) Yemen signs a UN Human Rights Council Resolution to prioritise ending Forced Marriage.2
We’re so close to ending Forced Child Marriage in Yemen, but we still need concrete legislation in order to end this form of modern slavery. In 2009, the parliament of Yemen voted to introduce a legal minimum age for marriage, protecting children from a life of domestic and sexual slavery. At the last minute, it was overruled. We can’t let this happen again. We need to tell the President of Yemen, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, not to waste this second chance while the eyes of the world are upon Yemen.
You’ve probably already seen the story of Rawan, the 8-year-old Yemeni girl who was sold by her parents, forced to marry a man five times her age and died on her “wedding night”, after her fragile young body sustained fatal injuries.
Right now, the collective horror of the world is focused on the devastating death of an 8-year-old girl. We’ve seen thousands of emails, Facebook posts and tweets from our community calling for action. We know that ending Forced Child Marriage everywhere poses big obstacles and yet, this may be one of few fleeting moments when millions of at-risk girls are counting on the support of a global movement of activists. We’re not going to let them down.
Forced Child Marriage is a form of modern slavery, and in Yemen there is no law that makes it illegal. It’s common for girls as young as 8 to be forced to marry to settle debts. In fact, 50% of girls in Yemen are married before they reach the age of 18.3
The Yemeni Government has the power to bring an end to Forced Child Marriage forever; the first step is to ban the marriage of anyone under the age of 18, protecting children from a life of domestic and sexual slavery. The Yemeni government needs to know that the eyes of the world are watching and expect their swift response. Will you help?
Rawan’s story has struck a chord with people everywhere.
As well as depriving girls of their right to a childhood, Forced Child Marriage leaves victims vulnerable to sexual, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of their so-called husbands and extended families.
Now is the time to act. The Walk Free community is over 4 million strong and growing rapidly. Our collective voice is powerful – we can urge the government of Yemen to pass crucial legislation protecting children and young girls from the brutalities of forced marriage.
The idea of being sold into a life of domestic and sexual slavery seems unbelievable, and it’s sad that only extreme cases like Rawan’s gain attention.How amazing would it be if these cases never made the media – not because they were unreported, but because Forced Child Marriage no longer existed?
Thank you in advance for your support. If you have a moment, please forward this email to 3 of your friends so we can become one step closer to building a world free of this form of modern slavery.
Debra, Nick, Mich, Kate, Ryan, Jess, Amy, Kamini, Sarah, Mika and the Walk Free Team
Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fightin
We guess so, except we can’t help wondering: while improving sales and promoting their range of Florida tomatoes why is Publix STILL REFUSING to join the fight against slavery in the U.S. tomato industry?
Florida’s tomato farms supply 50% of all U.S. fresh tomatoes2 but have also been called America’s ‘ground zero for slavery’. Countless workers are held against their will, threatened with violence and forced to haul hundreds of heavy tomato buckets a day for little to no pay.
Thankfully, a new solution called the Fair Food Program has been proven successful in the fight against worker exploitation. But a major U.S. supermarket chain, Publix Super Markets, is refusing to support the Fair Food Program. Publix continues to buy tomatoes from farms where workers still toil beyond the reach of its proven protection from modern slavery.
Tell Publix Super Markets CEO William Crenshaw to join the fight against slavery in the U.S. tomato industry now.
In the past 15 years, over 1,000 people have been freed from modern slavery in Florida’s tomato fields3. The worst employers have been charged with beating workers who attempt to leave, holding employees in debt, and even chaining victims inside U-Haul style trucks as punishment.
Other leading food companies like Subway, Trader Joe’s and McDonald’s have already joined the Fair Food Program, demanding a policy of zero tolerance for human rights abuses, including slavery, on tomato farms. However, Publix Super Markets has turned a blind eye to the problem and has yet to take action.
Tell Publix to make the right decision to join the Fair Food Program and ensure our tomatoes meet the highest human rights standards in the food industry today.
We think Publix will make the right choice, but it won’t happen without broad public support. Once you’ve sent your message to Publix, please forward this email on to your friends and family, urging them to join the fight against modern slavery.
Thank you for your support,
Debra, Kate, Mich, Nick, Amy, Jess, Ryan, Hayley and the Walk Free Team