Tag Archives: Publix

Modern Slavery … a repost


 

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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.

It’s important that we act now.

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.

Tell Publix Super Markets’ CEO William Crenshaw to join the fight against slavery in the U.S. tomato industry.

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. 

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.

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.

Debra Rosen, Walk Free & Florida tomatoes


Publix Super Markets just released their latest financial results – US$7 BILLION in sales for the second quarter of this year1. Good for them, right?

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

ECONOMY: Hungry For Help


Special Note: The Progress Report will be temporarily suspended starting tomorrow and will return on Monday. We wish everyone a happy and safe holidays!

As the holidays approach, more American kitchen tables will be empty than at any time in recent memory. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report saying that “food insecurity” rates are the highest they’ve been since the government began keeping track. Food pantries across the country, meanwhile, are struggling to meet escalating demands for their services, while key safety net measures that could keep homes headed and food on the table, like unemployment insurance and food stamps, are imperiled by Republican obstruction in Congress. Worse, many conservatives and too many in the mainstream media don’t seem to take this crisis seriously — meaning that more families are likely to be left out in the cold.

NO FOOD: As one might expect, tough economic times have created dire situations for many American families, literally keeping many from putting food on the table. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, last year 14.7 percent of American families were “food insecure,” meaning they had trouble feeding one or more family members because of a lack of financial means. This was the highest rate of food insecurity since the USDA began collecting statistics 15 years ago. This means that 50.2 million people lived in food insecure households, including 17.2 million children. According to USDA research, 12.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with drastic food insecurity. Children’s Health Watch notes that in households with very young children, the rate of food insecurity rose last year to 25.4 percent, from 24.5 percent, meaning an additional 483,000 children under the age of six lived in food insecure households in 2009. Less than half of the affected families — 43 percent — were below the federal poverty line, meaning lack of food isn’t a problem limited to the very poor. Black and Latino households, and households headed by single mothers, were disproportionately affected by food insecurity, with rates almost double the national average. At this time of year, many families turn to food pantries — in fact, the largest rise in food pantry use was over the last two years — and the pantries are struggling to keep up with demand. “Last month there wasn’t a moment when people weren’t waiting in line at least three to four deep to get food. It was non-stop for the entire three hours we were open,” said one food pantry worker in Marietta, OH. “There have been a lot of laid-off workers, and for the last couple of years we’ve been seeing some situations where two families live in the same house.”

IGNORING THE ISSUE: As is too often the case, many prominent conservatives are less than concerned with the plight of working families struggling during these hard economic times. Radio host Rush Limbaugh took up the USDA report, but couldn’t quite figure out what “food insecurity” actually was. He hypothesized that “food insecurity is what causes obesity,” because “if you eat too much to deal with your food insecurity, then you get fat.” He then mocked the idea of “fighting off hunger,” saying that “you can actually see it….you go inside Publix or any grocery store, you can see them walk down the aisles, they reach for something and then they don’t. It’s an amazing thing to watch, people fighting off hunger.” If conservatives aren’t demeaning this crisis, they’re ignoring it. Fox News did not mention the USDA’s report at all and did not tell viewers that food insecurity rates were higher than ever. Though Glenn Beck does like to tell his fans to save and stockpile food, as he did this month, it’s for made-up reasons involving an imminent government collapse. Sadly, though, this inattention wasn’t limited to the conservative Fox News. A Nexis search of cable news networks revealed only four mentions of “food insecurity” following the USDA report, compared with, for example, 53 mentions of “royal wedding.”

POLICY STRUGGLES: The inattention to food insecurity in the public discourse has predictably lead to lagging action to address the issue in Washington. Unemployment insurance and federal food assistance have proved to work when it comes to addressing poverty. As the Center for American Progress notes, unemployment insurance pulled 3.3 million people —  including 1 million children — out of poverty in 2009 alone. This is more people than the entire population of the Chicago metropolitan area. Food stamps alone lifted 2.4 million children out of “deep poverty,” which is greater than the number of children living in Los Angeles County. These programs are not only morally responsible, but also benefit the economy. CAP Senior Fellow Joel Berg estimates that hunger costs the economy $126 billion annually. Businesses will also be hurt if these programs aren’t extended, creating further economic instability —  CAP’s Heather Boushey and Jordan Eizenga explain that unemployment insurance and food stamps are helping the economy recover from the recession. House Republicans cruelly blocked a continuation of unemployment insurance this week, however. The Senate actually cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food stamps, by $2 billion in 2013 in order to pay for improved school lunches. And while the Senate did finally extend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) this week, it blocked TANF’s Emergency Contingency Fund, a successful jobs program that has created more than 250,000 subsidized jobs for low-income workers through grants to states. This type of cruel inaction will leave more families staring at empty holiday tables in the coming months. Rush Limbaugh will surely be eating well, however.