Farmworkers march in Florida | The USA Print

Farmworkers march in Florida

Hundreds of farm workers Florida concluded a five-day march calling for more US retail corporations to join a program that ensures better pay and Labor conditions.

The walk of about 50 miles (80 km.) has concluded in Palm Beach, a town in South Florida that is home to millionaire mansions facing the Atlantic Ocean, including Nelson Peltz, director of the Wendy’s fast food chain and who is one of companies targeted by protesters.

“Now they saw the greed of one of their neighbors,” Lucas Benítez, a founding member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), organizer of the march that began Tuesday in the small community of Pahokee, told EFE. , where in 2015 a case of labor exploitation was discovered.

The march has concluded with a demonstration that has brought together some 575 people, according to the CIW count, and in which Florida congresswoman Lois Frankel, human rights activist Kerry Kennedy and leaders of various religious congregations have participated, after which have started a hike by Palm Beach.

The participants ask that both Wendy’s, as well as the Publix and Kroger supermarket chains, adhere to the Fair Food Program (FFP), which began in 2011 and which, together with agricultural entrepreneurs and major retailers, sets standard protections for farmworkers in Florida and other states.

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The march, which has received a “very favorable” response, according to Benítez, has sought to expose “the two faces of current agriculture”, in one of which the workers under the protection of this program in which retail giants such as Walmart participate , Whole Foods and Burger King have “decent pay” and see their labor rights protected.

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The situation is different for those outside the reach of the FFP, which includes 14 corporations and has earned recognition from the United Nations and the White House for “eliminating long-standing labor abuses” in labor camps. crops from about ten states.

For those who are not protected by the program, the risk of suffering sexual harassment and modern slavery is greater, situations that are increasing in the country, as the organizers warn.

As a reminder, they refer to the case discovered in the Pahokee field, where the owner was sentenced last year to almost 10 years in prison after discovering that Mexican immigrants were victims of forced labor and extortion.

“Since we started it, the idea of ​​this program has always been to win, win and win,” said Benítez, alluding to the benefits for the three parties involved: retail companies, growers and farmers. farm workers.

“The corporations gain a reputation, the ranches where the tomatoes are produced have stable, happy and more productive workers, and the workers receive more humane conditions,” the activist explained.

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