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SLAVERY IN AMERICA: 15 Years, 7 Cases, Over 1,000 Freed
Throughout our summer Recipe for Change campaign, we have been sharing the stories of some of the tomato farmworkers enslaved in Florida, and then set free through the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Thanks to CIW and the U.S. Department of Justice, seven cases have been successfully prosecuted over the past 15 years, bringing freedom to more than 1,000 farmworkers. You can learn more about these historic cases by reading CIWs summaries here.
These cases helped pave the way for a solution to the problem of slavery that was happening right here in our own backyard, and CIW notes that the solution is working. According to CIW:
"It must be stated that these situations are not the norm in agriculture today. Rather, modern-day slavery occurs along a continuum of systemic abuse that can best be described as sweatshop conditions, including sub-poverty wages, no right to overtime pay, and no right to organize. CIW believes that the ultimate solution to modern-day slavery in agribusiness lies on the demand side of the US produce market the major food-buying corporations that profit from the artificially-low cost of US produce picked by workers in sweatshop conditions which, in the worst cases, tip over into slavery. Ultimately, these corporations must leverage their vast resources and market influence as major produce buyers to clean up slavery and other labor abuses in their supply chains once and for all."
These cases helped inform the safeguards that are now part of the Fair Food Program, another initiative of CIW that protects farmworkers from slavery and other forms of abuse. Supermarkets and other food suppliers can join the Fair Food Program, to make sure slavery truly becomes a thing of the past.
The nation's largest retailers in the fast-food and food-service sectors have joined the CIW's Fair Food Program, a joint effort with farmworkers and Florida's largest tomato growers to confront egregious abuses on Florida's tomato farms. Chains like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, McDonald's and Subway have agreed to buy Florida tomatoes only from suppliers that comply with the Fair Food Code of Conduct, designed to protect workers' basic rights. Its time for Publix, Ahold (parent company of Giant Food and other major chains), Kroger (parent company of Ralphs and other major stores), and other large supermarket chains to support the program.
Justice Campaigns mobilizes people around the country in support of U.S. policies that will lead to the abolition of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Join us this summer for Recipe for Change, as we campaign for slave-free tomatoes.