Florida Clergy Stand with Farmworkers: Petition for Fair Food

The Fast for Fair Food continues, and the farmworkers are not alone. Sign the petition!

Florida Clergy have launched Faith Moves Mountains—a spiritual campaign which urges Publix to work together with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to advance human rights for farmworkers. “We believe,” they declare, “that with God’s help, Publix’s isolation and hesitation can be transformed into communication and cooperation with the CIW.”

These clergy and others have come together to make their stand with the farmworkers, students, and other people of faith who are fasting this week for six days outside of the Publix headquarters, calling on Publix executives and staff to improve the wages and working conditions of those harvesting their tomatoes.

Members of Tallahassee Interfaith Clergy, including Rev. Brant Copeland of First Presbyterian Church, and other supporters held a press conference yesterday, March 6th, outside the Tallahassee Pulbix supermarket on NE Capital Circle to express support for the Fair Food Campaign of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. For a press account click here.

During that press conference, clergy signed a letter stating,

Publix’ founder George Jenkins famously advised his managers: ‘Don’t let making a profit get in the way of doing the right thing.’ The supermarket company he founded has earned a reputation for fairness… Publix now offers Fair Trade coffee with the slogan: ‘Fair is only fair.’ We, the undersigned clergy, cannot understand why this fairness policy does not extend to the most abused and underpaid workers in America, the Immokalee farmworkers. Why Fair Trade coffee, and not Fair Food? Immokalee workers labor for long hours, stooped over, exposed to pesticides and to the Florida sun without shade or protection. They earn sub-poverty pay that has not significantly increased in more than three decades. A worker needs to pick and haul over two tons of tomatoes in a 10-hour day in order to approach minimum wage level. Court convictions for forced labor (slavery) in the tomato fields in recent years highlight the abuse that these workers endure. We believe that a food system that keeps prices artificially low by abusing impoverished workers is unjust and unworthy of Publix’ participation.

Joining Florida clergy are notable faith leaders, such as the National Council of Churches (NCC) former president and Poverty Initiative director, Rev. Michael Livingston. Rev. Livingston, who also has committed to the fast, has been daily blogging his reflections. Unbound will be moderating a real-time interview with Rev. Livingston on Twitter, today, 3-4 PM EST, using the hashtag #fairfoodfast. Unbound invites you to join the conversation, tweeting your own questions to Rev. Livingston. Just make sure you use the hashtag, so we can all follow!

The Rev. Noelle Damico, Associate for Fair Food with the Presbyterian Hunger Program, opened the first day of the fast with prayer and has been busy, not only assisting with the organizing of the fast, but also blogging on Unbound.

Joining these bloggers from the front is seminary student Shannon Gorres of the United Church of Christ. She writes, “We fast in an attempt to strenghten an already incredibly strong point—we will sacrifice of our bodies to bear witness to those whose bodies are too often sacrificed in the fields. It is a sacrifice that God calls us to make when our societies are so unjust that our neighbors go hungry.”

Take action now! Tell Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw: It’s time to sign the Fair Food Agreement.

Sign the petition today!

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