April 26, 2012
In case you thought we had forgotten about Publix...
Massive march in Sarasota, pray-in in St. Pete keep the pressure on Florida's hold-out grocer...
While the 2012 Northeast Tour took the fight for Fair Food to Stop & Shop, Giant, and Chipotle, back home in Florida the Publix front in the Campaign for Fair Food has been anything but quiet.
With a huge pray-in at a St. Petersburg Publix store (right) and a massive march on a Publix in Sarasota (above) -- not to mention a continuing barrage of letters to Publix from disillusioned customers -- Fair Food activists in Florida have kept the heat on Florida's largest grocer.
So, check out the photo reports from the St. Pete pray-in and the Sarasota march, but first, take a moment to read the letters below from former Publix customers for a sense of the kind of feedback executives in Lakeland are getting every day from a growing number of disenchanted shoppers.
The first comes to us from David Moynahan of Crawfordville, Florida, who wrote to let us know that he is, "gradually handing the attached letter to management in all the Publix stores in Tallahassee, as well as giving copies to friends and encouraging them to write their own or participate in whatever ways they can." Here's what Publix managers across the Tallahassee area are reading these days:
Dear Publix Manager,
I want you to know that I am very disappointed in Publix and actually avoid shopping at your store.
When I turned 16 in 1966 in Miami, my first job was as a bag boy at Publix where my family shopped. I held this job throughout high school and grew up a Florida resident and loyal Publix shopper in Tallahassee.
So it is with abhorrence that I react to news that your company – a “highly-respected Florida corporate leader” – has refused year after year to pledge to purchase produce only from growers who are committed to the Fair Food Code of Conduct. When Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Trader Joe’s, and others can commit to helping end unsafe working conditions, sexual harassment, slavery, and wage theft for the field workers who tend and pick your produce, why can’t you?
It saddens me that my daughter -- instead of feeling that Publix is her grocery store like her parents have -- feels your company has so disregarded basic human rights of the field workers that she fasted for 6 days with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Fast for Fair Food in front of your Lakeland headquarters in March 2012. How can you have allowed this issue to come to such an extreme point?
Your mission statement declares that you will be “involved as Responsible Citizens in our Communities”. Is this hollow propaganda?
I am spreading the word to my friends and community about this Publix Shame, and will continue to do so until you genuinely join the community of responsible corporate citizens. Now is the time to take the high road, pledge to support the Fair Food Code of Conduct, and show your Florida customers that you really are involved and caring.
The second is from Betsy and Marco Monsalve of Holmes Beach, Florida:
Publix Super Markets Corporate Office
Dear Mr. Crenshaw:
We are Florida residents and business owners and long-term enthusiastic Publix customers. That is why we are particularly dismayed that Publix refuses to join so many other major food-related retailers in the Fair Food Program to provide more humane wages and working conditions to farm workers. We understand that the “penny per pound” for tomatoes will be passed on to us consumers and are most willing to contribute this premium (and administrative costs) to incentivize growers to upgrade wages and working conditions.
As fellow owners of an employee-owned business, we are no stranger to the complexities of labor issues and practices. Since the premium is paid directly to the growers, however, we do not understand Publix’s position regarding its reluctance to “pay employees of other companies directly.” This is especially puzzling since the other participating large retailers with large workforces do not find this to be a difficulty.
Publix and Associates profess core values of community involvement, volunteerism, diversity and inclusion. We have always found Publix employees to be of the highest caliber in providing us with excellent products and informed and friendly service – hallmarks of employees themselves who are treated fairly and enlightened management.
We hope that Publix will reconsider this opportunity to join with other community-oriented fair-minded employers in providing humane wages and working conditions for farm workers who are our neighbors and the parents of future Floridians.
With ever-growing support among students, faith allies, and everyday Florida consumers, the call for Publix to support the Fair Food Program is gaining strength by the hour! So, check out the latest actions here and here, and find out how you can make your own voice heard by visiting our take action page today!