Julia Gabriel: "Como trabajadores y mujeres, tenemos que luchar por nuestros derechos y contra la violencia tanto en la labor como en la casa" "As women and as workers, we have to fight for our rights and against violence both in the fields and in our own homes"
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Coalition of Immokalee Workers
WHO WE ARE
1995 General Strike Immokalee, Florida
The CIW is today spear-heading the Taco Bell boycott. But before we launched the national boycott in April of 2001, we had been organizing locally for many years in an effort to modernize labor relations in Florida's fields, improve wages and working conditions for our members, and eliminate modern-day slavery.
To learn more about the history of the Coalition, you can go to the CIW site where you'll find all the non-Taco Bell info on the Coalition from 1995 to 2001, including past CIW campaigns, Press Archives, Photo Galleries, and more!
1997 General Strike Immokalee, Florida
Or, you can simply click on some of the links here below to go directly to the pages from the CIW site that interest you... just remember to hit the back button on your browser to return to the boycott site!:
PRESS CONFERENCE IN IMMOKALEE - HUMAN RIGHTS LEADERS JOIN BOYCOTT 3-15-04
The bucket pyramid made an appearance in Immokalee yesterday, adorned this time with a number of new accessories, including a shiny four-foot tall penny symbolizing the raise Immokalee workers are demanding from Yum Brands and a banner that spells out the equation of exploitation in Immokalee in no uncertain terms: "2 Tons of Tomatoes = $50 Pay = Unfair Trade". The pyramid, banner, and penny would serve as the backdrop for the rest of the day's activities.
But before the press conference was to start, there was time for participants to meet and discuss the issues of the day. Here, Minor Sinclair of Oxfam shares notes with the Honorable Mary Robinson, who is not only the former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, but also a former President of Ireland.
As the press got into place, final touches were put on the pyramid...
... then it was time for the press conference to begin. Oxfam America President Raymond C. Offenheiser kicked off the presentations by announcing the release of Oxfam's study on the impact of corporate concentration in the agrifood industry entitled, "Like Machines in the Fields: Workers without Rights in American Agriculture," stating, "It is unacceptable that huge profits are being made off the back of the hardest working and lowest paid workers in the world. It is unconscionable for that to be happening right here in the United States."
He added, "We publicly call on the CEO's, the boards of directors and the major investors in these leading [food] companies to guarantee that their supply chains adhere to the highest standards of respect and responsibility for workers rights."
Francisca Cortez of the CIW followed, describing in compelling detail the reality of life as a farmworker in Immokalee, and concluding her remarks by identifying three of the fundamental rights as defined by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the little blue book that she is holding at the podium) that are systematically violated in Florida's fields -- the right to organize, the right to a decent wage, and the right to work free of slavery.
Next was Bishop Thomas Hoyt, President of the National Council of Churches. Bishop Hoyt was equally strong in his presentation, declaring that the CIW's campaign is a "wake up call" to all us -- to the agricultural industry, to the religious community, to the media, and to consumers generally, saying, "This is an historic moment – a sacred moment when each and every one of us is called to decide: will we use our power to put an end to exploitation or will we hide ourselves among what Dr. King called the “fraternities of the indifferent?”
Rev. Noelle Damico read excerpts of a statement from Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): "We are particularly concerned with the role Yum! Brands has played, or more accurately, has not played in this situation. As a purchaser of tens of millions of pounds of tomatoes, Yum! benefits by being able to purchase these tomatoes cheaply on account of the poverty wages earned by farmworkers. As such, we believe that Yum! Brands has a clear moral responsibility to take leadership to assure just working conditions and compensation for the very persons who provide the products which are at the heart of its operation. Any corporation which benefits through the exploitation of others is gravely implicated in such exploitation and has a moral and ethical responsibility to end that exploitation. Mr. Novak, as the CEO of the largest fast-food company in the world, we need your leadership. We sincerely hope that by its words and actions Yum Brands! will join with farmworkers and its tomato suppliers to create just working and living conditions that promote human well-being "
Lucas Benitez of the CIW followed Rev. Damico, drawing clear and compelling connections between Immokalee's poverty and Taco Bell's fast-food profits. "There is a very simple reason that brings us all here today: Quite simply, we are all disgusted that violations of human rights keep happening here, here in the United States" he said. "Behind the shiny and happy images of Taco Bell commercials on TV is the reality of the farmworkers who contribute to the fast-food giant's businees and wealth with their sweat and with their blood."
Finally, President Mary Robinson spoke. Quoted in the Palm Beach Post, she said, "This is a real human rights issue -- a fundamental human rights issue," said President Robinson. "I'm very aware that there are many people working at Yum who would be proud of their company."
But, she continued, they might do well to visit Immokalee, to "go out at four in the morning at the start of a working day" and see the horrendous conditions workers must suffer. Then, she said, the company might reexamine its "purchasing strategy" that relies on the cheapest of labor. Yum has "great purchasing power and they use it to buy the cheapest products, and the burden of that is falling on the workers," she said.
Following her tour of Immokalee's housing conditions, President Robinson told the press, "I know the conditions the workers left; they came here hoping for the American dream. They must be so disappointed, because now they are so exploited. These workers are excluded from core labor standards, and we saw people living in containers, and mobile homes with six or seven men in one room. It was stuffy on a warm day like today but I can't imagine what it must be like in the heat of summer. It's important to recognize the purchasing prices paid by YUM and Taco Bell have a direct connection with the conditions the workers face. It would be good for a senior representative of YUM to visit Immokalee and see the situation on the ground here."