Above photo: Walmart representatives John Amaya (left), Tom Leech (center) and CIW’s Lucas Benitez look on as CIW’s Gerardo Reyes Chavez (far right) signs historic agreement at a Lipman Produce farm outside of Immokalee (Credit: Coalition of Immokalee Workers)
Yesterday, I got a call from Lucas Benitez, with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers down in Florida. They’be been dear friends for over a decade. We’ve marched hundreds of miles together working to end modern day slavery and exploitation — and we’ve seen some major victories, winning over some of the world’s biggest companies to the fair food movement. And just as importantly, we’ve seen the corporate folks recognize the incredible dignity and humanity of farmworkers.
“We’ve got big news!” Lucas said. I could hear the excitement in his voice. I thought he was getting ready to tell me Publix had just become the 12th major corporation to join their Fair Food Program. But he said, “It’s not Publix… It’s Walmart. Walmart has just signed on!” I could hear the cheering in the background as they went in to sign the agreement yesterday with the world’s largest retail company. Critique Walmart all you want (I sure have), but this is an unprecedented move that will mean immediate change for 30,000 men and women that harvest food in Florida’s $650 million tomato industry. And it will help build the momentum to end modern day slavery and exploitation. It’s worth celebrating! And hey, maybe Publix is next.
The CIW’s Cruz Salucio added: “We are truly pleased to welcome Walmart into the Fair Food Program. No other company has the market strength and consumer reach that Walmart has,” said Cruz Salucio of the CIW. “Through this collaboration, not only will thousands of hard-working farm workers see concrete improvements to their lives, but millions of consumers will learn about the Fair Food Program and of a better way to buy fruits and vegetables grown and harvested here in the US.”
All the info is here: http://ciw-online.org
Here’s a video from the march with CIW I went on a year ago: