[fla-left] [news/action] Immokalee, FL farmworkers strike!! (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at SPAMfreenet.tlh.fl.us
Tue Dec 14 08:09:59 MST 1999



forwarded by Michael Hoover

> email your letters of solidarity and support to
> CoaImmwkr at aol.com
> ***
>
> Immokalee Farmworkers Walk Out to Protest Falling
> Wages
>
> [Monday, December 13, 1999, Immokalee, Florida]:
> Today, hundreds of tomato  pickers in Immokalee joined in a
> community-wide strike to protest 20 years  of falling wages in Florida's
> tomato industry, an industry with annual  receipts of nearly $500,000,000
> state-wide. Today's action marks the third  time in the past five years
> that Immokalee farmworkers have walked out of the fields in protest
> over wages.
>
> The workers are calling for dialogue between the Coalition of Immokalee
> Workers and the major tomato growers in Southwest Florida to discuss
> the wage issue and other working conditions.  At the heart of the workers'
> protest is the picking piece rate, or the amount paid for every 32-pound
> bucket of tomatoes that a worker can pick in a day.  That piece rate has
> been essentially stagnant for over 20 years, at 40-45 cents per bucket, and
> workers say that with the rise in the cost of living they can no longer make
> ends meet.
>
> [Most (66%) of Florida's migrant and seasonal farmworkers live below the
> poverty line.  During the period from 1992 to 1995,90% of the farmworkers
> surveyed in Florida by the National Agricultural Worker Survey (NAWS)
> reported individual income from agriculture under $12,500.  One third had
> annual income from farm work under $5,000.  Beyond poverty-level wages,
> virtually no Florida farmworkers receive overtime pay for overtime worked,
> sick leave or paid vacation, health insurance, or pension.]
>
> "We are fighting for simple justice," says Lucas Benitez of the Coalition.
> "As farmworkers in Florida, we are denied the most basic human rights
> that workers in most other industries take for granted -- the right to
> organize and to talk to your employer about wages, and the right to a
> fair wage, a wage that you can live on, raise your family, and provide a
> decent life for your children.  We work hard," Benitez continued, "but we
> get almost nothing in return.  We are tired of getting treated like
> machines, and we have decided that now is the time to fight for
> what we deserve."
>
> Farmworkers in Immokalee have been organizing to improve their working
> and living conditions through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers since 1995,
> when the first general strike in the history of Florida agriculture erupted
> in Immokalee following an attempt by one important area grower to cut
> pickers' wages.  Since that strike, ending in the successful reversal of the
> attempted cut, workers in Immokalee have continued to organize and have
> won several important gains, including modest pay raises in the piece rate
> since 1997 and the investigation and prosecution of two major slavery rings
> operating out of Southwest Florida over the past  three years.
>
> This year, the workers in Immokalee are asking for
> your help.  Here are some
> ways you can support us:
>
> 1. The Coalition asks that you CALL or WRITE
> Governor Jeb Bush and ask that he use his influence to bring the growers to the
> table in dialogue with the  Coalition of Immokalee Workers.  You can reach
> Governor Bush at the  following address and telephone number:
>
> Governor Jeb Bush
> Executive Office of the Governor
> 1601 The Capitol
> Tallahassee, Florida  32399-0001
> 850/488-4441
>
> (Office of Planning and Budget,
> Brian Yablonski)
> Tel. (850) 488-7810
> Fax (850) 488-9005
>
> 2. Mail/ Fax/ E-mail LETTERS OF SUPPORT to the
> tomato strikers
> P.O. Box 603
> Immokalee, FL 34143
> (941)657-8311 (phone & fax)
> CoaImmwkr at aol.com
>
> 3. Visit our web page at:
> http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Embassy/5364/
>
> 4. Sign up for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
> LISTSERVE and receive
> regular updates on our work
>
> To subscribe, send a blank email to:
> ciw-announce-subscribe at eGroups.com
> To unsubscribe, send blank email to:
> ciw-announce-unsubscribe at eGroups.com
>
> 5. Send the Coalition MONETARY DONATIONS
> P.O. Box 603
> Immokalee, FL 34143
> (941) 657-8311 (phone & fax)
> CoaImmwkr at aol.com
>
> 6. Distribute this message!
>
> Thank you for your support.
>
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>
> =====
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