Sunday, February 27, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm – March for Campaign for Fair Food

On Sunday, February 27th, farm workers from Florida – the men and women who pick the tomatoes Bostonians eat from October to May every year — will be joined by consumers from across the Northeast in a march beginning at Copley Square, through downtown Boston, to the Brigham Circle Stop & Shop store, where they will hold a rally to demand that the supermarket chain join a growing partnership among farm workers, Florida tomato growers, and retail food giants aimed at ending decades of farm labor abuse in Florida.  Farm workers from the Coalition of Immokalee (FL) Workers, Slow Food president Josh Viertel, religious leaders, students, community activists from across the Northeast sponsor the march. “We pick Boston’s tomatoes, and for years those tomatoes have been harvested in Florida’s fields under unimaginably harsh conditions,” said Leonel Perez of the CIW. “Today, however, we are finally beginning to see the first glimmers of more humane treatment at work, thanks to the Campaign for Fair Food.”  Florida farm workers have long faced brutal conditions in the fields, including sub-poverty wages, widespread labor rights violations, and even modern-day slavery. Today, however, there is hope on the horizon, thanks to the efforts of farm workers, Fair Food activists, Florida tomato growers, and nine food industry leaders (including Whole Foods) who have joined in support of the CIW’s Fair Food principles, including a penny-per-pound piece rate wage increase, a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process. Last November, the CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE) signed an agreement to extend these principles to over 90% of Florida’s tomato fields. And though the implementation of that agreement is being phased in gradually over the course of this season and the next, many real, concrete changes have already taken root on some of the state’s largest farms. The solution to farm labor exploitation and abuse contained in the Fair Food principles depends on the participation of all the major purchasers of Florida tomatoes. Each buyer must contribute its fair share – its penny-per-pound – for the pay raise to reach its full potential. Each buyer must commit to direct its purchases to those growers complying with the code of conduct – and away from those who don’t – for working conditions to get better and stay better. In the words of the FTGE’s Reggie Brown, “Everybody in the system has to be invested for it to work.” About the Coalition of Immokalee Workers: The CIW ( is a community-based farm worker organization headquartered in Immokalee, Florida, with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working conditions for farm workers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance with national and international human rights standards. The CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food has won unprecedented support for fundamental farm labor reforms from retail food industry leaders. The Campaign for Fair Food taps the unique powers of all the elements of our country’s food industry: of consumers, to demand the highest ethical standards for food production; of food retailers, to use their tremendous buying power both to demand higher labor standards of their suppliers and help raise farm workers out of poverty through a price that supports sustainable production; of growers, to continuously improve their operations and meet consumer demand, keeping pace with an evolving marketplace, and, of farm workers, to help expose and fix the worst abuses and apply their unique knowledge toward modernizing, and humanizing, our farm labor system.