By Amanda Kloer
Today brings another update on the ongoing efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to eliminate slave labor in Florida agriculture, labor which provides tomatoes to McDonald’s and Burger King, among other major chains. Earlier this month, more than 120 farm workers and protested in Tallahassee, asking Florida Governor Charlie Crist to meet with them. Crist didn’t show up for that meeting, but he did speak with CIW today.
“It was a very intimate dialogue, but there is a lot of work to do,” said Gerardo Reyes, a CIW member. The coalition had complained that some workers are forced to work the fields and then chained at night, and they said the workers haven’t received a raise since 1978. They said the average worker makes about $10,000 a year. They asked Crist to clarify his opposition to such treatment and use his voice to eliminate slavery and low wages.
While CIW and other anti-slavery activists have made tremendous improvements in the lives of migrant workers in Florida, this battle will wage on until McDonald’s and Company steps up to the plate and makes a slavery-free supply chain a priority or lawmakers like Crist step in and force compliance to labor standards.
I’ll let you know when that happens. But until then, everything you order off the dollar menu still comes with a side of McSlavery.