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Tennessee statewide day of action for farmworker justice

By Preston Gilmore |
July 23, 2013
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Nashville protest slams Publix.
Above:
Nashville protest slams Publix. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Clarksville picket demands justice. Murfreesboro protest for farmworker justice. Publix confronted in Knoxville.
Left:
Publix confronted in Knoxville. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Center:
Murfreesboro protest for farmworker justice (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Right:
Clarksville picket demands justice. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Clarksville, TN - In six cities across the state of Tennessee on July 20, people held pickets and delivered letters to Publix managers urging the Publix grocery store chain to join the Fair Food Program that would improve wages and working conditions for tomato pickers in Florida.

So far eleven major companies have signed on to the Fair Food Program, developed by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Yet, despite massive protests, marches, hunger strikes and demonstrations around the country, for four years Publix has refused to even sit at the table to discuss joining this program that would not only help farmworkers get a better wage, but would also help to put an end to pervasive human rights abuses in Florida tomato fields.

In Nashville, Zach Blume with the Student Farmworker Alliance at Vanderbilt University said, “Publix, if you want to move into Tennessee we need you to expand your human rights!” This sentiment was echoed across the state as picketers in Clarksville held a banner that read, “Publix: sign on to Fair Food” and chanted “No more slaves! Pay a living wage!” outside of the two Publix locations in the area. A member of Students for a Democratic Society who helped organize the demonstration in Clarksville said, “We are asking Publix to follow the words of its founder and ‘not let making a profit get in the way of doing the right thing.’ We want Publix to do the right thing and sign on to Fair Food, a program that ensures the basic rights and respects the dignity of farmworkers.”

For several years Publix has been steadily expanding its stores into the state of Tennessee and July 20 marks the first time that organizers have come together across the state to collectively put the heat on one the Southeast region’s largest food store chains. Protesters made their message to Publix very clear and could be heard from Knoxville to Clarksville, chanting “Publix, escucha! Estamos en la lucha!” meaning “Publix, listen up! We’re in the fight!”

Organizers plan to continue building the fight back in Tennessee against attacks on farmworkers. More information about the CIW and the Fair Food Program can be found at: www.CIW-online.org. For more information about the Fair Food Campaign in Tennessee visit: www.NashvilleFairFood.wordpress.com.

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