I just read an article about forced labor in agriculture in Florida on the website for The Nation. I’m sure you know that I was disgusted. It turns out that there are farms in FL, and I would suspect other states, that hold workers hostage, beat them, and keep them in inhumane conditions so that they can harvest the fruits and veggies that we eat every day. Here are a few of the examples noted in the article:
When the visitor steps out of the truck he sees a panel which gets to the heart of CIW’s analysis around modern slavery–that it’s not something that takes place in a vacuum, but it’s tied to the broader conditions in the agriculture industry–sub-poverty wages and substandard working conditions; from the earliest days of slavery through today, farmworkers in Florida are among the least paid and least protected workers in the nation.
On the panel are two artifacts to drive home that message: the bloody shirt of a 17-year old boy who was beaten in 1996 for stopping to take a drink of water while working in Immokalee. In response, there was a nighttime march by 400 workers to the crew leader’s house. This was a significant moment in CIW’s history because that kind of violence was routine and never received a widespread organized response.
You won’t even believe this quote
In the southeast, that means Publix. When asked whether the supermarket continues to purchase from farms that were recently found to use slave labor a Publix spokesperson “said the chain does purchase tomatoes from the two farms but pays a fair market price.”
So now it’s okay to use people as slaves as long as those that are working those in slavery are compensated with a fair market price? Come on, that’s ridiculous. I’m glad that the Coalition for Immokalee Workers has put together a traveling museum to highlight the cases of abuse and help put a stop to forced labor.
What does this have to do with personal finance? Everything! We all say that we want access to affordable goods so that we can keep our families in a measurable state of comfort, however too often we don’t think about what’s being done to provide those services and products at that low price. Are you willing to contribute to the enslavement of others in order to have tacos and burritos that are a few cents cheaper?
Write to Publix, Chipotle, etc. and tell them that we WILL NOT contribute to the enslavement of any people.