CREATED Mar. 3, 2013
NAPLES, Fla.- Farmworkers fight for rights in Florida's field. The group is walking 200 miles to spread the message.
Oscar Otzoy is a farm worker. He picks tomatoes in the fields in Immokalee. Oscar and the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers continue their fight to persuade Publix to sign a fair food agreement. Fox 4 spoke to him today with the help of a translator.
"Under, the fair trade program and in the last 2 years, we've seen dramatic changes in fields. Workers have access to shade, access to water and are paid a penny per pound bonus to add to already poverty wages," said Otzoy with the help of a translator.
The group started at Terry Park in Fort Myers on Sunday and then walked more than 2.5 miles to the Publix on McGregor Blvd.
They're then traveling by foot for 2 weeks to the Publix headquarters in Lakeland. Farmworkers have been asking the supermarket for years to sign the agreement that would improve wages and working conditions for farm workers. Other big names like Subway and Trader Joe's have signed on.
"This is not a favor farmworkers are asking for, this is human rights, this is justice," said Lis-Marie Alvarado.
So why hasn't Publix joined in on the agreement? A Publix spokeswoman told me in the past this boils down to a labor dispute and they don't get involved. She adds if farmworkers want an extra penny per pound of tomatoes they should put that in the cost they charge the industry.
Farmworkers continue to fight for justice in Florida's fields.
"You have to know where your food is coming from and you have to know there's situations you can make a difference and this is something you can...support farmworkers rights," said Lis-Marie Alvarado.
Publix sent us the following statement in the past: "We do not have a conflict with the CIW. The CIW is seeking to negotiate wages and working conditions of employment with the growers and the CIW is trying to drag Publix into these negotiations. This is a labor dispute and we simply aren’t involved. As you know, tomatoes are just one example of the more than 35,000 products sold in our stores. With so many products available for sale to customers, the reality is that there is the potential for countless ongoing disputes between suppliers and their employees at any given time. Publix has a long history of non-intervention in such disputes."