Mobile Slavery Museum Hopes To Change Labor Conditions For Farmworkers
GAINESVILLE - Slavery didn't end with the emancipation proclamation. In fact today it still haunts Florida's fields. Farm workers have been held in slave- like conditions in more than one case here in North Central Florida. The mobile Florida Modern Slavery Museum is in Gainesville hoping to change those conditions.
Slavery is not just a thing of the past. The Florida Modern Slavery Museum is in Gainesville hoping to reveal cruelty in the fields of Florida. Cruz Salucio, has been working in the fields of Immokalee for almost a decade now. He's with the coalition of Immokalee workers and wants people to know about the problems he's faced.
"Our dignity and our respect is often not given to us. Workers receive daily violations of their rights including physical abuse, verbal abuse, violence and often times we're not allowed to speak out for fear of retaliation... We are not treated as human beings in this field, but rather as machines," Cruz Salucio said.
In Immokalee, more than a dozen workers were held in a box truck like this one and taken to the fields to work during the day but locked up at night. This is one of the many slavery cases prosecuted here in Florida. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is trying to come up with solutions... One of those solutions is the "fair food agreement," it benefits the working conditions of tomato harvesters.
Jake Ratner with Just Harvest USA said, "One corporation that has resisted coming on board despite 11 other companies that have already joining this program is Publix, the major supermarket based here in Florida... The wealthiest corporation here. After four years of asking Publix to come on board they've continued to turn their backs to us."
For Laura Hernandez a freshman at UF, this mobile display was an eye-opener. "It kind of made me want to get involved a little bit and see what we can do for them as a student here," Hernandez said. The mobile museum was on campus Wednesday, September 18th and will be at the Trinity United Methodist Church, 4000 NW 53rd Avenue, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday September 19th.
TV20 contacted Publix for a response. They directed us to a news release on their website. Which places the responsibility for paying a fair wage on the shoulders of those who supply the supermarket.
These are some of the events the CIW is having during their Action Week:
Wednesday, Sept. 18th in Pugh Hall Room 170 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.: “Rape in the Fields,” a documentary about sexual exploitation of women farm workers. CIW members will be present at the screening and will be able to engage the audience in dialogue about the Campaign for Fair Food, which includes remedies to end sexual harassment/violence.
Saturday, September 21st in the Alachua County Public Library at 400 East University Avenue from 11 a.m. through 1 p.m.: Lake Apopka Farm Workers Quilt Project will have a program, discussion and refreshments.
Sunday, September 22nd in the Westminster Presbyterian Church at 1521 NW 34th Street at 2 p.m.: To announce during a press conference, a new phase in the Fair Food Campaign. A march for farm worker rights will follow.
For more info on CIW Week of Action, check out their Facebook page.
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