Just last week, the CIW and Pacific Tomato Growers, one of the nation's largest tomato growers, announced a milestone agreement embodying the principles of fair wages, human rights and a voice for farmworkers for which the CIW has been fighting for so long. The agreement represents the first direct relationship between a grower and the grassroots, worker-led Coalition. Such a relationship would have been unimaginable just a couple years ago and is a profound break with literally hundreds of years of history during which farm owners have viewed farmworkers as little more than "machines in the fields."
Nonetheless, as Lucas Benitez of the CIW stated at the announcement of the agreement, "As we turn the page on this new chapter in Florida agricultural history, however, I do want to make one thing crystal clear. We are not today claiming that we have achieved the changes sought by the Campaign for Fair Food. Rather, we are announcing that we have forged a plan of action that gives us a realistic chance to bring about those changes."
The vision of a more just and humane agricultural system is teetering on the edge of becoming a reality. As a major buyer of tomatoes, Quzinos' purchasing power can contribute to pushing this reality into being or can serve to hold it back, delaying the hopes of thousands of farmworkers. With Pacific - in addition to the other leading Florida grower East Coast, two of the largest organic tomato producers, all Quiznos' leading fast food competitors, and the food service industry - now solidly behind the CIW's plan of action, there can be no acceptable excuses for Quiznos' failure to join the emerging Fair Food concensus. Justice delayed is justice denied, and unless Quiznos works with the CIW, it is supporting the intolerable status quo which is the human rights crisis in Florida agriculture.
"Quit Stalling, Quiznos!" Photoreport from the Action
With this dramatic background, a rowdy crowd - including not only a broad spectrum from clergy to students of the Denver community, but also our Fair Food companer@s from around Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Illinois and as far away as New York and Florida - convened on Quiznos headquarters. We had a simple message: Quzinos must quit stalling!
Never content with your average protest, the Fair Food activists kicked things off with a song and dance routine to the tune of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" to delivery our message.
"Quiznos, your stalling . . . is killing me (and I), I must confess I still believe (still believe) working conditions must be in line with human riiiiiighhhttts! This agreement you must sign!"
View the music video here, but beware, 'cause it'll get stuck in your head.