Protesters, puppets and Publix. The link? Farm workers and the goal of a fair food industry. On Sat, March 5,the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) will lead a march and rally in Tampa calling for Publix to do their part in ending the mistreatment of those who pick the tomatoes they buy. The marchers will take off at 10 a.m. and noon from four different Publix locations and come together at the Publix on 1313 Dale Mabry Highway.
The CIW, a group that fights for better wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers, has been acting to involve big corporations in their campaign. Jordan Buckley, a member of the Interfaith Action Network, one of the groups that supports the CIW, said that this rally “takes off Publix’s statement in December that, ‘If there’s some atrocities going on, it’s not our business.’” Buckley said those atrocities include labor abuse, sexual harassment and enslavement of tomato pickers.
And that’s where the puppets come into play. According to thesis student and CIW member Andrea Ortiz, the marchers will carry large puppets and use them to put on a theatrical performance at the Publix on Dale Mabry. “The puppets will be used to demonstrate those atrocities and also to show how, with our human led resistance, we can turn those atrocities into new hopes,” Ortiz said.
Groups of New College students will be attending the march and rally. Ortiz said that caravans carrying students will leave from the Sudakoff Conference Center at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. The earlier caravans will head for one of the four Publix starting points for the march, while the last caravan will go straight to the final rally point.
“In the past, New College students have been one of largest supporters of the CIW. We’ve had hundreds of students go to Chicago, Miami and various other places to demonstrate on behalf of the farm workers, so we hope they continue to show such strong support and show they take these issues seriously.”
Those wanting to attend the march and rally should contact Ortiz by noon on March 4 in order to arrange rides.