Lucas Benitez frees slaves working on farms in Florida. Yes, that’s right: slaves on farms in Florida, USA in 2010. And he will be joining us live Dec. 10 (International Human Rights Day) to recognize the students around New York who are speaking out against slavery and child labor.
Benitez is one of the founders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which has organized migrant tomato pickers in South Florida since 1993. After years of struggle, on Nov. 16 (yes, just last week!) the coalition finally signed an agreement with the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange that will give pickers a wage increase of one cent per pound for tomatoes picked for corporations like Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Whole Foods.
One penny per pound may not sound significant, but if you do the math, you see that this will translate into a 60% raise for these workers. In addition, since this is the first raise these workers have received since the 1970’s, we begin to appreciate the magnitude of this victory.
During the web event on Dec. 10, we will discuss child labor and forced labor in the cocoa fields of West Africa, and the truth about child labor in agriculture in the United States. Lucas Benitez will bring his real life experience of child labor, slave labor, and exploited migrant farm labor to the event.
Please join us Friday at www.sttplive.org!