Thursday, May 11, 2006

Miami Mothers Urge Dole Fresh Flowers to Keep its Promises on Mother's Day

On Friday, May 12th at noon, an alliance of mothers, faith leaders and community members will rally in front of Dole Fresh Flowers headquarters at 10055 NW 12th Street in MIAMI to urge the company to keep its promise to negotiate with flower workers in Colombia, most of whom are women and face dangerous working conditions every day.

Backed by a wall of paper flowers representing the 700 workers at the Dole-owned Splendor plantation in Colombia, a delegation of local mothers will present a Mother's Day card to the company in support of the women flower workers, 70% of whom are also mothers.

"Women in the United States can have a powerful voice on issues impacting women around the world. As consumers we have a responsibility to speak up when there is injustice," said Sophie Brion, Director of the Women's Advocacy Project, an initiative of Women's Fund of Miami-Dade. "We are joining together because our voices can change the way women are treated around the world."

In November 2004, flower workers at the Splendor plantations formed the first independent and democratic union at Dole's operations in Colombia. During the peak seasons around Valentine's and Mother's Days, employees at the Splendor plantation say they work up to 80 hours per week, without overtime pay, and earn less than $180 per month. Colombian flower workers are often terminated or do not have their job contracts renewed if they become pregnant while employed at the plantation, according to the union.

"Together, we can shine a light on the negative actions of U.S.-based companies. On May 12th we will raise our voices in support of Colombian flower workers' efforts to win fair wages, workplace safety, and the right to know that getting pregnant does not mean getting fired. These are basic rights that any employee should have," said Carolina Delgado, membership director of South Florida Jobs with Justice.

To date, Dole Fresh Flowers denies any wrong-doing in Colombia, according to the union, and despite a September 2005 commitment to negotiate with union representatives, no progress has been made to consider an election by workers to determine union representation. Miami-based Dole Fresh Flowers is the largest employer of flower workers and owns 20% of the Colombian flower industry.

The rally is organized by a coalition of groups consisting of South Florida Jobs with Justice, Unite for Dignity and Women's Fund of Miami-Dade-Women's Advocacy Project and is endorsed by International Labor Rights Fund.

South Florida Jobs with Justice is a non-profit coalition of nearly 40 academic, worker and religious organizations and over 4,500 individual members who strive to improve the rights of working families. Jobs with Justice uses public education and persuasion to assist workers in the South Florida region.

Unite for Dignity is an immigrant workers' rights organization building new leaders to fight for improved conditions in workplaces and community in South Florida.

Women's Fund of Miami-Dade is a catalyst for social change, creating a community where all women and girls reach their full potential. The Fund's Women's Advocacy Project works to amplify the voices of women and girls in Miami-Dade, particularly immigrant women, and those who are survivors of domestic violence.

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