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Immokalee: A Story Of Slavery And Freedom

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Blood on the Tomatoes

Brutal exploitation of farm workers, including slavery and indentured servitude, continues to plague thousands in the fields and groves of south Florida.

This is the story behind America's cheap domestic produce.

Immokalee is the name of one of the largest agricultural worker centers. Workers toil in the sun for 10-12 hours a day, and hope to scrape together $50. The amount paid per bucket of tomatoes has barely crept up about 15 cents in as many years.

That wasn't even the worst of it: physical violence and abuse of workers was systemic.

This documentary shows the how the workers organized, forming CIW, the Coalition of Immokalee Worker and have succeeded in raising wages and ending the violence.

Among other things, they organized a 3 year long campaign to boycott Taco Bell, the biggest purchaser of these tomatoes, resulting in a real breakthrough: in 2005 Taco Bell agreed to work with CIW to address the wages and working conditions of farm workers in the Florida tomato industry.

With this agreement, they were the first in the fast food industry to directly help improve farm workers wages.

"Yes, Immokalee is still poor... but now we've raised the voice of the worker and from here we have affected the whole country" one resident says. "We are going to be here until this industry becomes democratized and respects us."

--Bibi Farber

This documentary was produced by Jeff Imig