Immokalee Workers Swell Crowd in
[The following article
[Over the past half dozen years or more, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has led mostly immigrant farm workers, especially tomato pickers, in a successful boycott of Taco Bell that resulted in a raise for tomato pickers, whose wages had been frozen for twenty years. The Immokalee Workers are currently taking on McDonalds, demanding that it too should provide more income to the extremely low-paid workers who bring the tomatoes to McDonalds’ table.—Labor Standard]
As many as 75,000 demonstrators
marched Monday on
The protest grew from a gathering that initially drew a few thousand but burgeoned as the day went on. By , the crowd had grown to 10,000.
By evening, the Naples Daily News and The News-Press of Fort Myers reported, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office estimated that the crowd had swelled to 75,000—by far the largest demonstration in Florida during Monday’s nationwide day of protests.
Many of those who converged on
Veronica Ramirez, 19, a native of
“It gives you motivation to keep
fighting,” said Ramirez, who has worked in the tomato fields since she came to
Ramirez said she is still very worried that even if an immigration-reform bill was passed allowing immigrants who have been in the country at least five years to legalize their status, she will still be illegal.
“I have been working hard, as hard as people who have been here five years,” Ramirez said.
Other protests in
Florida, home to as many as 880,000
illegal immigrants, had kept a low profile in the controversial debate, which
has seen hundreds of thousands of people [read:
millions] take to the streets in California and Texas. That started to
change during the weekend, with protests drawing thousands in Orlando and
A group largely made up of Mexican immigrants gathered in front of the Volusia County Courthouse on Monday afternoon.
“Power is in numbers,” Marcos Crisanto, a farmworkers activist, told the cheering crowd. [Emphasis added.]
It was part of a coordinated effort across the nation that brought as many as 500,000 protesters to Washington, D.C., chanting Si, se puede—“Yes, we can”—and carrying signs declaring, “We are America.”
Organizers of the march on the
National Mall tabbed attendance at a half-million; police would give no official
estimate. Protests in
[Note by Labor Standard:
The protests came after partisan
disagreements in the Senate on Friday left in doubt the future of a compromise
bill that could provide
The House bill, passed in December, would make being an illegal immigrant a felony, make it a crime to help them and called for building a [700-mile] fence along the nation’s [2,000-mile] border with Mexico.
There are an estimated 12 million
illegal immigrants in the