Sunday, May 13, 2012

Support the moms who cut Mother's Day flowers

Flower worker Dolores Acero in the U.S. with flowers probably cut in Colombia.
Those Mother's Day flowers were probably cut by a poor woman in Colombia who's abused by her employer and can't form a union.

Colombian flower workers earn $2 a day for flowers that retail for as much as $800. They're forced to take pregnancy tests when they apply for a job and are often fired if they get pregnant on the job. Sometimes they're sprayed with pesticides while they're working.

USLEAP, the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project, campaigns to improve wages and working conditions for Colombian flower workers.

USLEAP tells us:
Flower workers are primarily women who work long hours, especially before holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, are paid poverty-level wages, and face hazardous working conditions...
About 100,000 flower workers are employed in Colombia, most of whom are women; almost a third are single mothers.
In July 2008, Dole, which was the largest grower and exporter in Colombia, signed contracts with two flower worker unions in Colombia.  It took the workers nearly four years of struggle to win these first contracts and hundreds of workers lost their jobs during the fight.  In early 2009, Dole sold off its Latin American flower operations; the Colombian operations were taken over by FlorAmerica/Sunburst.  In late 2010, FlorAmerica closed one union plantation and sharply cut back operations at the two other unionized plantations. 
In early 2009, Floramerica-Sunburst took over the Dole Fresh Flower operations in Colombia, the largest in the country with 8,000 workers and three unionized plantations. In the fall of 2010, the company dismissed hundreds of workers, shut down one union plantation, severely cut back operations at two other union plantations, and left thousands of workers without pay and benefits.  Workers who organized for their rights were beaten. The primary owners of the operation, the Nannetti brothers, claim financial hardship while thousands of workers are left without pay and punished for demanding their rights. Read more about the struggle here.

USLEAP tells us how we can help the flower workers here.