Tonight I had the opportunity, along with some of the other girls, to sit in on the final CIW meeting before their five day fast against Publix grocer. I have not taken Spanish since high school, so I didn’t exactly understand everything that was said, but even just sitting in the meeting was moving. The leaders started with an activity where they asked one of the men from the meeting to break a single paint stirrer, obviously not a difficult task. The leaders continued to add stirrers and the man continued to break them easily until there were 20 in his hand which he could not break. This was to demonstrate that alone, each worker did not stand a chance to make a difference but if the workers, combined with the people of the churches as well as students, united in their fight, they could not be broken. One of the most eye opening points that the leaders made was that the men and women of Immokalee were “writing history.” It is crazy to me to think that in 20 years, my children will be learning about the people that I am here working with. Everything that was said in the meeting tonight was so powerful and yet so peaceful. There was no anger in any of their voices, only pride and strength in what they were fighting for. The companies that the CIW are lobbying have wronged these workers in so many ways and yet they continue to simply ask for a conversation. That is all they want, a conversation and the ability to negotiate for fair treatment at their jobs, something that we as humans have rights to. I am very excited to see how the coming action plays out and if Publix finally responds to the CIW’s wishes. If not, I know that they will continue fighting for what is fair and just. If Publix finally signs on to the agreement it will be one of the CIW’s biggest victories to date, and something I know will be talked about for years to come, and I am so thankful that I have been given this opportunity to at least attempt to walk in solidarity with these strong, passionate, amazing people.
-Katie Denk, Junior