The Pension Boards-United Church of Christ, as part of its social responsibility and advocacy efforts, joined with other faith-based investors, activists, and justice advocates to support the following petition, which called upon Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to protect the health of migrant farmworkers in Immokalee, an agricultural community in Florida, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Signing this petition expresses the Pension Boards' voice of support to vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic, and adheres to our corporate social responsibility mission within the world of faith and finance to promote the need for basic human rights, not just for the Immokalee migrant workers, but for the world,” said the Rev. Richard Walters, PBUCC’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility. “As the church, may we rise together to raise our collective voices for those in great need."
Below is the petition signed by the Rev. Walters, followed by links to related articles including Gov. DeSantis’ response:
Petition on Migrant Farmworkers
Floridians are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis to immediately take all the possible steps, along with the local and federal government, to protect farmworkers in Immokalee from the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with the following urgent measures:
1. Set up a field hospital, or alternative care facility, in Immokalee to provide both treatment for COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, and a separate quarantine space to allow workers with milder symptoms to self-isolate, to stop the spread of the virus in the community and relieve stress on the local health system.
2. Require agricultural employers to provide personal protective gear, particularly masks, to farmworkers for use while they are traveling to and from the fields.
3. Ensure comprehensive, free, accessible COVID-19 testing in Immokalee, when widespread testing becomes available.
4. Allocate public funds for economic relief for Florida farmworkers.
Unless these measures are taken, Immokalee will become an epicenter of contagion with grave consequences not only for the agricultural community of Immokalee but also for the agricultural industry of Florida and the food supply chain of the entire United States.
Make no mistake: Immokalee is like dry tinder in the path of a wildfire.
The federal government has officially declared farmworkers as part of the “critical infrastructure workforce”. Like firefighters and doctors, farmworkers are going into the fields each day so we can survive this crisis.
But here’s the problem: farmworkers are more vulnerable – at home and at work – to contracting the coronavirus. They live in overcrowded housing, are transported in packed vans and buses, and too often have no personal protective gear. Furthermore, Immokalee does not have a hospital to quarantine and treat positive cases.
Simply put, without farmworkers, there is no food. A crisis in Immokalee will affect not only the residents of Southwest Florida, but also millions of families around the country who are depending on the shelves of their local supermarkets to be stocked in the months ahead.
Governor DeSantis: Take action now!
P.S. Want to help the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' on-the-ground efforts?
DONATE TODAY: https://makeallfoodfairfood.funraise.org/
As a result of these requests the Governor responded as noted in the following articles.
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