Religious Leaders Send a Valentine to Agricultural Giant Dole

The following is a press release issued by the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project.

Chicago, IL, February 12, 2008- "People of faith in the U.S. are increasingly convinced that our companies should be expected to uphold moral standards with workers in operations abroad," according to a letter released today by thirteen US religious leaders for Valentine's Day. The letter, sent to Dole Fresh Flowers President and CEO David DeLorenzo, requests that the company pursue a fair and positive working relationship with flower workers in their operations overseas. This issue is particularly poignant for religious leaders as houses of worship of all faiths are major consumers of flowers for decoration and religious ceremony.

"We cannot relish or recommend the products that are the result of deprivation of the workers of their rights, forced overtime, over-exposure to pesticide and other exploitive practices," wrote Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, the National Director of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

In the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, flower workers are often required to work 12-15 hour days with few breaks and are subjected to increased productivity quotas. According to Charity Ryerson, USLEAP Program Coordinator, "flower workers routinely undergo repetitive stress injuries, health problems related to over-exposure to pesticides, and humiliating and degrading treatment by management." Dole is the largest producer and exporter of fresh cut flowers from Latin America to the United States, supplying 60% of the U.S. flower market.

This letter was organized by the US Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP), who has been pressuring Dole to address worker right concerns since 2004. Interested consumers and advocates for worker rights can learn more about the Flower Campaign at http://usleap.org/node/94

The letter follows ….
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