Shining a spotlight on the abuse and exploitation of migrant workers, Sen. Bernie Sanders released an evocative video on Saturday depicting the lives of working families struggling to survive. By continuing to fight against abusive labor practices, Sanders remains the only presidential candidate consistently battling for fair wages and safe working conditions.
“I will always fight,” Udelia Chautla says in Spanish as the video opens. “As long as I can see my children happy and well, I will continue fighting to provide them with the best. My children are the motor that drives my life.”
Traveling from Mexico, Chautla arrived in Immokalee, Florida, and immediately went to work in the fields picking tomatoes for a large agricultural company. Struggling to survive on less than minimum wage while raising her three young children, Chautla could barely afford enough food to feed her family.
“There were cases of bosses abusing workers,” Chautla speaks about working in the fields of southern Florida. “They would not provide workers with water or restrooms. The bosses would get angry because some of the men wouldn’t want to keep working and start hitting them. At night, I would cry sometimes because what you earn isn’t enough. It affected my children because I didn’t have enough to buy food.”
In 2010, Chautla began protesting alongside her fellow workers with the Fair Food campaign. The campaign asks corporations to pay one cent per pound of tomatoes to provide workers with better pay and benefits. Chautla explains, “I joined because I thought it was important for there to be people that wanted to improve working conditions since not many seemed to care.”
In January 2008, Sanders visited Immokalee to meet with migrant workers who were being ruthlessly exploited. Paid starvation wages and physically abused at work, they had lost their basic human rights. After inviting leaders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Washington to testify during a Senate committee hearing regarding abusive labor practices, Sanders helped to improve working conditions in Immokalee with workers receiving a wage increase.
“Bernie Sanders took interest in the lives of the workers and wanted to hear their struggles,” Udelia asserts. “Politicians never came to Immokalee. He didn’t keep silent about what he witnessed here in Immokalee.”
“But how many more Immokalees are there?” Sanders asks. “How many fields or factories are there? We have to ask ourselves ‘who benefits from this exploitation?’ And to understand that it is not only the Immokalee workers who suffer but every worker in America because that pushes us in a race to the bottom.”
Instead of fighting for the basic human rights of migrant workers in Immokalee and elsewhere throughout the country, Hillary Clinton has been busy using her husband to allegedly break election laws while campaigning for her within 150 feet of several polling stations on Super Tuesday. A petition at Change.org has garnered over 100,000 signatures calling for the former president’s immediate arrest and prosecution for violating Massachusetts electioneering laws. And while calling for equal pay for women, as a U.S. Senator, Hillary Clinton reportedly only paid her female staffers 72 cents for every dollar paid to the men in her office.
Notorious for his complete lack of respect or compassion for his employees, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, also known as “Drumpf,” ironically threatens to deport migrant workers while employing them for decades to build his various real estate projects. Using migrant workers to construct Trump Tower in Manhattan, Trump was sued after cheating more than 200 undocumented Polish immigrants out of wages and benefits. While repeatedly challenging his workers’ attempts to unionize and threatening to deport their families, Trump is steadily leading a march toward American fascism.
If elected president, Sanders promises to do everything in his power to put an end to the exploitation of both migrant and domestic workers. Instead of threatening to tear apart families or abusing migrant workers, Sanders remains the only presidential candidate displaying integrity and compassion for his fellow human beings.