By Eric Gottwald, International Labor Rights Forum
Sixty percent of flowers sold in the United States come from Colombia, where nearly 100,000 workers earn poverty wages in spite of working grueling 16 to 18 hour days. When flower workers, the majority of whom are women, try to organize to improve their working conditions they inevitably face government-sanctioned retaliation, firings, sexual harassment, and even beatings. With the recent passage of U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Colombian flower exporters stand to gain tens of millions of dollars on the backs of these exploited workers.
That's why the International Labor Rights Forum and the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project are asking consumers to help turn Valentine’s Day into International Flower Workers' Day by taking action to support flower workers. Already, just this morning, over 1000 consumers have sent letters to the Colombian Labor Minister demanding that the government fulfill its promise to hold Colombian flower companies accountable for labor rights abuses.