Date: Feb 17, 2021
Author: Antonio Saadipour Sellés
Though Valentine’s Day is widely considered a day for celebrating love and friendship, the dark truth behind some of the holiday’s beautiful flowers is mostly unknown. Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers worldwide, and 78% of the flowers exported from Colombia are imported into the United States. As workloads and production goals for flower workers have steadily increased since the 1960s, so too have the risks they face in their line of work. Colombian flower workers have been denied their right to collectively organize, and their exposure to extremely toxic pesticides, long work hours, and insufficient pay have made their livelihood a dangerous and thankless one.
What’s Going On?
On February 15th, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced H. Res. 126 to designate February 14 of each year as International Flower Workers’ Day “in acknowledgment of workers in flower-producing countries and to demonstrate the commitment of the United States to practices that respect labor rights in other countries.”
What You Can Do
Call your representative and leave them a message asking them to co-sponsor H. Res. 126. Find your representative here.
“My name is [First and Last Name] and I am a constituent from [City, State, Zip Code]. I am calling to urge Representative [Last Name] to co-sponsor H. Res. 126, just introduced by Representative Pocan designating Valentine’s Day as International Flower Workers’ Day. The U.S. must demonstrate a commitment to uphold labor rights both here and abroad. We should urge the governments of Colombia and other flower-producing countries to investigate and respond to the social and environmental impacts of the flower-producing industry to stop damage to the environment and treat flower workers with justice and dignity. I can be reached at [Email Address]. Thank you for taking the time to address to this issue.”
When we buy flowers for our loved ones, we want to know the workers who picked and wrapped the flowers are treated fairly. Pick up the phone and call your representative now to encourage our country to uphold labor rights—here and abroad!