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Mother's Day Flowers and the Mothers who Pick Them

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Columbian workers pay high price for Mom's gifts

Thousands of workers, mostly female and many themselves mothers, toil on flower plantations in Columbia to farm, cut and trim the flowers many of us will give our mom on Sunday. From the AFL-CIO Blog:

This Mother's Day, remember the mothers in Colombia who grew, cut and trimmed the flowers you receive. Six days a week, Amanda Camacho and thousands of her co-workers at flower plantations in Colombia cut and trim at least 350 flowers an hour. In the weeks before holidays like Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, the work extends deep into the night - all for about $8 a day, less than the cost of a bouquet of carnations in the United States.

More than 60 percent of the flowers sold in the United States come from Colombia. Two-thirds of the nearly 100,000 flower workers in Colombia are women, many working mothers. They often are required to work 12 to 15 hours a day with few breaks. Although they generally work long hours, the flower workers often are denied overtime pay.

(Picture) Amanda Camacho, flower worker and union activist in ColumbiaThe struggle of these workers to organize for a better life in the most dangerous country on earth to be a union member is the focus of a tour next week sponsored by the International Labor Rights Forum's (ILRF) Fairness in Flowers campaign.

Amanda Camacho (pictured at right with her 10-year old son), is a Colombian union leader and activist who has worked six days a week cutting 350 flowers an hour for 14 years. She says she's stayed on for so long to organize her co-workers and improve working conditions. Camacho is the featured speaker on ILRF tour.

"The fight now is to organize more workers. The only way to enforce your rights is to organize."