Sanders ad highlights plight of migrant workers in Florida

Story highlights

  • A new Bernie Sanders campaign ad is highlighting the plight of migrant workers in Florida in an appeal to the Sunshine State's Latino population
  • The ad, titled "Tenemos Familias" ("We Have Families") isn't a typical campaign spot -- it's a five-minute mini-documentary narrated almost entirely in Spanish with English subtitles
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(CNN)A new Bernie Sanders campaign ad is highlighting the plight of migrant workers in Florida in an appeal to the Sunshine State's Latino population days ahead of the March 15 primary.

The ad, titled "Tenemos Familias" ("We Have Families") isn't a typical campaign spot -- it's a five-minute mini-documentary narrated almost entirely in Spanish with English subtitles, spotlighting an immigrant mother named Udelia Chautla who moved her family from Mexico to Immokalee, Florida, where she works as a labor worker picking tomatoes.
    In the ad, she talks about her experiences working in the fields with low wages and poor working conditions, which led her to join protests with the Fair Food campaign in 2010. The protesters were asking corporations to pay one cent per pound more for tomatoes to provide labor workers with better pay and benefits.
    "There were cases of bosses abusing workers," Chautla says in Spanish. "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 ... It affected my children because I didn't have enough to buy food."
    Chautla continues by talking about Sanders' efforts as a senator to help the workers. He traveled to Immokalee and met with labor workers in 2008, and then invited the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Washington to testify during a Senate committee hearing regarding abusive labor practices. As a result, the ad says, their working conditions improved and they received a wage increase.
    "Bernie Sanders took interest in the lives of the workers and wanted to hear their struggles," Udelia says. "Politicians never came to Immokalee. He didn't keep silent about what he witnessed here in Immokalee."
    The spot will air nationwide Thursday night on Univision. The Sanders campaign said in a statement that "it is unprecedented for the Spanish-language network to run an ad this long and it will alter its prime-time schedule to accommodate the spot."
    Tad Devine, senior strategist for Sanders' campaign, is hoping that an advertisement like this, in conjunction with outreach on the ground, will show Americans that Sanders cares about those who have been "left out and left behind."
    "It's a great example of the kind of fights that have characterized his entire career," Devine told CNN.
    Devine confirms that this is the first locally placed advertisement by the Sanders campaign in the expensive Florida television market. The spot will also be running in Tucson and Chicago in a few weeks ahead of Arizona and Illinois' primaries.
    The campaign realizes that Florida is an uphill battle. Sanders has not campaigned in Florida recently, and the closed primary is a disadvantage for the Sanders campaign. A Quinnipiac University poll released late last month found Clinton walloping Sanders 59% to 33% in the state.
    "I think Florida is going to be a challenge," Devine admitted, adding, "We have done better in states with open primaries like New Hampshire, but we plan to fight very hard in Florida."
    The Latino vote is influential in Florida, a swing state. In 2012, President Barack Obama won Florida in the general election by less than 1% of the vote. A report by CNN en Español and CUNY's Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies shows that 60% of Latinos voted for Obama, which helped him win the state.
    The report also projects that in 2016, eligible Latinos will comprise more than 20% of the vote in Florida.