Push to buy local on Valentine's Day -- a thorn to the side of flower industry

Posted at 6:40 PM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-14 20:10:39-05
Flower sales are up across Northeast Ohio for Valentine's day. But a bouquet of your loved ones favorite roses might come at an expense greater than the price on the tag. 
With one carefully placed flower at a time the staff of Lush and Lovely Floristry create a display of affection. It’s the company’s first alentine’s day since opening in Ohio City this October, and already they are doing things a little different. "no red, that was our rule, no red roses” said owner Brianna Jones.
Another rule, to make it a priority to sell flowers grown right here in the United States. “We cater to a very specific kind of taste,” said Jones. Jones believes her clients share her belief of ensuring Americans get a piece of this profitable holiday.
“I truly believe in keeping jobs in America, so by sourcing my flowers from American farms... you are keeping farmers in work,” said Jones.

An estimated 80% of U.S. flowers are imported from Colombia. And in recent years, the push to buy local has centered not only on jobs but also on the conditions of the workers there. “If someone cuts 2500 flowers a day they might make $1 an hour,” said Chrissy Stonebraker-Martinez.

For years, the InterReligious Task Force on Central America has spoken out against what they say are the inhumane working conditions in Colombian flower fields. Yet there’s one factor that has made it an uphill battle.
“Cost. A dozen fair trade roses from Heinens, they say, will cost you $24.99…you can get unethical flowers for $9.99,” said Stonebraker-Martinez.
But Jones says she or her clients are not willing to bargain on their moral stance. “I don’t support it. I don’t want to support it” said Jones.
On Monday, Congressman Keith Ellison introduced a bill to designate February 14 as "International Flower Workers' Day."
He says the move would demonstrate U.S.' commitment to practice and respect labor rights in other countries.