The National Farm Worker Ministry congratulates the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Chipotle Mexican Grill on the October 4th signing of the Fair Food Agreement! We thank our many supporters who wrote letters, visited stores, marched with the CIW and worked tirelessly to bring a message of fairness and equality on behalf of tomato farm [...]
by NFWM Director Virginia Nesmith I was honored to be part of a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) event that lifted farm workers up for national recognition. On March 26th, the “Pioneers of the Farm Worker Movement” were inducted into the DOL’s Hall of Honor and the Cesar Chavez Auditorium was dedicated. The event was [...]
Farmworkers, Religious Leaders, Consumers to hold 6-Day “Fast for Fair Food” outside Publix Corporate Headquarters in Florida
NFWM’s Youth & Young Adult Network and NFWM Director Virginia Nesmith will join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and other supporters for the culmination of the CIW’s fast outside Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland, Florida, on March 10th. For details about joining YAYA, visit the YAYA website. From the CIW press release for The Fast [...]
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the grocery chain Trader Joe’s announced yesterday, February 9, 2012, that they have signed an agreement that formalizes the ways in which Trader Joe’s will work with the CIW and Florida tomato growers to support the CIW’s Fair Food Program. CIW’s Fair Food Program combines the Fair Food Code [...]
by Bert Perry, NFWM Florida Over a decade ago the Coalition of Immokalee Workers called upon the Florida office of the National Farm Worker Ministry to accompany them to a meeting with the Governor’s office in Tallahassee. We have journeyed with the CIW since that time. NFWM was a founder in Religious Leaders Concerned which [...]
Tess Browne, SCN, former NFWM Board member who represented her community, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, is now active with the Massachusetts Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and has been participating them in actions in the Boston area to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Campaign for Fair Food . On November 8, 2010, Tess and other activists delivered hundreds of postcards to Ahold USA, the parent company of Stop & Shop, one of the grocery chains CIW is targeting in its campaign, and sought a meeting with Ahold representatives.
Although they were denied a meeting then, CIW allies in the Boston area were able, this February,t o speak with Harriet Hentges, Ahold USA’s Vice President for Corporate Responsibility, about the supermarket chain’s refusal to sign a Fair Food agreement with the CIW . These activities are in preparation for CIW’s “Do the Right Thing” Tour in the Northeast. On Sunday, February 27th, marchers will gather in Copley Square for a peaceful rally featuring live music and addresses from CIW members and allies, then march to the Brigham Circle Stop & Shop grocery store. There, the march will culminate in a spirited action calling on Ahold USA to do its part to end farm worker abuse and exploitation! For more information on the tour, click HERE.
Tess Browne, SCN, second from left, and Boston faith allies deliver hundreds of postcards to Stop & Shop headquarters in Boston last November.
The following Op-Ed was published January 10, 2011 in gainesville.com, the on-line version of the Gainesville Sun. The author, Dr. Sam Trickey, is a member and Past President of the Board of Directors of the National Farm Worker Ministry.
Sam Trickey: Time to stop human trafficking
January 11th is worldwide Human Trafficking Awareness Day. According to the State Department’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons report, “the majority of modern slaves (are) in agriculture and mining around the world.”
It happens here. Last July, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted 3 people for holding over 50 farm workers in northern Alachua County. The Haitianrs were brought in on H-2A agricultural guestworker visas, promised three years work, and good pay. Upon arrival, their employers confiscated their passports and visas.
The indictment says the workers were “denied necessary medical care” and suffered “chronic hunger, weight loss, illness and fatigue.” If workers complained about the conditions they were threatened with deportation. One of the females reported being raped.
Sadly, this is just one of many disgraces in Florida’s fields. Since 1997, federal officials have produced seven Florida farm worker slavery convictions. Over 1,100 farmworkers have been liberated from slavery in Florida’s fields. A major bust in East Palatka in June, 2005, led to convictions.
NFWM congratulates the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) for the landmark agreements they won this month for farm workers in the Florida tomato fields. CIW announced the first formal agreement with a tomato grower, Pacific Tomato Growers, on Oct. 14; and announced a similar agreement a week later with Florida’s largest tomato grower, Six L’s.
NFWM staff, board and supporters around the country, and especially NFWM-Florida and NFWM-YAYA, have been actively working with the CIW on its Fair Food Campaign since the campaign began.
From the CIW/Pacific press release:
“Pacific Tomato Growers, one of the country’s oldest and largest tomato producers, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the Florida-based farm worker organization spearheading the Campaign for Fair Food, have signed an innovative agreement that sets new standards for social responsibility and accountability in Florida’s tomato industry.
The agreement represents a significant step forward in the CIW’s decade-long campaign for labor reforms in Florida’s tomato industry. Not only is it the first formal agreement between the CIW and a major tomato grower, but the new accord establishes several practical systems designed to implement cooperatively the key principles of the Code of Conduct at the heart of the Campaign for Fair Food. Those principles include a joint — and, when need be, external — complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process aimed at insuring that farm workers themselves are active participants in the social responsibility efforts.”
For the entire press release, click HERE.
For more on the victories, click HERE.
Photo: Lucas Benitez, left, of the CIW shakes hands with Jon Esformes of Pacific Tomato Growers following yesterday’s press conference at Pacific’s Immokalee farm. Rev. Russell Meyer, Executive Director of Florida Council of Churches, looks on. Photo by Andrew West, Ft. Myers News-Press.
NFWM’s Bert Perry Delivers State Department’s "Trafficking in Persons" Report to Publix Headquarters
Bert Perry (right) of National Farm Worker Ministry hands Publix representative a copy of the State Department TIP report.
On Tuesday, June 29th, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, allies from Interfaith Action and the National Farm Worker Ministry, and a reporter and photographer from the Florida Catholic traveled to Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland, FL to deliver a copy of the U. S. State Department’s recently released “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP) report. The delegation had hoped to get a meeting with Publix representatives to discuss Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks on the urgent need for corporations to take responsibility for cleaning up human rights abuses in their supply chains.
Instead, they were met outside the offices at the security gate, by a Publix employee who said that he had no authority to speak on behalf of Publix. He accepted a copy of the TIP report and, after a brief exchange with NFWM’s Bert Perry, returned to Publix’s headquarters with the report.
As the CIW says, “It’s time for Publix to stop burying its head in the sand and to heed the growing call for farm labor justice. It’s time for Publix to meet with the CIW and join the growing partnership for real supply chain accountability.”
In related news, at the State Department’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report ceremony on June 14th, CIW’s Laura Germino was recognized as an “anti-Trafficking Hero.” In his introduction of Laura, Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca said, “There have been many cases exposing servitude for both sex and labor in Florida. And the Coalition of the Immokalee Workers and Laura Germino have always been there. They’ve been important partners and, more importantly, an independent and pressing voice as they uncover slavery rings, tap the power of the workers, and hold companies and governments accountable.”
Click HERE to link to the Nation magazine article, Human Trafficking: Not Someone Else’s Problem, about Laura Germino’s award and the TIP report.
For more news from the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food, click HERE.
As we gear up for this April’s Farmworker Freedom March – and the Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum continues its historic journey across the state — allies across the country are already into the national Supermarket Week of Action in the Campaign for Fair Food.
This spring season, take action for Fair Food where you shop by urging Stop & Shop, Giant, Publix, Ralph’s, Kroger and other Kroger-owned grocery chains to address the sub-poverty wages and human rights abuses faced by farmworkers who harvest their tomatoes.
You too can get involved by dropping a Campaign for Fair Food letter off to the store manager of your local major supermarket chain! It’s easy to do: Simply download the manager letter here. Then deliver the letter to the manager of your local grocery store and ask the manager to share your concerns with the company’s corporate headquarters.
And if you are interested in joining a picket outside of a supermarket that is already being planned, or organizing one on your own, please contact CIW for more info. Pickets are taking place in the New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Baltimore, and San Francisco Bay areas.
And meanwhile, don’t forget the huge Farmworker Freedom March coming up this April 16-18th from Tampa to Lakeland, FL. Check out the march website for everything you need to join us for the three-day march, including key logistics and registration information easy to find on the march site.
Thanks, and see you in Tampa! — Coalition of Immokalee Workers. For more information visit CIW’s website.