In CNN interview, President Clinton calls the Fair Food Program, “brilliant,” adds, “You’ve got a success model, and you ought to put the pedal to the metal…”
Last week’s ceremony at which the CIW was honored with the 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award was a night that will not soon be forgotten. But the three days that followed the award ceremony — the actual business end of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting — were every bit as exciting. Here’s a thumbnail summary of the week from the Rev. Noelle Damico, a longtime CIW ally who witnessed the scene at the Times Square Sheraton firsthand:
The CIW’s model of worker-driven social responsibility, operational in the Fair Food Program, electrified not only the award ceremony but the entire conference. President Clinton described the CIW’s Fair Food Program as “the most astonishing thing politically happening in the world we’re living in today.” The array of world leaders from business, government, the arts, foundations, and NGOs was astounding — and the excitement around the model was palpable from conversations in the hallway to tweets. The CIW and the Fair Food Program were at the center of this incredible vortex of connection and conviction expressed during the CGI.
The video at the top of this post conveys just how fully the CIW’s work captured the imaginations of those who attended the conference, from President Clinton himself on down. The clip is an excerpt of a CNN town hall meeting filmed on the CGI’s final day during which the Emmy Award-winning actress, anti-slavery activist, and former UN Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond (right, with microphone) asks a question from the audience of the panel headlined by President Clinton. She begins by saying “This week we have been able to celebrate and watch the fantastic example of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ work where they have battled against enslavement in tomato picking supply chains in Florida,” and goes on to ask, “What is it the NGO community can do better, how can we do a better job, to enable companies to come on board and work with us?”
The former president then proceeded to discuss the CIW’s work for several minutes, complimenting Walmart for its participation in the Fair Food Program and making the case that, when “you put a cost on it, it then looks absurd to keep these people in indentured servitude for a penny a pound.” He goes on to cite growing transparency as the key to the success of the Fair Food Program, adds that the Program “crosses otherwise impermeable political, psychological, and economic barriers,” and draws the comparison to what happened when the public learned of the horrific factory fires in Bangladesh.
Following President Clinton’s response, John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, draws the connections between the situation of farmworkers in Florida and that of the workers who fuel the tech industry’s success overseas. He finishes by committing to communicate with buyers who have yet to sign a Fair Food Agreement, an entirely unexpected development in the Campaign for Fair Food but typical of the kind of commitments that get made at CGI meetings every year.
The entire exchange is truly remarkable and indicative of the kind of impact the Fair Food Program had on the debate at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. Take five minutes and check out the full video, you’ll be glad you did!