December 31, 2011
Should auld acquaintance be forgot...
Two holiday-themed videos close out 2011 in the Campaign for Fair Food...
The year 2011 in the Campaign for Fair Food may ultimately be known as the year the CIW caught the attention of the food movement, with high profile articles and appearances giving farmworkers an important new voice - and the issue of human rights an important new place -- in the growing debate over how we produce and sell food in this country.
But that didn't make it any less of a surprise to see two of the food world's most important voices give the CIW prominent mention in their end-of-the-year lists of food organizations to support in 2012.
In an article entitled "10 Exceptional Food-Related Charities," (12/14/11), Gourmet Magazine included the CIW in a list including such august organizations as the United States Fund for UNICEF and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Here's the excerpt on the CIW:
"Coalition of Immokalee Workers
A group like the CIW is a good reminder that there can be hardship at both ends of the food-supply chain—in getting enough food to eat and in growing it. Readers of Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland and contributor to Gourmet Live, will already be well acquainted with this community-based farm workers’ organization and its outsize accomplishments. From its home in southern Florida—source of winter tomatoes and other crops for much of the nation—the CIW has won landmark agreements with industry and major fast-food chains to significantly improve worker wages and conditions. The coming year’s challenge: widely implementing the CIW’s Fair Food Code of Conduct in the fields. What the group’s site doesn’t yet make obvious is that it is a registered 501(c)(3) charity and that donations are tax-deductible; give it time—right now, it’s busy putting an admirable 83% of its funds into programs and only 3% into fund-raising." read more
Meanwhile, in an article entitled "Food Gifts that Matter," (12/21/11), Mark Bittman shared his own list with his extensive readership, writing, "if you’re thinking about making a donation this year to brighten the national or global food landscape, here’s a list of organizations where your gifts will be well spent." His mention of the CIW reads:
"Coalition of Immokalee Workers: Fights for fair wages, better treatment, better housing and greater respect for low-wage immigrant farm workers in Florida. CIW also works for stronger laws and enforcement protecting workers’ rights and the right to organize." read more
Finally, Fair Food activists were far from silent this holiday season, and we leave you in these last days of 2011 with links to two holiday-themed videos, one from Philadelphia drawing links between the Jewish harvest festival tradition of Sukkot and the Campaign for Fair Food, the other a bit of traditional caroling fun from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas:
We hope you and all those you love have a very happy new year, and we look forward to working together in 2012 for still more historic advances in the movement for Fair Food.
December 23, 2011
Christmas in Immokalee is a time for reflection...
CIW members act out the Nativity scene at this past Wednesday's community meeting in Immokalee. The re-enactment is an annual event, designed in the tradition of popular theater to provoke reflection on the meaning of Christ's birth into poverty.
Today we received an email entitled "Reflections from Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon on Why Christians Should Be Particularly Aware of Poverty and Justice Issues at Christmastime." It included the text of his comments from earlier this month at the Faithful Budget Prayer Vigil on Capitol Hill. We want to begin this post today by sharing an extended excerpt of his comments:
"I realize that we are an interfaith campaign, but I thought it might be appropriate if I said a brief word about the Christian holiday of Christmas, and why I believe it compels Christians to be here for this vigil.
What Christians confess and celebrate in this season is that “God [the Word] became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). The implications of this are so staggering that I fear we, Christians, often miss them. If we look for God only in spiritual things, if we speak about God’s presence as something that is only in our hearts, if we teach that God’s promise has only to do with heaven, then we may overlook God altogether. Because the God we know and worship was born in a cave where animals were kept—the child of poor, Jewish peasants—threatened by a king who saw in him the seed of political revolution (Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-18). “Christmas,” writes theologian Shirley Guthrie, “is the story of the radical invasion of God into the kind of real world where we live all year long—a world where there is political unrest and injustice, poverty, hatred, jealousy, and both the fear and longing that things could be different.”...
... That’s why a religion that celebrates incarnation cannot remain aloof from political oppression or economic injustice or environmental destruction. God, Christians believe, became flesh, the ultimate act of solidarity with this world in all its political, economic, and ecological messiness. And that’s why the church, as the primary instrument of God’s purpose for Christians, is called to promote social transformation toward the day when God’s will for abundant life is realized on earth as it is in heaven.
Theologically speaking, re-enactments of the Nativity should not take place inside our sanctuaries, but outside the doors of the church, in the midst of the everyday world where “the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). To put it simply and bluntly: A church that is indifferent to worldly struggles, indifferent to the plight of the poor, is following its own agenda, not God’s."
The idea of the Nativity re-enactment taking place "outside the doors of the church, in the midst of the everyday world," is something CIW members have been doing for years in Immokalee, and the message of the theater is decidedly one of social transformation.
This year was no different, and we thought we'd share with you another email -- this one written by an intern working in Immokalee to her grandmother to convey her thoughts after watching the theater and the reflection that followed -- as a way to, in a small measure, share the Immokalee Christmas experience with you during this very special time of year:
"I just came back from a weekly workers meeting, one of the richest parts about being here. It's "popular education" in action: no theory, no lofty words, just humans doing human things that make sense to any person.
Tonight the Coalition staff acted out the story of Jesus' birth—except Version 1 of the story (right) birthed Jesus into a rich family (father in leather jacket, fake mustache, toupee, silver staff, hilarious. Baby Jesus wearing gold wrapping paper and being rolled around in a roll-y chair full of sparkles. Mother Mary dressed in sequins. Lots of laughter).
Version 2 (picture at top of post) was more accurate: A pregnant Mary, draped in lackluster garments, rides a donkey—who is just another worker costumed in sheets "back stage" (aka around the corner). Baby Jesus was another worker wearing a white sheet wrapped like a diaper, released from beneath a low lit table.
After all the laughter subsided, two seasoned organizers, Lucas and Gerardo, started asking the 50-person audience questions: Did Jesus come from a rich family, or a poor one? Would Jesus have been so prophetic if he’d been rich? What noble journey did he embark on? What noble journey are we on, sacrificing for our families far away to support them? If Jesus had been born in this country, where would’ve he been born: Naples or Immokalee? Is Jesus born again every Christmas? Or is he born again in our hearts, renewing our hope to continue our struggle? Why is our faith important? And what is faith without action? Is God going to answer to our plight? Or will he only do so once we are doing for ourselves?"
Each year Christians around the world retell the story of their Savior’s birth, how a poor, rural family was forced to travel to Bethlehem so the Emperor could count them. And there, far from home, Mary gave birth to a son and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
May this good news bring us all hope, courage and joy this holiday season.
December 14, 2011
Boston 5th Graders to Trader Joe's: You "might have snazzy Hawaiian shirts and tasty snacks..."
... but your refusal to support the Fair Food Program "is neither stylish nor appetizing!"
Boston's Workmen's Circle Center for Jewish Culture & Social Justice is a great place. We just can't say it any other way. The people there are great and they raise great kids...
December 12, 2011
Carrying a hand-written scroll calling on Publix to "honor and guarantee the fundamental human rights of farmworkers which have been violated and ignored far too long," 150 farmworkers and Fair Food activists descended on a newly-opened Publix store in Miami yesterday to press their demands for ethical purchasing practices from the Florida grocery giant. The same store had been the subject of a pray-in by local South Florida religious leaders earlier last week...
Interfaith pray-in greets shoppers at Publix Grand Opening in Miami!
Since the first pray-in at Publix back in August of this year, clergy have returned several times to the produce aisles to protest, through prayer, Publix's refusal to support the CIW's groundbreaking Fair Food Program.
Yesterday, at the grand opening of the new Publix store in Miami -- the same store where people will gather for a protest on Sunday in commemoration of International Human Rights Day -- an interfaith group of clergy met to express their frustration with Florida's supermarket giant because, in their words, "Publix has been refusing to dialogue, so all that's left is for us to pray..."
December 5, 2011
"Groupthink Isn't Sustainable"
Final installment in 3-part essay on Trader Joe's, Publix puts supermarkets' stubborn resistance to Campaign for Fair Food under the microscope...
"Dear Joe" letters keep coming...
Some of you may remember an article we posted here about two weeks ago by Ted Coine, a widely-followed author and commentator in the world of business leadership and corporate social responsibility. The article, entitled ""Doing the Right Thing Pays: Sustainable Leadership Series", took a close look at why companies like Trader Joe's and Publix, despite their reputations as ethical businesses, take such a stubborn stand against a widely-accepted and respected initiative like the Fair Food Program. Here's how he wrapped up Part 2, leaving us hanging for the conclusion:
".... Now, the CIW is locked in a similar struggle with Publix, one of America’s largest supermarket chains, and with Trader Joe’s. And following the pattern of the fast food giants, these two companies are stonewalling. It seems that penny is more than either is willing to pay for ethically-source food.
It’s a fascinating, troubling clash of wills to observe. A clash that seems especially inconsistent with the reputation of a firm like Trader Joe’s, which has branded itself as highly ethical, as dedicated to CSR.
In my next exclusive post here at SBF, on December 2, we’ll dive into the struggle CIW has been fighting for that extra penny. Hopefully by then both Trader Joe’s and Publix will have responded to my queries.
My underlying question? Can a company be Good just some of the time, and still prosper from a reputation as a responsible actor in society? Or is Corporate Social Responsibility a matter of consistently-applied principles, of doing the right thing even when no one’s looking?" Read more
Well, Part 3 is here, and it was worth the wait. Titled "Groupthink Isn't Sustainable," it is a rare inside-the-board-room look at the possible thinking behind the grocery giants' inexplicable refusal to support the innovative and virtually cost-free Fair Food Program. It is well worth taking a few moments to read if you are interested in understanding the psychology behind the resistance to progress. Here's an extended except:
"... Now it’s Trader Joe’s and Publix’s turn in the spotlight. And even though these two companies are publicly committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), they have fallen into the familiar pattern of resistance shown by their predecessors.
Even my most laissez faire, politically conservative acquaintances are shocked by the positions of Trader Joe’s and Publix in this matter. “It’s only a penny!” one remarked the other day. Another surprised me by saying, “This is so black and white! What’s the problem?”
This brings up something that carries far beyond tomatoes, to Sustainable Leadership in general. As a professor of psychology recently asked me, “What is the larger issue with these companies? Surely they can’t be resisting because of a penny. There must be something deeper.”
Here, then, are some thoughts on Sustainable Leadership and ethical decision-making.
He concludes by writing:
"... I hope these insights prove useful to leaders who wish to act sustainably, and to those who would seek to influence them. A step back to evaluate motivation is essential to strategic decision-making. If CSR isn’t a strategic imperative, I don’t know what is.
My questions for these two prominent brands are this:
Meanwhile, consumers fed up with this kind of thinking by Trader Joe's continue to pen "Dear Joe" letters, explaining why they are breaking up with the company they used to love. Here's one of many that have come to the office since we announced the Dear Joe letter movement in November, this one from Max Ray "devoted TJ's shopper from ages 0 to 28":
Dear Mr. Bane,
One of my earliest memories is shopping at Trader Joe's, the original store in Pasadena. I remember free cookies, friendly employees, delicious healthy affordable food (especially the dried strawberries and cherries!).
I was thrilled when Trader Joe's came to my adult home, Philadelphia. I loved that the food was still healthy, delicious and affordable. I especially loved that I had a source for good, spicy, California-style Mexican food.
So you can imagine my surprise when I learned that Trader Joe's, a store I relied on for affordable fair-trade products, was not signed on to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Agreement. I was sure that you'd be better than Taco Ball, Whole Foods, Sodexo, McDonalds, and the other less friendly and delicious stores that have signed on.
Sad as it makes me, I will not be shopping at Trader Joe's until you have signed the agreement.
That's what groupthink gets you.
December 1, 2011
Citizen journalists examine the Campaign for Fair Food...
Articles in the Gainesville (FL) Iguana and Chicago's Oakpark.com reflect growing grassroots conversation around Fair Food!
In communities around the country, Fair Food activists have organized pickets, marches, and all kinds of creative actions to call on supermarket giants to support human rights for Florida farmworkers...
November 28, 2011
Even the Publix salt-shaker Pilgrim finds the hypocrisy of the company's advertising copy for its store label Fair Trade coffee too much to stomach, adding her voice to the Campaign for Fair Food to demand fair wages and working conditions for the farmworkers who pick Florida tomatoes, too.
Our annual harvest celebration has come and gone, and the nation's supermarket giants -- with the notable exception of Whole Foods -- remain stubbornly opposed to the CIW's Fair Food Program and the higher labor standards it would establish for the farmworkers who pick their tomatoes.
But outside the executive offices and corporate board rooms of the supermarket industry, support for the Campaign for Fair Food is growing exponentially...
November 23, 2011
Farmworker families deliver a powerful
Thanksgiving message to Publix!
Religious leaders, too, send their own Thanksgiving letter to Trader Joe's, other supermarket giants...
For those of you who live in Publix's market, which is most of the southeastern part of the country, you will already be quite familiar with the company's Thanksgiving message. It is an advertising campaign carefully crafted to identify Publix with the powerful emotions we all feel for our family and friends at holiday time. Here's an excerpt from an earlier post on this website about the Publix holiday advertising campaign:
"... The commercial, like other Publix ads, shows very little food, doesn't show the store, and makes no mention at all of price or special discounts. Rather, with great economy it weaves a powerful, short narrative that follows this simple but remarkably effective formula:
Family = Love = Publix
You can watch the commercial here. Go ahead, we'll wait... and feel free to shed a tear or two. Anything that can touch that place deep, deep in our hearts where our love for family resides is worth letting in, if only for a moment. Just don't forget to come back." read more
Yesterday, a delegation of CIW Women's Group members and their children delivered a very different sort of Thanksgiving message to Publix...
November 22, 2011
The time to celebrate the harvest-- and those who harvest it -- is here...
NY Times' Mark Bittman with a tip of the hat to the CIW; Great new article on sustainability throws down gauntlet with Publix, Trader Joe's; Publix customers launch campaign to return receipts, signal determination for long fight ahead!
With Thanksgiving just days away, our thoughts turn to family, football, and the great, abundant feast that marks the start of the holiday season. But along the way, many people -- commentators and consumers alike -- pause to remember the people who help make the Thanksgiving feast we are about to eat possible.
Mark Bittman, the incomparable New York Times food writer, is one of those people. Be sure to read his list ("No Turkeys Here," Nov. 19) of all that we have to be thankful for in the world of food this year both because it is a wonderful compilation of all the great people and projects in the food movement today and because it mentions the Coalition of Immokalee Workers! Here's the CIW excerpt (though you really should do yourself a favor, read the entire list, and get inspired for the challenges ahead in food!):
"10. Can’t mention Estabrook (or his book “Tomatoland”) without a shout out to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who showed that farmworkers could fight for and win better working conditions." Read more
November 17, 2011
"Dear Joe" the new "Dear John" letter...
"Dear Joe" letters capture former Trader Joe's customers' sense of betrayal by "ethical grocer"...
During World War II, a "Dear John" letter was a letter written to a soldier serving overseas by his wife or girlfriend back home informing him that their relationship was over. They were the break-up letters every soldier dreaded.
Today, a new break-up letter is making the rounds, but this time it's "Dear Joe", as in Trader Joe's. Dear Joe letters, an idea started by Fair Food activists with New York's Community/Farmworker Alliance, are a means for former Trader Joe's customers to let the company know that they are breaking up with their longtime grocer because of the company's inexplicable -- and indefensible -- refusal to support the CIW's Fair Food Program...
November 14, 2011
250 hit the streets of Sarasota to protest Publix!
Growing protests signal exciting season ahead...
The past several weeks have seen some truly impressive actions in the Campaign for Fair Food. First there was the 400-person march on Trader Joe's headquarters in Monrovia, CA, then more than 200 people showed up for a two-mile march to a Trader Joe's store in Oakland.
And now, this past Sunday, more than 200 people took to the streets in yet another massive protest for Fair Food, this time at a recently opened Publix store in Sarasota, Florida. From the WMNF radio story on the protest:
"Yesterday, about 250 protestors packed the sidewalks in front of Sarasota’s newest Publix. They are asking the food giant to sign the Fair Food Agreement in support of tomato harvesters across Florida. For over two years, Publix has refused to support their request for what amounts to one penny more per pound, along with reasonable working conditions in the field.
The sidewalks were filled with protestors, chanting and marching around the edifice of the corporation’s newest retail store. Gerardo Reyes Chavez, a farm worker with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, says they are asking the supermarket giant to help with fair wages and improved working conditions by agreeing to support demands for what most would consider humane treatment..." read more
November 12, 2011
Publix protest set for Sunday in Sarasota!
Plus... Check out this must-read Op/Ed
published in today's Sarasota Herald Tribune:
"Local Christian Leaders Support Farmworkers"
If you live in the Southwest Florida area (that means you, Tampa, Ft. Myers, Naples, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Venice... and you, too, Lakeland, Wimauma, Arcadia, Palmetto!...) and support the Fair Food Movement, you need to be in Sarasota tomorrow afternoon for the big Publix protest...
November 10, 2011
CIW steps into the TEDx ring in CA...
A bit of news that got lost in the wash of the Supermarket Week of Action and two huge Trader Joe marches in California was the appearance of the CIW's Gerardo Reyes Chavez in a TEDx forum organized by Fair Food Program partner Bon Appetit...
November 7, 2011
Another week, another massive TJ's march in CA!
200+ march on Trader Joe's in Oakland...
Southern California, Northern California, it doesn't matter -- Californians are united behind the call for "Fair Food Now!" and they're letting their home state grocer, Trader Joe's, know it.
On the heels of last month's huge march on Trader Joe's corporate headquarters in Monrovia, CA, more than 200 Fair Food activists brought their energy, commitment, and colorful art to Oakland this past Sunday, winding through the city on a 2-mile march that ended at a local Trader Joe's store. The march route started at the Marriott hotel in downtown Oakland, where a national Food Justice conference was being held, headed past the Occupy Oakland encampment, curved along Lake Merritt and concluded at the Lakeshore Avenue Trader Joe's.
Marchers included representatives from Family Farm Defenders, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the National Family Farm Coalition, and many other food system activists in town for the conference, all working on issues of food justice in one way or another (urban agriculture, access to healthy food, anti-hunger, health and nutrition, support for family farmers, fair trade, other food system workers, and more). And, as promised, Berkeley's own Chez Panisse provided several baskets overflowing with organic fresh fruit, nuts and dates that fed marchers -- and onlookers -- along the way!
Here below is a video from a moment of the march, and below the video you'll find two links for more pictures from Sunday's action:
Click here for photos from Sunday's big march in Oakland...
Or here for a slideshow of beautiful photos by KQED's "Bay Area Bites" (who, by the way, also did the above video, and whose producer, Wendy Goodfriend, is responsible for the beautiful pictures, including the one at the top of this post!).
And, as always, check back soon for more from the fast-breaking Campaign for Fair Food!
November 2, 2011
November's here, and with it comes:
A new season in Immokalee...
More media on the Campaign for Fair Food...
More updates from the Supermarket Week of Action...
And MORE action this weekend in California in the Trader Joe's campaign!
The month of November marks the official beginning of the new harvest season in Immokalee, and with picking set to start just weeks from today, CIW members are making their way back to town and readying for what is sure to be a decisive season in the Campaign for Fair Food!
It has come down to this: The supermarket industry is the only thing standing between the farmworker community and its growing network of allies across the country, on the one hand, and the fundamental transformation of farm labor conditions in Florida promised by the Fair Food Program, on the other. The time has come for supermarket companies to support the farm labor program that, in the words of "Tomatoland" author Barry Estabrook from a recent interview, "could well be the most wide-reaching change in agricultural labor relations," in the country today.
October 30, 2011
Supermarket Week of Action makes it clear...
... the time for Fair Food is here!
The results are in, and the Supermarket Week of Action was officially HUGE! With almost 30 actions across the country -- including a march of hundreds on Trader Joe's headquarters in Monrovia, CA -- Fair Food activists from Massachusetts to California have sent the supermarket industry a message they can't mistake: It is time to join the Fair Food Program. The longer you wait, the stronger the Campaign for Fair Food gets!
Pictured above are protesters from the Boston area gathered outside a Trader Joe's in Brookline, MA. Here below is a first-hand report from the action:
"We had 45-50 people, including members of two different Jewish congregations (Dorshei Tzedek and Temple Hillel B'nai Torah), students from Boston College and Northeastern, and members of the Jewish Labor Council and SEIU.
We did a small delegation inside to the manager, and when he realized who we were he said that he would only talk to us outside, and basically just repeated what they said about how they're already doing it, how they're paying the 3¢/lb. which is "more than what the CIW is asking." When I called him out on the fact that it was a different premium because they're a different type of tomatoes, he sort of stumbled and said that we should look at the website, to which Rabbi Penzner said that we'd all seen the website, but that we weren't satisfied with its content. After that he sort of stumbled and repeated himself several times: check the website, contact TJ's directly, etc. Basically, though, once they're confronted with the facts, they don't know how to respond.
Others went quite well, indeed. In Washington, DC, members of DC Fair Food gathered signatures on a petition that read: "Trader Joe's: We the People demand Fair Food! Sign with the CIW". They also put together a great short video of the action:
October 27, 2011
"I have never seen such an act of disrespect"...
Pastor reacts to ripping down of clergy letters by Trader Joe's rep in scathing Op/Ed*...
Story picked up by The Atlantic, as well: "Trader Joe's Locks the Doors to Rabbis and Ministers"
*now with postscript...
Toward the end of the huge march and rally at Trader Joe's headquarters in Monrovia last Friday, a strange thing happened. Though many of the protesters saw it at the time, no one happened to capture the moment on film or video, and so we decided not to include it or mention it in our photo report from the action.
But since that time, the incident -- during which someone from Trader Joe's corporate headquarters tore down two large clergy letters taped to their doors while protesters, gathered across the street, looked on in disbelief (on right, the letters are shown taped to the doors moments before being torn down) -- has sparked a growing controversy...
October 24, 2011
Trader Joe's: We'll be fair. Trust us...
400+ marchers to TJ's: Not so fast, Joe!
On Friday, October 21 -- the very day of the big march on Trader Joe's headquarters in Monrovia, CA -- Trader Joe's PR department issued a statement on the Campaign for Fair Food on the company's website. The statement announced a new agreement, between Trader Joe's and two Florida tomato growers, that, in Trader Joe's opinion, resolved once and for all the concerns of the farmworkers who pick their tomatoes:
"As we reported to you in May, we have received inquiries regarding claims made by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) about our purchasing practices related to Florida-grown tomatoes. In May we indicated we were paying a surcharge of a penny per pound through wholesalers and intended to increase worker pay for those harvesting tomatoes that are sold at Trader Joe’s. However, the CIW, an entity with which we have no business relationship, continues to demand that we sign an agreement with them that is unacceptable to us for reasons we presented in May.
We buy approximately 3 Million pounds of tomatoes from farms in Florida... To affect a solution that gets increased compensation to the workers we have contracted directly with the two growers who employ the workers that harvest the tomatoes that we sell...We believe this solution effectively addresses the concerns related to this matter that have been expressed by many customers." read more
- Photo report from Friday's huge march on Trader Joe's headquarters in Monrovia
- CIW answer TJ's latest effort to circumvent farmworkers, avoid a verifiable commitment to Fair Food
Press coverage of the march in Monrovia was strong, as well. Here are some links:
- "Florida farmworkers and their allies demand higher wages at Trader Joe's," Pasadena Star-News, 10/21/11
- "Hundreds March To Trader Joe's Headquarters In Monrovia To Demand A One Penny Per Pound Raise For Florida Farm Workers," OC Weekly, 10/21/11
- "Farm Workers Protest Outside Trader Joe's Monrovia Headquarters," MonroviaPatch.com, 10/21/11
And stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead from a spectacular Supermarket Week of Action around the country!
October 20, 2011
Religious leaders agree: It's time for Trader Joe's to join the Fair Food Program... Now.
Over 100 rabbis
sign open letter to Trader Joe's;
Call for food justice rings out across country during High Holiday season!
Rabbis for Human Rights - North America is turning up the heat on Trader Joe's with a strong new letter signed by over 100 rabbis that will be delivered to Trader Joe's headquarters, in oversized form, at the culmination of tomorrow's big march. The letter begins:
"Dear Trader Joe’s,
October 19, 2011
Pressure grows on Trader Joe's...
As Friday march on Trader Joe's headquarters approaches, religious leaders, press, Fair Food activists turn up the heat on "ethical grocer"...
The letter above -- from Bishop Zavala, the longstanding and widely-respected Catholic Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, to Trader Joe's CEO Dan Bane -- speaks for itself...
October 17, 2011
Another not so grand opening for Publix...
Protests hit Publix grand openings in St. Pete, Ocala!
Yesterday, October 16th, marked World Food Day, a "worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year-around action to alleviate hunger," according to the World Food Day website.
It also marked the start of the Supermarket Week of Action in the Campaign for Fair Food, a week of protests at grocery stores around the country demanding that the supermarket industry join the fast-food and foodservice industries in supporting the Fair Food Program. The week's big action will take place this Friday at Trader Joe's corporate headquarters in Monrovia, CA...
October 13, 2011
Religious allies take a stand
in Trader Joe's campaign!
Southern California religious leaders, Rabbis for Human Rights make their voices heard loud and clear in growing call for Trader Joe's to support Fair Food Program...
One week out from the big march to Trader Joe's corporate headquarters in Monrovia, CA, Southern California faith community allies -- including religious leaders from Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) of both Los Angeles and Orange County and National Farm Worker Ministry -- have issued a powerfully-worded sign-on letter to Trader Joe's CEO Dan Bane. Here is an extended excerpt from the moving letter:
"... Trader Joe’s puzzling and misleading public statements about the Fair Food agreements and the company’s attempts to foist responsibility off on their wholesalers illustrates the extent to which Trader Joe’s has not yet even understood the basics. We find this inexcusable given that the CIW has been willing to meet in person with Trader Joe's, has shared the template of the Code of Conduct, and has an indisputable track record of working conscientiously and successfully with other major corporations. The Fair Food agreements are being implemented now and dramatically improving the lives of farmworkers. That Trader Joe’s would scorn these agreements and their achievements is, frankly, unconscionable.
As people of faith we believe that all people are created by God for good purpose: to dwell justly with one another and to care for all creation. Farmworkers, corporate executives, growers and consumers depend upon another to grow, harvest, sell and obtain the food we need for ourselves and our families. Trader Joe’s has a reputation as an ethical company; it is one of the reason members of our congregations shop at your store. You have an opportunity here to do what is right and good; to make an historic contribution to transforming this part of our food system into one that ensures well-being for all. This is not the first time corporate executives or growers have had to decide what to do. We hope that you will follow the example of Jon Esformes, a principle in Pacific Tomato, when at a press conference he said, “you wake up and you realize that maybe this is something we could have done yesterday, but I am certainly not going to wait until tomorrow.”
Mr. Bane, do not wait. Work now with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to forge a Fair Food agreement of which you, your company and your customers can be proud. Use your power to help rectify rights of farmworkers long trampled that the dawn of a new day in the Florida tomato fields might blaze into bright morning light." read more
If you are a faith leader in Southern California and would like to add your name, there is still time! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign-on today.
October 9, 2011
Modern-day Slavery Museum keeps on rolling!
Also: Rabbi who visited Immokalee in September
wins Human Rights Hero award...
The Modern-day Slavery Museum keeps quietly chugging along, carrying its invaluable cargo -- the history and analysis of centuries of farm labor exploitation in Florida, and the story of the new day that has begun to dawn for the state's farmworkers with the Campaign for Fair Food -- from town to town, opening eyes and hearts across the state one person at a time...
September 21, 2011
Publix Bike Tour continues to inspire!
Bikers arrive in Lakeland on September 6th under a driving rainstorm
for the final leg of the Pilgrimage to Publix
Faith community allies, religious press deeply disappointed with Publix response...
It's going on three weeks now since farmworkers from Immokalee and their allies pedaled through the streets and back roads of Lakeland, Florida, on their way to Publix headquarters to ask for a meeting with Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. Their hopes to invite Mr. Crenshaw to visit Immokalee and learn of farmworker poverty and the Fair Food Program first-hand were dashed, however, when Mr. Crenshaw refused to come out of the headquarters building and sent, instead, an unnamed representative to turn down the invitation and ask the farmworker delegation to leave Publix property.
The disdain demonstrated by Mr. Crenshaw for the farmworkers -- whose hard labor has helped Publix become Florida's largest company, with $25.3 billion in revenue -- did not sit well with most observers, and the religious press and the growing community of faith-based Fair Food allies were no exception. Many have written to express a deep frustration with Publix's indifference and are eager to take action...
September 15, 2011
Rabbis for Human Rights-North America steps into the fray with Publix, Campaign for Fair Food!
Pray-in at Naples Publix caps off day-long delegation
to Immokalee, tomato fields...
This past Tuesday, a delegation from Rabbis for Human Rights-North America traveled to Immokalee for a day-long immersion in the Campaign for Fair Food. They talked with farmworkers at the CIW community center in Immokalee, met with leaders of the CIW on the very latest developments in the Fair Food Program, and visited a local tomato industry leader to see the new partnership for fairer farm labor conditions in practice in the fields...
September 14, 2011
Bike tour wrap-up...
Media re-caps and Florida clergy speak out!
Last week's 200-mile bike tour from Immokalee to Lakeland, home of Publix's corporate headquarters, may not have moved Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw to come out of hiding and meet the farmworkers who help make his company so successful, but it certainly caught the attention of a lot of other people throughout Florida, from the media to clergy of all stripes.
Southwest Florida's WINK TV put together a nice post-Pilgrimage piece, which you can find by clicking on the image on the right or here.
Also, the Orlando Weekly did a quick story post-tour, entitled "Migrant farmworkers and activists pressing tomato pickers’ wages 'turned away at the gates' by Publix." Here's an excerpt:
October 7, 2011
Supermarket Week of Action: October 16-24!
Major Action at Trader Joe's Corporate Headquarters
Monrovia, CA, October 21
Ten days and counting to the big Supermarket Week of Action, as Fair Food activists across the country gear up for protests at local Trader Joe's, Publix, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Kroger stores from New York to California.
From the Student/Farmworker Alliance website, where you can find all kinds of resources for getting involved in your hometown in the upcoming week of action:
"Book-ended by national and international "Food Days," highlighted by a major mobilization on Trader Joe's headquarters in Southern California, and spurred on by consumer and farmworker indignation over the continuing and stubborn refusal on the part of supermarket industry leaders Trader Joe's, Publix, Ahold USA and Kroger to support the groundbreaking changes taking root in Florida's fields, we convene the 2011 Supermarket Week of Action... coming to a grocery store near you!
Start organizing to take action in your community today! The supermarket week of action (which will feature supermarket protests and campaign events from coast to coast) and the Trader Joe's mobilization represent some of the first steps in a significant escalation of the movement to secure the supermarkets' support for fair wages and humane working conditions in Florida's tomato fields." read more
Go to the Student/Farmworker Alliance site for some preliminary action ideas, campaign background and inspiration, then check back soon for more info.
And if you're organizing an action or need resources, contact us!
September 8, 2011
Turned away... but not turned back!
(Photo by Calvin Knight, Lakeland Ledger. See his excellent photo gallery from the final day of the tour here.)
Above: Leaders of the 200-mile Pilgrimage to Publix ride the streets of Lakeland on the final leg to Publix corporate headquarters Tuesday. Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw refused to meet with the workers and rejected an invitation to visit Immokalee to learn first-hand about farmworker poverty and the Fair Food Program. Workers and their allies were disappointed, but not dissuaded from their quest to win the support of Florida's largest grocer for more humane labor standards in the fields.
Photo report from final day now online!
By now you probably know the outcome of the 11-day, 200-mile bike tour from Immokalee to Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland. If not, it's summed up here.
But while we now know the outcome of the tour, the consequences of the tour are still very much to be determined.
Publix's shocking display of indifference to the plight of farmworkers in its home state -- and to the concerns of Publix customers who support the Campaign for Fair Food -- left the workers and their allies who gathered in Lakeland for Tuesday's final leg of the bike tour deeply frustrated. Their frustration is shared by many more consumers around Florida and across the country who have written in the past two days to express their renewed commitment to the Campaign in the face of what one emailer called "such an insulting response."
The bike tour, and Publix's callous response to the workers' simple invitation to dialogue, served to reveal a side of the company that many of its customers, until now, really didn't want to believe was true: Publix not as a kind neighbor, a company uniquely tuned to its community's needs, but Publix as a cold, arrogant corporation, a company driven only by profit, indifferent to the suffering of its neighbors, deaf to its customers' heartfelt concerns.
A revelation like that is hard to forget, and it fuels the kind of frustration that leads to expansion of the campaign - with new ardor among those already committed to the fight, and new allies brought into the fold by the unmistakable injustice of the moment -- not retreat.
The history of this campaign is still to be written. Perhaps Publix's imperious reaction to the bikers will convince consumers that the company will not be moved. Or, perhaps it will move ever more Publix customers to demand that their neighborhood grocer live up to the words of its founder, George Jenkins, when he said, "Never let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing."
Click here to see the final photo update from the Pilgrimage to Publix. And stay tuned this season to see just which way things break in this ever evolving campaign.
Publix takes a pass...
A Publix spokesperson, above right, who met the delegation of CIW bikers outside of security at the entrance to Publix's long corporate driveway, asks the bikers to "wrap it up" after a brief back and forth at the culmination of the 200-mile Pilgrimage to Publix.
Publix CEO Crenshaw refuses to meet with bikers, rejects invitation to Immokalee;
Publix spokesperson sticks to non-responsive, nonsensical talking points...
After eleven days on the road, 200-miles logged on the saddles of borrowed bikes, and more than a few bumps and bruises along the way, the CIW bike tour crew and about 75 allies who gathered in their support outside Publix's corporate headquarters in Lakeland yesterday were given the cold shoulder by Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. Mr. Crenshaw made it known through his spokesman that he had no interest in meeting with farmworkers or Publix customers -- some of whom carried a bag of hundreds of Publix receipts to demonstrate the value of their purchases to the company -- about the exploitation of farmworkers in the Publix's supply chain and the company's refusal to support the Campaign for Fair Food.
Meanwhile, his spokesperson repeated the same timeworn public relations bromides -- "we don't pay the employees of other companies directly"... "put it in the price"... "this is a labor dispute"... -- that Publix spokespeople have rolled out for nearly two years in response to the Campaign (or should we say non-response, given the fact that the Campaign for Fair Food is not a labor dispute but a unique partnership between farmworkers and employers, the Fair Food premium is in fact built into the price in the same way the Fair Trade premium is built into the fair trade coffee Publix purchases, and the Fair Food program doesn't require retail companies to pay the penny-per-pound to farmworkers directly, rather the premium is passed through the grower and paid to workers, by the grower, on the workers' regular payroll check... Ugh, it's getting painful just to repeat the debunking at this point...).
Here's a quick media round-up from yesterday's action as we continue to work on our own photo report on the day's events, which, despite Publix's disappointing indifference, were in fact remarkably inspiring:
- Audio: "Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw refuses to meet with cycling Immokalee farmworkers," WMNF Radio, Tampa listen (contains an extended recording of dialogue between CIW's Oscar Otzoy and Publix spokesperson, pictured above)
- Print: "Immokalee Farmworkers Hoping to Meet Publix CEO Are Disappointed," Lakeland Ledger (excellent photo gallery!)
- Print: "Farmworkers bike for justice in the fields," Facing South
- Video: "Farm workers bike to Publix in search of better wages," Tampa Bay Online (embedded video below):
September 6, 2011
Pilgrimage to Publix lands in Lakeland!
Check out the great video retrospective from the 200-mile tour above -- and the photo report from Days 7 & 8 below -- then check back again soon for a complete report from the exciting culmination at Publix headquarters in Lakeland!
August 25, 2011
Cycling to Crenshaw...
Pilgrimage to Publix ready to roll! With the 200-mile trek from Immokalee to Publix corporate headquarters in Lakeland just around the corner, bike tour members practice earlier this week in Naples. (photo Naples Daily News)
Plus... Check out the final photo report from the Trader Joe's Northeast Tour!
A special team of bike messengers is ready to hit the road this Saturday morning in Ft. Myers. Their destination: Publix corporate headquarters, Lakeland, Florida.Their mission: To deliver an invitation from farmworkers in Immokalee to Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw asking Mr. Crenshaw to visit Immokalee in person, to walk with workers in the streets of their community, and to learn first-hand about farmworker poverty and why it is so crucial that Publix participate in the Fair Food Program. If you'd like to learn more about the upcoming "Pilgrimage to Publix," visit the Interfaith Action website today for all the details, including the day-by-day itinerary and schedule of major events along the route. You can also click on the links below to read some of the great coverage of the tour:
- Naples Daily News
- Ft. Myers News-Press Op/Ed by Rabbi Bruce Diamond
- Lakeland Ledger
- Brian McLaren's blog
Last week more than a dozen local clergy gathered in the sanctuary of Naples United Church of Christ to pray for the safety of the riders as well as for Mr. Crenshaw. They, like Brian McLaren in a great new opinion piece that ran in Huffington Post today ("Dirty Tomatoes: A Spiritual and Dietary Proposal), prayed that Publix's rejection of the Fair Food program is due to a deep disconnect between the company's public relations department and its top decision maker:
"I like Publix. I think they are a good and decent company -- apart from their dirty tomatoes. Perhaps their CEO, Ed Crenshaw, doesn't fully understand what's being requested. Perhaps the Public Relations department has shielded him from CIW's requests. That's why we decided to go into a Publix to pray: We wanted to do our part to help the message get through." read more
Interestingly, as revealed in the company's hometown paper, the Lakeland Ledger, Publix has indicated that Mr. Crenshaw is yet undecided about whether to accept the CIW's invitation to Immokalee:
"Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten said Crenshaw is aware of the coalition's plans, but it's not clear if Crenshaw would accept the invitation to visit Immokalee.
In the meantime, the bicycle delegation will continue to solicit prayers for Mr. Crenshaw at every stop of their ride, as well as for their own safety along the road, with the hope that on September 6th, the first workday back after Labor Day weekend, Publix's CEO will exhibit the kind of leadership that made his grandfather so well-known and well-loved, leadership captured in the motto: "Never let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing."
August 23, 2011
Plus: Trader Joe's Northeast Tour ends with spectacular visits, actions in Portland, Maine and Northampton, Massachusetts...
August 20, 2011
Fair Food Pray-in at Publix!
Losing patience with Publix, faith leaders take action in the produce aisle, call on CEO Ed Crenshaw to "be a man of compassion and fairness"
On February 1, 1960, four students took seats at the segregated lunch counter (below) of the Woolworth's department store in Greensboro, North Carolina. They ordered coffee, but because they were African-American, they were denied service and were asked to leave. They refused, staying in their seats until closing time.
The next day, more than twenty students returned to the same whites-only lunch counter. On the third day, more than sixty students joined the "sit-in," suffering the taunts and unprovoked violence of mobs of young men who gathered to defend the dying system of legal segregation.
The Greensboro sit-ins continued to grow, spreading through North Carolina and ultimately expanding to department stores throughout the South. By the time the sit-in movement reached its apex, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ending legally-sanctioned segregation in the United States.
August 11, 2011
We interrupt our coverage of the
Trader Joe's Northeast Tour...
... for a round-up of some excellent recent media!
Over the past week we have been brought you updates from the road from the exciting Trader Joe's Northeast Tour. For those of you who haven't had a chance to check out those updates, you can find them at the following links:
- Photo report from Day 4 (New York City)
- Photo report from Day 3 of the Tour (Philadelphia)
- Report from Days 1 and 2 of the Tour (Baltimore, DC)
But today we are obliged to break into our regular programming to bring you a media round-up because, while the Tour crew has been hard at work up north, the Campaign has been generating some very well written articles that we just had to share.
We start with the venerable progressive magazine, In These Times. An article, entitled "Coalition of Immokalee Workers Brings Farmworker Movement to the Streets," published on the inthesetimes.com website August 5th, is one of the most cogent pieces of reporting on the Campaign for Fair Food that we have seen for a long time (and we say that despite the fact that it calls us a "motley alliance of some of the country's poorest workers"!). The article gets most everything right, and very little wrong, which is, sadly, rare achievement in the world of journalism today. And it ends on this encouraging note:
|"... In the absence of strong government regulation, the Coalition's strategy aims not just to force employers to obey labor laws but also strive for decent working standards overall, in order to turn Florida's tomato industry from a bastion of poverty into, in Benitez's words, 'a model of social accountability for the 21st century.'
Whether such industrial change can be wrought by a motley alliance of some of the country's poorest workers, the biggest food brands, and the savviest customers, has yet to be seen. But if a bunch of migrant farm workers can get Manhattan hipsters to think seriously about who picked their salad this summer, they're on the road to victory." read more
Definitely take a moment to read it if you can. Then, once you have finished and are sufficiently moved to take action yourself in the Campaign for Fair Food (if you haven't already...), then take a look at the second article of today's round-up, "Chewing on Food Justice with Mae Singerman," from pursueaction.org. It's a quick Q & A profile of one Fair Food activist living in New York City and participating in New York's formidable Community/Farmworker Alliance. Here's a quick look:
|"... How do you think this labor-focused coalition work fits into the broader food justice/food sovereignty movement?
I think Chipotle is a great example of where the movement is at and where there is room for growth. Chipotle has refused to sign an agreement with the CIW for years. They know about the abuse of workers in the supply chain and have actively turned away. At the same time, they have very publicly committed to serve “food with integrity,” focusing on only buying pigs that have been treated humanely. I am all for treating pigs humanely. I’m also for treating humans humanely. Chipotle is a growing company and they know humanely-treated pigs sell them more burritos. Our movements have brought organic and cage-free into the mainstream. Now, we need to do the same for workers’ rights in the supply chain. I want to ensure that companies who abuse workers are publicly humiliated into changing their ways, that governments are pressured to take a stand against abuse and that “food with integrity” includes workers’ rights. This also goes for Trader Joe’s that has built its reputation on a similar image as Chipotle." read more
Finally, the Bradenton (FL) Times published a story on August 6th, entitled "A Penny for Your Thoughts... About Tomatoes," that steps back a bit and takes a broader view of the Campaign for Fair Food. Here's a quote:
"... It's hard to imagine making the same wages we were 30 years ago. USA Today reported Fortune 500 CEO's wages were up 27% from just a year ago. I am sure if asked, everyone of them would tell you they're worth it. It has become a trend to keep raising the ceiling for CEO compensation and often it is made by lowering the floor on the poor. What it appears they don't understand is that if those on the floor quit buying things, quit spending everything they have to just stay alive, everything at the top will surely collapse. Luxury goods alone cannot keep the economy afloat. It seems the jury is still out on trickle-down, but it has always been in on trickle-up..." read more
So, there you have it, a trio of excellent and varied articles on the Campaign for Fair Food that, together, make a very nice reading list for those moments between updates from the Trader Joe's Northeast Tour.
And speaking of the Tour... check back soon for photo reports from White Plains, NY, and Providence, RI!
August 1, 2011
|Dr. Dennis Shuman of P'nai Or Gainesville Jewish Renewal Congregation explains to those gathered at Gainesville City Hall, "We must do more than bless the food we eat; we must sanctify it by working harder to stop the exploitation of farm labor."|
Gainesville faith leaders to Publix:
"The demands of conscience, of the Godly requirements of justice and compassion, call us to support the Campaign for Fair Food!"
Last Thursday, in an interfaith assembly spanning the Abrahamic traditions, nearly two dozen local religious leaders held a press conference at Gainesville City Hall to release a stirring open letter to Publix, Florida's largest privately held corporation that has for two years resisted mounting calls to join the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food. Publix has thirteen stores in Gainesville.
The event, which was organized by the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice and Affiliated Congregations to Improve Our Neighborhoods, provided the faith and community leaders with an opportunity to both denounce the long history of abuse in Florida's fields, as well as to celebrate some of the groundbreaking changes recently made possible by the Campaign for Fair Food.
Dr. Saeed Khan of the Hoda Center Mosque, for example, decried the prevalence of wage theft by relating the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed from the Hadeeth ("Pay the worker his wage before his sweat dries"), while Rev. Jack Donovan of Highlands Presbyterian Church discussed the crucial importance of the Fair Food accords in the context of the ongoing fight against modern-day slavery in U.S. agriculture (a struggle that hit close to home in Alachua county last September).
Students from the University of Florida took part of the event as well, distributing a copy of a resolution passed by the school's student government, whose student body comprises nearly half of the city's population.
The event closed by echoing the letter's own powerful conclusion:
"As the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. teaches us, 'In a real sense, all life is interrelated. The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother's keeper because we are our brother's brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.' Farmworkers, supermarkets and consumers, we are all bound together.
We, the undersigned Gainesville faith leaders, urge Publix Super Markets, Inc, to affirm this reality and work with the CIW to do what is needed to bring the bounty of justice to all of our tables." read more
And if you have a moment, don't miss the local media coverage:
- Video: "'Pennies for Publix' for farmworkers rights" (WCBJ-TV, 7/28/11)
- "Local religious leaders rally against Publix at city hall," (Gainesville Sun, 7/28/11)
July 5, 2011
4th of July Farmworker Freedom Fest!...
UCC leads more than 450 Fair Food activists in huge march on Tampa Publix
Ten years ago at its General Synod, in 2001, the United Church of Christ approved a resolution to endorse the Taco Bell boycott, making the UCC one of the Campaign for Fair Food's earliest, and staunchest, allies in the faith community.
Yesterday, ten years later, at its General Synod in Tampa, the UCC put its faith into action in support of the Campaign for Fair Food once again, this time leading a truly inspirational march on a Tampa Publix store of over 450 people, including several van loads of CIW members who drove up from Immokalee to join in the action.
June 29, 2011
Trader Joe's reveals its inner WalMart...
Sign in the produce section of an Atlanta area Trader Joe's store
In a recent piece for zester.com, entitled "The Profound Impact of a Penny," Barry Estabrook wrote:
"Would you pay one penny more per pound to buy a tomato if you knew it would go a long way toward alleviating labor abuse in the fields?When asked that question, not a single supermarket chain in the country, with the notable exception of Whole Foods Market, said yes.
No grocery giant has a legitimate excuse to pinch that extra penny, but of all the holdouts, the most perplexing is Trader Joe's, which promotes itself as a cheerful bastion of all things ethical..." read more
Trader Joe's stubborn refusal to commit -- in an enforceable and verifiable agreement -- to the Fair Food principles has perplexed many an observer of the Campaign for Fair Food, among them many Trader Joe's customers, who are disgusted by the company's inexplicable hard line against collaborating with workers in Immokalee and Florida tomato growers in the Fair Food program.
But now, thanks to its own in-store promotion (above), we may have gained a little more insight into our purportedly ethical friends at Trader Joe's. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and the photo above -- sent to us from an Atlanta area Trader Joe's store just yesterday by the ever-vigilant Fair Food activist Emiko Soltis -- is no exception...
June 26, 2011
Ohio Fair Food to Kroger: We will not be moved...
... by half-measures and corporate double-talk!
This past Thursday, Kroger executives and shareholders gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio, for what was supposed to be a light-hearted, festive affair celebrating the company's economic success, marked by 30 consecutive quarters of sales growth. But the party was crashed (figuratively, mind you) by an exciting new Fair Food committee, Ohio Fair Food, whose members were determined to remind Kroger and its shareholders that those exciting profits come, in part, at the cost of unconscionable farmworker poverty and exploitation in Florida's tomato fields.
Here below is a quick photo report from the event which, by the way, was Ohio Fair Food's inaugural action (what a way to start!):
June 30, 2011
4th of July Fair Food news round-up!...
Finally! A reason to post a photo of watermelons...
As people across the country prepare for the long weekend and a summer's harvest feast -- including so much watermelon it makes your stomach ache -- we are busy scanning the web to bring you the 4th of July Fair Food news round-up. And it's been a busy week along the Campaign for Fair Food front, so let's get started:
June 22, 2011
"Tomatoland" author Barry Estabrook on tour in Florida!
You can meet the author of the book that's getting all the buzz tonight in Coral Gables, Saturday in Ft. Myers...
Barry Estabrook, formerly of Gourmet magazine (his 2009 article on slavery in Florida, "The Price of Tomatoes," shook Gourmet's otherwise placid world of fine dining, world travel, and vintage wines), and author of the hot new book "Tomatoland," has hit the road as part of the book's national launch.
June 20, 2011
Another Publix grand opening, another protest for Fair Food!
Farmworkers and Fair Food activists from Miami brave the heat to rain on Publix's grand opening parade...
Whenever a new Publix opens in Florida -- which is all too often these days, as the giant grocer consolidates its control over Florida's food market -- the Campaign for Fair Food is there to inform the new customers of Publix's refusal to do its part for fairer wages and working conditions in Florida's tomato fields.
This past Saturday was no exception, as the call for Fair Food was heard loud and clear at the latest store opening in Coral Gables. Farmworkers from Immokalee were joined by allies from the Miami Workers Center, Power U, and dozens of other faith and community allies from around South Florida. Here are some pictures and a quick, first-hand report from the action:
Over 50 people gathered outside the new Publix store near the corner of Flagler and 37th Ave in Coral Gables. The 2:00 protest brought out the most dedicated of Fair Food activists from the South Florida area, hearty souls ready and willing to brave the Florida sun at its hottest.
Among those who answered the call were Rev. Frank Corbishley of the Episcopal Church (center) and Ana Vallejo and Maria Jose Fletcher of the Freedom Network USA (center and right, respectively), long-time CIW allies who joined a delegation to speak with the store manager and a representative from Publix's corporate headquarters. Rev. Corbishley informed the Publix representatives that "although the CIW has not yet called for a boycott of Publix, my wife and I have not shopped at Publix for two years now - I just can't bring myself to go to Publix while this is going on. And it's a shame because we used to like shopping at Publix," while Ana and Maria Jose spoke very forcefully about their work with victims of human trafficking and took Publix to task for having no real means to monitor its supply chain or guarantee its customers that it is doing everything possible to provide tomatoes free from the stain of modern-day slavery.
June 15, 2011
NY Times' columnist Mark Bittman challenges his considerable readership to demand supermarkets support Campaign for Fair Food!
"Bit by bit, things have improved... We can actually help them get better"...
June 11, 2011
NC protesters: "Quiznos has no biznos..."
"... paying less for our tomatoes!"
Students took to the streets in Winston Salem, North Carolina -- with the venerable Student Action with Farmworkers -- in a colorful and creative protest last week outside a local Quiznos. Here's a first-hand photo report, straight from our long-time allies at SAF:
June 7, 2011
Trader Joe's excoriated
in new article by "Tomatoland" author Barry Estabrook!
"The Profound Impact of a Penny" rips Trader Joe's for saying no to "revolution" for Florida tomato pickers...
Here's an excerpt from today's article at the Zester Daily "Soapbox" by Barry Estabrook, author of the hot new book on the Florida tomato industry, "Tomatoland":
"Would you pay one penny more per pound to buy a tomato if you knew it would go a long way toward alleviating labor abuse in the fields?
When asked that question, not a single supermarket chain in the country, with the notable exception of Whole Foods Market, said yes.
No grocery giant has a legitimate excuse to pinch that extra penny, but of all the holdouts, the most perplexing is Trader Joe's, which promotes itself as a cheerful bastion of all things ethical..." read more
Read the article in its entirety here.
May 31, 2011
Meanwhile, in the world beyond Trader Joe's...
Publix, Kroger, Stop & Shop reminded that the Campaign for Fair Food waits for no one!
We don't know about you, but after a week of intense focus on Trader Joe's -- thanks to some surprisingly scurrilous stuff put out there by the supposedly progressive grocery chain -- this website is ready to get back to the rest of the Campaign for Fair Food, and, lucky for us, the Campaign has been quite active across the supermarket industry!
May 26, 2011
Trader Joe's customers talk back...
Fair Food activists talk with customers at a recent protest in New York City. On the right, a Trader Joe's representative stands by.
"Note to Trader Joe's from its customers, via the CIW" puts the exclamation point on the Trader Joe's trilogy
With its recent "Note to our Customers on Florida tomatoes and the CIW," Trader Joe's tried to reassure its customers that the company's decision to stiff-arm the Campaign for Fair Food was the right one. It did so in response to a rising wave of discontent, in response, as Trader Joe's says, to the "many customers [who] ask why we would not just sign on to a cause that is a simple “Fair Food” approach to selling tomatoes."
Well, no conversation on social responsibility and human rights for farmworkers in our food system can -- or ever will again -- be as one-sided as Trader Joe's and its communications department would have it...
May 25, 2011
Debunking -- and decoding -- Trader Joe's
TJ's: We'll endorse the Fair Food Code of Conduct,
we just won't enforce it...
In our last update, we took a first look at Trader Joe's recent "Note to Our Customers," a two-page treatise on why Trader Joe's is refusing to put its purchasing power behind the growing Campaign for Fair Food. In that post we touched on how Trader Joe's had taken some pretty impressive liberties with the facts, and we gave a brief preview of a point-by-point debunking of the company's remarkably weak (and disappointingly unprincipled) communique.Today we are posting our full point-by-point response, so the record can be set straight.
But first... Before debunking, a bit of decoding is in order.
Beyond getting the facts right, we'd be remiss if we didn't share our broader analysis of Trader Joe's latest statement on the Campaign for Fair Food -- just what it all really means once you boil off the froth of misinformation and baseless insinuations. And that is this: While Trader Joe's may not understand exactly how the penny-per-pound Fair Food premium works at this point, paying the surcharge certainly doesn't seem to be the principal barrier to the company's participation in the Fair Food program.
Rather, Trader Joe's problem is with the Fair Food Code of Conduct, and, specifically, with adhering to the Fair Food Code of Conduct. In its latest statement, Trader Joe's flatly refuses to allow anyone -- not even an independent third-party tasked with verifying whether or not growers are in compliance with the Code -- to influence its purchasing decisions.
And that, as they say in the negotiating business, is a deal-breaker, since it is the Code of Conduct, and the new market incentives it has established in the Florida tomato industry, that are driving real change in the fields today.
May 18, 2011
Say it ain't so, Trader Joe's!
Trader Joe's latest communiques on Campaign for Fair Food play fast and loose with the facts, show disturbing willingness to resort to innuendo, echoing darkest days of Burger King campaign...
It seems that the longer Trader Joe's resists the Fair Food movement, the more its leadership -- from the CEO to the public relations department -- is determined to tarnish the company's reputation as an ethical, progressive grocer...
May 15, 2011
Widely-read NY Times food and opinion columnist visits Immokalee, pens initial impressions ahead of longer column...
Calls Campaign for Fair Food "possibly the most successful labor action in the United States in 20 years"
In an exciting development, Mark Bittman -- the NY Times food and opinion columnist beloved for his simple recipes for great food and respected for his critical analysis of the food system -- traveled to Immokalee last week and spent the day learning about the Campaign for Fair Food and the unprecedented transformation taking place in farm labor conditions in Florida today.
While a longer reflection on the campaign and the changes underway is still to come, Mr. Bittman posted a quick essay on his visit late last week. Here's an excerpt:
May 12, 2011
Remains of the week
Publix protests, full report from Future of Food Conference,
Things are never quiet on the Fair Food front, and sometimes the big stories can swamp the more day-to-day activities that keep the campaign moving forward.
While a national day of action focused May Day attention on Trader Joe's with 23 protests across the country, Publix certainly didn't escape the heat...
May 10, 2011
Schlosser: "A food system based on poverty and exploitation will never be sustainable" ...
Standing room only crowd fills storied Gaston Hall on Georgetown University campus for exciting conversation on future of food!
With a line-up including Prince Charles, Eric Schlosser, Wendell Berry, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senator Jon Tester, Will Allen, Vandana Shiva, Panera Bread founder Ron Shaich, and the CIW, there was little room for doubt that the Future of Food Conference, put on by Washington Post Live, would be a lively conversation about the problems of the current food system and the many solutions proposed or already underway to build a better, cleaner, fairer food industry.But it was the crowd -- most of whom came first and foremost to hear the man pictured here on the right, Britain's Prince Charles, who is a lifelong defender of the sustainable food movement and a highly respected organic farmer in his own right -- that made the day-long event as exciting as it was. Audience participation livened up panel discussions and even created some heated exchanges, including the extended back and forth between Secretary Vilsack and the well-informed, feisty crowd of sustainable food enthusiasts, which was one of the day's many high points.
May 6, 2011
Fair Food activists 23, Trader Joe's 0...
Trader Joe's gets an earful from California to NYC in national weekend of action!
This past weekend, frustrated consumers took their feelings to the doorstep of Trader Joe's stores in 23 cities across the country with creative, spirited protests, bringing everything from dozens of balloons in New York City to a parade of puppets in Santa Ana, California. The national action, coordinated by Just Harvest USA, signaled a significant escalation in the campaign calling on Trader Joe's to join Whole Foods and other major food industry leaders in signing a Fair Food agreement and working with the CIW to improve wages and working conditions in the fields where they buy their tomatoes.
The New York action prompted some interesting coverage, including this passage from an article entitled, "Trader Joe's Tomatoes a Target of Sunday's Labor Protest" (The L Magazine, 4/29/11):
May 2, 2011
CIW to speak at Washington Post
"Future of Food" Conference Wednesday
Speakers include Prince Charles, Eric Schlosser, Wendell Berry, US Senator John Tester and more...
From the Washington Post website (the source of the beautiful banner above, as well, in case you were pondering):
The CIW has been asked to speak to the impact of today's food system -- in our case, the $50 billion fresh produce industry and the retail food industry to which it sells its produce -- on the lives of the farmworkers who plant, cultivate, and pick our fruits and vegetables.
[Spoiler alert: WalMart makes farmworkers poor... Or, in a slightly less pithy formulation: While there are significant historical factors behind the human rights crisis in the fields today, the most immediate, and correctable, cause of farmworker exploitation can be found in the marketplace. Farmworkers toil at the bottom of a food supply chain that is every day more and more top-heavy, and this unprecedented consolidation of market power at the top of the retail food industry has created an unrelenting downward pressure on prices -- and therefore wages and working conditions -- at the bottom. And the bottom of the “bottom” in the food supply chain is the person picking fruit in the fields.]
We will also address ways to counteract the unequal bargaining relationship between the produce industry and the handful of retail food and restaurant giants that results in farmworker poverty and degradation.
April 29, 2011
Campaign for Fair Food in the (national) news!
April 27, 2011
Rejected!: South Bronx CSA turns down Trader Joe's donation until TJ's "shows a change of values"...
Plus... Protests set for May 1st at Trader Joe's stores in
18, 19, 22 different cities... and counting!
On April 22, an email came in to the CIW's general account that knocked us all here in Immokalee for a loop (a really good loop). It was such an inspiring email that we thought the best thing to do was to simply share it in its entirety with everyone involved in the Campaign for Fair Food. So, without further ado, here it is:
April 22, 2011
"Royal" Ahold sticks to company line at 2011 shareholders meeting in Amsterdam;
The CIW's Lucas Benitez crossed the Atlantic this week to attend Ahold's 2011 shareholders meeting in Amsterdam. He went in the hope that, given a chance to make his case to the company's board and the gathered shareholders, a more sincere dialogue might be sparked and Ahold could finally bring its US chains (Stop & Shop, Giant, Martin's, and Peapod) in line with the Fair Food principles...
April 20, 2011
Fair Food Spring!
April brings more than May flowers this year... It's bringing exciting, creative Fair Food actions, too!
Like the action pictured above, protests have been busting out all over the country this spring season (for a report and a great photo gallery from the above protest, read "South Fort Myers Publix plays host to protesters," Ft. Myers News-Press, 4/17/11).
From weekly actions in New York City and California's Bay Area to protests in Washington, DC, Providence, RI, the Rio Grande Valley, TX, and more, Fair Food allies have been not just active, but creative in their efforts to convince Publix, Stop & Shop, Trader Joe's, and Quiznos to support the Campaign for Fair Food.
April 13, 2011
Trader Joe's promises to do the right thing!
(on its website...)
CIW responds: Unilateral move by Trader Joe's leaves too many questions unanswered...
Is a website update enforceable?
How do you audit a promise?
Why can't Trader Joe's make a real commitment to social responsibility?
Confronted with mounting pressure from the Campaign for Fair Food, Trader Joe's recently posted an update to its website entitled, “A Note to our Customers about Florida Tomatoes.”
April 11, 2011
Growing discontent on the front lines in Quiznos' resistance to Campaign for Fair Food?
April 7, 2011
Disposable Workers: AARP looks at plight of
those who have grown too old to pick...
A portrait of farm labor abuse is perhaps best understood as a mosaic. There is no one particular injustice -- modern-day slavery or poverty wages, for example -- that tells the whole story.
April 3, 2011
CIW response to Publix's "Put it in the Price" defense
Point-by-point rebuttal leaves Publix nowhere to hide...
Since the CIW first began to press Publix to support the Campaign for Fair Food, the supermarket giant's efforts at communicating its reasons for refusing to participate have been, to put it charitably, inartful...
April 2, 2011
Fair Food committees
popping up on campuses, now!
Last month we told you about the growth of Fair Food committees in cities from New York City to Denver, Colorado.
Well, never ones to be outdone when it comes to organizing in solidarity with farmworkers, students across the country are forming Fair Food committees on campuses across the country!
April 1, 2011
World Communion of Reformed Churches to Publix: Talk to CIW!
|Students from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, join CIW members, local Fair Food allies, and participants in the World Communion of Reformed Churches annual conference at a protest in front of a Naples, Florida, Publix yesterday, Cesar Chavez Day. Photo by David Albers/Naples Daily News. You can see a great gallery of pictures by David Albers from the action here.|
UPDATE: Great story from the WRCR website on the visit is up now!
Drawn to Southwest Florida by the landmark agreement between the CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE), members of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WRC) -- representing 80 million Christians worldwide, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ -- are meeting this weekend in Ft. Myers.
March 29, 2011
"Whether you win or lose, you stand up"...
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) files a lawsuit against Florida tomato giant DiMare for sexual harassment
News broke last Thursday of a major lawsuit filed in federal court by the EEOC, the federal agency empowered to protect workers against discrimination and harassment on the job ("Suit against Immokalee agricultural firm alleges harassment," Ft. Myers News-Press, 3/24/11). The News-Press article describes the suit:
March 28, 2011
|Community members and the CIW museum crew protest outside a Nashville, TN, Publix store Saturday. Photo by Alvine.|
31,000 people tell Publix it's time to respect farmworkers' fundamental rights!
CIW members, Fair Food allies deliver change.org petition to Nashville, TN, Publix following protest...
With the CIW's Modern-Day Museum truck back on the road after several days of mechanical difficulties (whoever thought it was a good idea to take a very used produce truck on tour all over the eastern United States?...), the museum crew headed to Nashville, Tennessee, for what turned out to be a very exciting weekend...
March 23, 2011
A sample of justice for you today?
One of the most encouraging recent developments in the Campaign for Fair Food has been the development of local Fair Food committees, groups like the Community/Farmworker Alliance shown in the video above in action outside a Trader Joe's store in Brooklyn.
Popping up everywhere from Austin, Texas, to Denver, Colorado, from the Bay Area in California to Tampa Bay right here close to home, these area committees bring an incredibly valuable energy, creativity, and touch of local flair to the campaign, not to mention help keep pressure on companies like Trader Joe's, Quiznos, and Stop & Shop...
March 21, 2011
On your marks. Get set. What the...?
More than 18,000 runners and many thousand more spectators got a little surprise on Sunday at Atlanta's Publix Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon -- a large banner appearing at several points along the race route calling on Publix to "stop giving farmworkers' human rights the runaround"! The CIW museum crew and local Atlanta Fair Food activists joined forces to make their message part of the heavily-branded race, doing so not only with the banner pictured above, but also entering several runners as well, each wearing the bright green "Poverty" t-shirt bearing the Publix "P". Those running behind the Fair Food marathoners were reminded that "Publix profits from farmworker poverty" -- mile after mile after mile.
March 19, 2011
More pics and a report from President Carter's vist to the CIW's Modern-Day Slavery Museum...
For a modest little grassroots museum, the CIW's Modern-Day Slavery Museum has seen its share of high-profile visitors and historic locations. But Thursday's visit by President Jimmy Carter to the museum stop on Emory University campus in Atlanta topped them all.
As promised, we have more pictures and a brief report from the visit, which you can see by clicking here. Check out the pics and share a wonderful moment in the history of the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food.
March 17, 2011
President Jimmy Carter visits CIW's
Modern-Day Slavery Museum in Atlanta!
CIW members Oscar Otzoy (left) and Cruz Salucio present former President Jimmy Carter with an original photo during his visit to the CIW's Modern Day Slavery Museum in Atlanta yesterday. The caption of the photo reads: "Lucas Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Reggie Brown of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange sign their historic agreement on November 16th, 2010, ending 15 years of conflict between Florida farmworkers and the state's tomato industry." A similar photo is part of the museum's permanent collection.
In an moving and remarkably personal visit, former President Jimmy Carter toured the CIW's Modern-Day Slavery Museum yesterday in Atlanta...
March 15, 2011
"It is a sword that heals"...
Do the Right Thing Tour media page now complete, see the full story of the unforgettable tour in videos, photos, and first-hand reports!
"It is a sword that heals." We came across those words midway through the Do the Right Thing Tour, during our stop in Atlanta.
On our second day in the city, we received a tour of Atlanta's many Civil Rights movement landmarks -- churches, schools, and other places involved in the city's rich and inspirational history of struggle against legalized segregation. The tour took us to Morehouse College (Dr. Martin Luther King's alma mater), where Mr. Charles Black (our tour guide and himself a distinguished veteran of many battles for civil rights in Atlanta), read aloud Dr. King's words from a statue erected in his honor on the campus. The quote reads:
"Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."
This quote -- and the tour of which it was a part -- had a powerful impact on the crew from Immokalee. It filled us with renewed energy and enthusiasm after a week on the road, cast our struggle with Publix in a penetrating new light, and provided a stark new outline for our reports from the road the rest of the way.
Following our stay in Atlanta -- and from the new perspective provided by standing, however briefly, on the shoulders of the great heroes of this country's Civil Rights movement -- we came to understand our own movement in a more profound way. This new insight was captured in the words of Lucas Benitez from the stage during the final rally in Tampa:
"It is not a question of whether we will win, but when. And when we do win, we will not only help free workers from oppressive conditions in the fields, but we will also free Publix from the impossible burden of supporting and justifying that oppression." read more
We have finally put the finishing touches on the media page from the tour, and by going there you can see the full story of the unforgettable tour in videos, photos, and first-hand reports. So, visit the Do the Right Thing Media Page today! And to get you started that way, here is a collection of some of the incredible and inspiring videos from the tour:
"It is the artist's business to create sunshine when the sun fails"
Powerful video from final day of Do the Right Thing Tour captures the spirit of hope and determination that fueled thousands along East Coast to fight for Fair Food!
The quotation at the top of this post comes from the dramatist and Nobel Prize winner for Literature Romain Rolland. In his essay, "The People's Theater" (1902), he wrote of the birth of a new, more democratic form of theater: "There is only one necessary condition for the emergence of a new theatre, that the stage and auditorium should be open to the masses, should be able to contain a people and the actions of a people."
That spirit of a people's theater was alive and well in Tampa last weekend, and captured beautifully in the video above. The artists' whose work is featured in the video -- farmworkers from Immokalee and allies from across the country -- truly succeeded in creating a new sun "where the sun fails," a sun of hope and of concrete change, a sun of theater in Tampa's streets and a sun of new rights in Florida's fields that not even Publix, despite its tremendous power and wealth, can block forever.
After watching the video, take a few minutes to check out the full Photo Report from the day for a complete wrap-up of an incredible moment in the Campaign for Fair Food.
And check back soon for much more from the Do the Right Thing Tour.
1,500 march on Publix!
The sun of a new day -- a bright new dawn of hope and human rights brought about by the tireless struggle of farmworkers and their allies through the Campaign for Fair Food -- rose over the streets of Tampa yesterday as the Do the Right Thing Tour culminated in a huge, three-part march through the streets of Tampa and a spectacular pageant of people and puppets.
The pageant told the story of how decades of abuse and degradation in the fields is giving way today to hope for a future of fair wages and dignity -- only to be threatened by the opposition of Publix, which would plunge farmworkers back into the darkness of the Harvest of Shame... and of how the alliance of workers and consumers overcomes that opposition in the end. Check out a photo report from the day here, and check back again soon to see a great new video from yesterday's action!
See the photo report from Day 5 here!
The Associated Press story ("Farmworkers target Tampa Publix stores in protests," 3/5/11) recorded the who, what and where of the day's events:
More than 1,500 farmworkers and their advocates rallied for better pay at Publix stores today, calling for the supermarket chain to pay workers a penny more per pound for tomatoes.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers group wrapped up a five-city national tour Saturday. Supporters from church groups also joined coalition members for the Tampa events....
"It's not a question of whether we will win, but when. And when we do win, we will not only help free workers from oppressive conditions in the fields, but we will also free Publix from the impossible burden of supporting and justifying that oppression," Lucas Benitez told the crowd.
And check out the rest of the great press from the day:
- "Immokalee farmworkers target Tampa Publix stores in protests," Naples Daily News, 3/6/11
- "War of words breaks out amongst reps of Publix and CIW in advance of farmworker protest on Saturday," Creative Loafing, 3/4/11
- "Farmworkers protest Publix," WFLA, 3/5/11
- "Farm workers picket Publix," WTVT, 3/5/11
- "Farmworkers protest Publix," WTSP, 3/5/11
Then check back soon for another GREAT video recapping Day 5's events.
"We are all farmworkers"
Click here for details on how you can join us today in Tampa for the "Do the Right Thing March"!
Today -- after 10 long days on the road on the Do the Right Thing Tour, after traveling the length of the East Coast to spread the call for Fair Food -- we march.
For those of you reading this who live close enough to Tampa to possibly join us today, we are including here below the text, in its entirety, of a very powerful, thought-provoking piece by Josh Viertel of Slow Food USA for your consideration. The piece, entitled "We are all farmworkers" and published on The Atlantic website, shares Josh's comments that he made in Boston at the launch of the March on Stop & Shop. And for those of you who can't join us today, take a moment to reflect on Josh's message. It is truly food for thought:
Yesterday I joined over 900 friends for a two-mile march in the snow through Boston. We were there to demand that Stop & Shop and its parent company Ahold do their part improve wages and working conditions for farm workers in the tomato fields of Immokalee, Florida. The march was organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers with support from allies, including the Student/Farm Workers Alliance.
The CIW and its allies are asking major supermarkets to sign on to the same agreement that fast food companies and college food service companies have signed through their Campaign for Fair Food. The CIW has posted a photojournal from the march here and a video here.
Below is a copy of the remarks I made at the opening rally:
Imagine that today two babies will be born. One in Tarrytown, NY. One in Zacatecas, Mexico. On their first day, they will be the same. They will be all possibility. Like twins.
But over the next eighteen years, if conditions continue as they are, opportunity will blossom for one, and whither for another. In eighteen years, one may be standing here in Boston, finishing his first year in college, while the other stands 1,500 miles to the south, paid poverty wages to pick tomatoes in the fields of Immokalee, Florida.
Unseen, unknown to each other, one young man will nourish the other, picking the oranges that go into the juice he drinks for breakfast, and the tomatoes he buys in the supermarket. Oranges and tomatoes tainted, not just with chemicals, but tainted with the suffering of an unknown twin.
Gerardo Reyes was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. [Gerardo is a farm worker, an organizer with the CIW, and a friend.] I grew up in Tarrytown, NY. We are the same age.
It is possible that Gerardo's hands have picked fruit in Florida, that my hands have picked again, in a supermarket in Boston. But today Gerardo and I are not unknown twins. Today Gerardo and I are brothers.
And our lives long path has led us here, to this point today, now, to stand with each of you, and to demand change. Without change, the path is tragic and clear: one child will be falsely nourished through the suffering of his brother. But if we fight today, a new path will open.
On this path, a worker in Immokalee will be paid a penny more per pound picked. But it is not just that. On this path, these two children will grow up into a world where the people who grow and pick our food, and the people who eat it are no longer invisible to each other. A world where we will see what we have in common before we see what we have in difference. A world where we are not farm workers or farm owners, consumers or laborers, but where we are sisters and we are brothers.
And walking down this path, in 18 years, who knows what is possible?
The child raised in Tarrytown, NY, may grow up to find dignity, and meaning in the work of growing and picking real food. And the child born in Zacatecas, Mexico, may well find himself here in Boston, finishing his first year in college.
Each with dignity. Each with pride in the path taken. And each able to see the humanity in the other.
That world is ours to make.
Join us in Tampa. And check back soon for a full, multi-media report from today's Do the Right Thing March!
Join us in Tampa at march
for human rights!
While the Do the Right Thing Tour crew has been on the road, CIW members and allies have been busy themselves back in Immokalee, hard at work putting the final touches on materials and mobilization for this weekend's BIG march on Publix in Tampa. Above is some of the awesome new art that, through a colorful pageant set for Saturday's final rally, will convey the Campaign for Fair Food's message. With your help, that message -- that a new day of human rights is dawning in Florida's fields, but Publix's refusal to do its part threatens to return farmworkers to the darkness of decades of exploitation and degradation -- will be head loud and clear in the streets of Tampa this weekend. Click here for all the details on how you can join us in Tampa!
Farmworkers, consumers come together in Tampa for Fair Food!
The final weekend of the Do the Right Thing Tour is upon us, and with all the action of the past several days in Boston, New York, Maryland, and Atlanta, there's a lot to catch up on, including an extensive file of press clippings that has been piling up for days. In a story from the Ft. Myers News-Press on the upcoming march in Tampa, for example, consumers from the Southwest Florida area explain why they are moved to join farmworkers in the fight for fundamental human rights:
"... The tour's last stop is the Tampa area, where coalition members will be joined by supporters from many area churches, including two Catholic parishes: Church of the Resurrection and St. Columbkille, both in south Fort Myers.
'It's just a great cause and a great purpose,' said Vikki Melchiorre, Resurrection's youth ministry coordinator. 'We've got people of all ages going.'
Chris McBride, a Fort Myers nurse and St. Columbkille parishioner, said if she had Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw's ear, her message would be simple: 'Publix does so much good in the community; just do the right thing by the people who grow our food. So many major corporations have already gone before you, so the way is paved.' read more
At the end of this update, we'll post links to all the other great stories that have come out this week on the Do the RIght Thing Tour. But before we get there, we'd like to share the opinions of a few more consumers about Publix's refusal to support the principles of Fair Food.
Change.org, a longtime ally of the Campaign for Fair Food, has posted an online petition calling on Publix to join with the CIW in working to end farmworker exploitation. The petition has collected nearly 30,000 signatures in just over a week, but more than that, Change.org has invited those who sign the petition to add a personal comment, and we thought we'd share some of those comments with you today:
"I shop at Publix exclusively, 2 or 3 times a week. Your position on this issue needs to change, or I need to change grocery stores." - Julia Dawson, Miami, FL
"I am a real 'fan' of Publix, but if I have to, I will take my business elsewhere until Publix recognizes the fact that the company is in a position to help the farmworkers. And I will also say that I will not mind paying more for tomatoes if the farmworkers are fairly treated." - Deacon Kathy Gilpin, Bradenton, FL
"My Publix in Birmingham is a fine store with great employees serving the public. I'm sure they'd share my concern over this totally uncharacteristic practice. I'm sure I join thousands of customers in supporting the Student Farmworker Alliance!" - Amasa Smith, Birmingham, AL
"The attitude shown by your Media and Community Relations Manager Dwaine Stevens is shocking ... though I shop regularly at Publix, I will be passing until this issue is resolved." - Sherry Schwabacer, Fayatteville, GA
"Publix employee - er, excuse me, "associate" - here. To be honest, I'm not too concerned if my endorsing this petition leads to my being fired. Modern-day slavery should very much be a concern to Publix, which asserts to be a "responsible member of its community."- Kyle M., Jacksonville, FL
"I cannot patronize an organization that refuses to standup for humane treatment of workers providing their products." - Gregory Mann, Hoschton, GA
"I have been a faithful patron of Publix for 10+ years. However, ignoring the atrocities that the tomato pickers are enduring is unconscionable." - Barbara Relles, Sarasota, FL read more
We will be delivering the petition to Publix at the end of the march this Saturday, adding these 30,000 voices to the swelling chorus of consumers calling for Fair Food, a chorus that grows every day that Publix refuses to change its misguided stand on human rights in the fields.
Finally, here below are links to the latest stories on the Campaign and the Do the Right Thing Tour. Take a moment to read them, then ask yourself this: This Saturday, what are you planning on doing? Hanging around the house? Going shopping? Catching a movie? Why not do something, instead, that you will remember for the rest of your life? Join us in Tampa for the march on Publix, and be part of history! (PS: If you need any more convincing, scroll down just a bit to the great new video from Atlanta).
See you in Tampa...
- "Fighting for pennies: Tomato protesters battle supermarkets," The Atlantic, 3/2/11
- "We are all farmworkers," The Atlantic, 3/2/11
- "Coalition of Immokalee Workers to target Publix stores again this weekend," Creative Loafing, 3/3/11
- "Immokalee farmworker group plans Publix protest this Saturday in Tampa," Naples Daily News, 3/2/11
- "Publix customers pledge boycotts until chain stops exploiting farmworkers," Change.org, 3/2/11
- "Publix resists fair trade for American workers," Eat Drink Better, 3/2/11
- "Boston Jewish community marches for fair food," Forward, 3/1/11
"It is a sword that heals..."
The Do the Right Thing Tour crew had a great -- really great -- time in Atlanta on Wednesday, a day that traced a line straight from Atlanta's proud Civil Rights history to the battle for Fair Food today. One elemental similarity between the two movements in particular became manifest over the course of the day in Atlanta, and that was this: Any movement for long-overdue freedom is as much about the journey that takes place in the hearts and minds of those with power as it is about winning respect and dignity for those without.
That insight -- courtesy of an unforgettable tour of Atlanta's Civil Rights landmarks given to the CIW crew by Mr. Charles Black, a veteran of Atlanta's student movement of the early 1960's -- gave rise to the powerful new video above. Please take a couple of minutes to watch the video, and then check out the full Day 4 Photo Report.
Click here to see the Day 4 Report, including photos, video, and press links from Wednesday's unforgettable visit in Atlanta!
Healing Publix : On Day 4, the CIW crew was given a tour of Atlanta's rich history of involvement in the Civil Rights movement by Mr. Charles Black, a Morehouse College student and Civil Rights activist in the 1960's whose central role in Atlanta's student movement provided him a front row seat for some of the most important moments in Civil Rights history.
During the tour, Mr. Black reflected on the many impacts of the Civil Rights struggle in Atlanta and around the country. But after touching on several of the more immediately obvious changes -- on the end of legal segregation, on the establishment of social and economic opportunities never before possible for millions of African Americans -- Mr. Black settled on what he considered to be one of the most important, and most overlooked, changes won through the innumerable sacrifices of the Civil Rights pioneers:
"When you really look at it," he said, "we freed the black people of the time, but we freed the white people, too."
That insight -- that by relieving white people of the burden of having to defend a patently unjust system against the inevitable march of freedom with physical force, of having to buttress that system with laws and customs that flatly violated fundamental principles of justice and human rights, the Civil Rights movement freed white people, too, from the abominations of racism and economic injustice -- is captured in a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the power of nonviolent protest that is engraved on a statue of Dr. King on the Morehouse campus:
"Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."
As you can imagine, this notion provoked a profound reflection within the CIW crew, too.
The video above is a product of that reflection, of the lessons drawn from 50 years ago that still ring true today in the movement for Fair Food. It is itself a reflection on how the ultimately unwinnable task of defending a patently unjust farm labor system against the growing call for fundamental human rights in the fields is clearly starting to wear on the men and women who run Publix.
Following the tour, CIW members joined with Fair Food allies from Atlanta for an exceptionally lively protest at a local Publix. Check out the Day 4 Report for pics from that rally, too, and for a closer look at a truly moving day.
Another day, another delegation of farmworkers and allies turned away by a supermarket industry leader. This time it was the mid-Atlantic retail food chain Giant, but this time it ended with a twist. Find out what's behind this mysterious sign from behind the corporate veil... See a full photo report here.
Click here to see the Day 3 Report, including photos, video, and press links from Tuesday's visit to Giant corporate headquarters in Landover, MD!
The Do the Right Thing Tour continued Tuesday, and in a reprise of Monday's brush-off by Trader Joe's in NYC, the CIW crew and allies were turned away from Giant headquarters in Landover, MD. But this time, the story ended with an unexpected twist. Here's an excerpt from the Day 3 Report:
"... The crew stopped in its tracks for a closer look.
And, to the amazement of all, the message -- pressed mutely to the tinted window of the brick building that looked identical in almost every way to every other building in the vast corporate park, including that of its neighbor, Giant -- said:
A worker -- a person with a heart and a mind of his or her own -- saw the CIW workers and their rejection at the hands of Giant, stopped whatever it was they were doing, grabbed a piece of office paper and a company issued marker, and wrote out an urgent message of love for the farmworkers locked out of the offices that have profited so richly from their labor for so long.
And just like that, the facade of cold, uncaring power that Giant sought to project fell away, revealing the humanity on the other side of the opaque glass and brick walls. With one intensely human gesture, all the strength was stripped from Giant's stony silence..." read more
And for more on the CIW's visit to Giant headquarters, read "Florida tomato pickers target Giant, other grocers," Landover (MD) Gazette, 2/25/11.
Trader Joe's tells farmworkers to shove off!
Farmworkers from Immokalee hoping to deliver a manager's letter to the Trader Joe's store on 72nd and Broadway in the heart of Manhattan get turned away at the door. The rejection was rare even by supermarket standards, as most manager letter deliveries are uneventful, if not cordial, encounters. Not so with Trader Joe's. See a full photo report here.
UPDATE: See the Trader Joe's video here!
Click here to see the Day 2 Report, including photos, video, and press links from Monday's action at Trader Joe's!
The Do the Right Thing Tour continued, following up Sunday's wildly successful March on Stop & Shop with a spirited mid-day protest at a Trader Joe's store in New York's Upper West Side. Here are the links:
- Day 2 photo report
- Trader Joe's action video short
- Press links:
- "Protest at Trader Joe's to demand fair farm labor standards," The Progressive Grocer, 2/25/11
- "Protesters demand Trader Joe's pay tomato pickers extra money," Gothamist, 2/28/11
- "Farmworkers demand better pay from Trader Joe's," DNAInfo, 2/28/11
- "Protest at Trader Joe's to demand fair farm labor standards," The Progressive Grocer, 2/25/11
So check out the news from Day 2, and then visit the Do the Right Thing website here for all the latest news and information you need to follow -- and to join us on -- the Tour!
900+ march on Stop & Shop!
Nearly a thousand people from across the Northeast -- a turnout that shocked even the most optimistic organizers -- gathered on Sunday despite the snow and cold for a joyous, two-mile march through downtown Boston to demand that Stop & Shop work with the CIW and do its part to improve wages and working conditions in Florida's tomato fields. See a full photo report here.
Click here to see the the update, with a full photo report, links to press coverage, and more!
Also: See all the Boston Globe coverage of the protest:
- "Farm workers to pressure Stop & Shop," 2/26/11
- "Stop & Shop protest march urges more pay for tomato farmers," 2/28/11
And visit the Do the Right Thing website here for all the latest news and information you need to follow -- and to join us on -- the Tour!
Time to do the right thing!
Immokalee workers hit the road!
Northeast allies busy laying the groundwork for Sunday's march on Stop & Shop...
The day of departure is finally upon us! And so this morning, as their co-workers gathered in Immokalee's central parking lot just across the street in search of a day's work, 60 intrepid CIW members packed their bags (including whatever cold weather clothing they could muster), packed the bus, and readied themselves for the sacrifice and excitement of 10 days on the front lines in the battle for Fair Food!
Here below is a quick look at the scene in Immokalee as the 2011 Do the Right Thing Tour officially got underway:
Despite the 5:00 am rendezvous time, it was all smiles as CIW members gathered at the community center.
Before the morning's work began, some members even took a moment to document the departure for their own family photo albums.
But as the hour of departure neared, it was all hands on deck, loading the bus and a satellite van with the tools of farmworker protest...
... and when it was time to roll, the early morning smiles were replaced with the look of men and women who know that they are united on a path on which, together, they are making history.
Get ready, Boston, there's fixing to be some fun in your neck of the woods as the Campaign for Fair Food takes its first steps in the first city of the American Revolution!
Meanwhile, 1,500 miles to the north, Fair Food allies in Boston are doing just that, readying for the arrival of the Immokalee caravan and Sunday's big march. From workers' organizations to the Boston Faith and Justice Network, the people of Boston (and the Northeast as a whole) have received our organizing team with open hearts, and are preparing to brave whatever the weather might bring on Sunday to join us in the march for Fair Food.
Here are a few pics from just yesterday in Boston, as allies gathered in anticipation of the arrival of the CIW crew:
Members of the Boston Faith and Justice Network gathered at the Equal Exchange cafe to discuss mobilization plans for Sunday...
... as did members of six different workers' organizations from Framingham, MA, who graciously received CIW organizers, shared stories and strategies...
... and decided not only to join us for Sunday's march on Stop & Shop, but to organize an impromptu picket outside a local store...
... which included a letter drop to a manager who appears not to have been overly moved by the call for farm labor justice in Stop & Shop's supply chain.
Just two days left before the Campaign for Fair Food's first ever major action in Boston! If you live in the Northeast and could join us this Sunday, click here to find all the details on the day's activities.
February 24, 2011
Workers gather at the CIW's community center in Immokalee last night to make final preparations for Friday morning's departure for Boston.
Above, CIW members watch a short theater piece on the struggle for Fair Food entitled "Let the sun shine for all." In the background of this hastily shot photo can be made out a sun being lifted aloft by four workers. The sun -- representing the new day of human rights in the fields -- burns at the heart of the battle over the future of farm labor reform in Florida's fields between the Campaign for Fair Food and the supermarket giants Publix and Ahold.
One day out and everybody's talking about the Do the Right Thing Tour!
* Oxfam e-alert...
* Change.org calls for action...
* Huffington Post (again!) weighs in on Trader Joe's and the Campaign for Food...
* Read the New York/Trader Joe's action Press Release here!
With only one day left before workers in Immokalee load up a caravan and head north to Boston for Sunday's big march on Stop & Shop, things are coming to a boil across the Campaign for Fair Food.
Longtime ally Oxfam America issued an email alert yesterday to thousands of their members in the Northeast. Here's an excerpt:
February 23, 2011
Fair Food activists in the Rio Grande Valley were almost carried away on the winds of change sweeping across the country as they protested this past weekend outside a Quiznos restaurant (actually, it was the Valley's famous winds that nearly blew them over, but the whole "fast and furious/winds of change" thing has more zest to it...).
Fast and furious update, Part II:
* "Quiz-No!": Quiznos not off the hook, even as Campaign readies for Do the Right Thing Tour...
* Mayor of Sarasota, FL, stands with the Campaign for Fair Food...
* NESRI, NYC-based Community/Farmworker Alliance collaborate on great new mobilization video for the Tour!
Updates are coming in triplicate these days as the run-up to the Do the Right Thing Tour enters its final forty-eight hours, and it's all we can do to keep up with events as they unfold! So, without further ado, here's the breaking news from the front in the Battle for Fair Food.
First -- in what may actually be a first in the history of the Campaign for Fair Food -- the Mayor of Sarasota, Florida, Kelly Kirschner, has taken a stand with farmworkers calling on Publix to help end "Florida's long record of farm labor abuse." Mayor Kirschner issued a statement this week on Publix and the Campaign, which we are happy to be able to share with you in its entirety here below:
Februrary 22, 2011
With the Do the Right Thing Tour just three days away, the news starts flying fast and furious in the Campaign for Fair Food!
Read the Boston Press Release here...
Orlando Publix protest (above, right) keeps the heat on the Florida grocery giant...
Huffington Post piece invites the world to join us for the Tampa march on Publix...
CIW members in Immokalee are making final preparations for their Friday morning departure and the long ride up I-95 to Boston, first stop on the Do the Right Thing Tour.
To get a feel for the march through downtown Boston planned for this Sunday, you can read the Boston Press Release here. Here's a quick excerpt:
February 20, 2011
The New York-based Community/Farmworker Alliance gets together to paint Dutch-language protest signs -- slogans courtesy of Fair Food activists in Amsterdam -- for the Feb. 27th Stop & Shop march in Boston.
Amsterdam, New Amsterdam team up to demand "Justice for Tomatenplukkers!"
Fair Food activists on both sides of the Atlantic go Double Dutch to call out Stop & Shop parent company Ahold...
New York City began its life as a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement known as New Amsterdam. Today, nearly 400 years later, the spirit that connects NYC with its Dutch roots is stronger than ever, thanks to consumers with a conscience on both continents!
Fair Food activists in New York have hooked up with their counterparts in Amsterdam and cities across The Netherlands to mobilize for next Sunday's huge march on Stop & Shop in Boston. The connection? Stop & Shop's Amsterdam-based parent company Ahold.
February 13, 2011
Mobilizing, Immokalee style!...
CIW's 2011 Year of the Worker Party gets ball rolling for Do the Right Thing Tour!
Last week, we took a swing through several ally communities mobilizing for the Do the Right Thing Tour, chronicling the gatherings, actions, and plans of Fair Food activists from Tampa, FL, to Portland, ME, all aimed at getting the word out about the upcoming tour (now just two weeks away!).
Today, our mobilization report wraps up where it all started, in Immokalee, where, as we enter the final stretch before heading north on I-95 to Boston, it was time for the 2011 Year of the Worker Party. The party -- a tradition that began in 2000 -- is a day-long community festival of music, games, and speeches that brings the farmworker community together like nothing else in Immokalee.
But this year, there was a new and special spirit to the festivities: Celebration of the victories of the past year and the changes already underway on several Florida farms! Those victories -- and the urgent need to secure and deepen the changes they have made possible -- fueled the Fiesta this year with a passion and optimism like never before...
February 11, 2011
|Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls with Oscar Otzoy of the CIW after last night's show in Tampa, where Amy spoke from the stage about the CIW, the Campaign for Fair Food, and the big march on Publix this March 5th. With shows in Gainesville, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale, the Indigo Girls are helping raise awareness of the Campaign and the upcoming action among thousands of their fans.|
Mobilization for Do the Right Thing Tour not just an East Coast thing!
Communities as far west as Denver, CO, are organizing to caravan east in support of Fair Food...
This week we have taken you on a tour of the key East Coast cities where the Do the Right Thing Tour will be taking a stand for Fair Food in just a few weeks. From Boston to Tampa and New York City, we've given you first hand reports from Fair Food activists who are pulling out all the stops to mobilize for the biggest action of the year.
We'd like to wrap up the week with a look outside the key cities that lie along the tour route. We've already received reports of caravans being organized in cities with strong Fair Food Committees, places like Denver, CO, Austin, TX, and Lawrence, KS. Delegations are also forming in cities where Fair Food communities are just now starting to take root, cities like Nashville, TN, New Orleans, LA, and Minneapolis, MN.
February 8, 2011
New York City makes itself heard in the ramp up to the Do the Right Thing Tour!
Northeast Encuentro ends with huge march and protest at NY Trader Joe's (right); Buses from NYC to Boston filling up fast for the 27th...
February 6, 2011
Tampa, Sarasota let Boston know they won't be outdone when it comes to mobilizing for the Do the Right Thing Tour!
In the pews, in the streets, and on campus with the Slavery Museum, people learn about and take action for Fair Food...
|Students and faculty from the University of South Florida in Tampa visit the Modern-Day Slavery Museum during its stay on campus last week and receive a tour from CIW members Oscar Otzoy and Leonel Perez.|
Last week we told you about Fair Food activists in the Greater Boston area mobilizing for the big march on Stop & Shop this Feb. 27th. But today's update belongs to Southwest Florida, where people across the region are talking about Publix, the Campaign for Fair Food, and getting ready to hit the streets in Tampa this March 4th and 5th for the culmination of the CIW's "Do the Right Thing Tour"!
Organizing efforts are going especially strong on university campuses, in places of worship, and at community gatherings throughout the coastal communities that run from Sarasota through St. Petersburg and up to Tampa.
For a sense of the growing discussion taking place in the lead up to the tour (now just three weeks away!), below is an excerpt from a sermon given earlier this morning by the Rev. Clay Thomas of First Presbyterian Church in Sarasota, preaching on Isaiah 58 which calls on believers "to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free":
February 2, 2011
|Boston area Fair Food activists come together at an event hosted by Moishe/Kavod Jewish Social Justice House on Martin Luther King Day. Young people learned about the Campaign for Fair Food and then made signs for the march. Photo by Sarah Berry|
Boston, Tampa communities mobilizing for actions!
Food Justice movements unite!: Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USA, to march with CIW, speak on Feb. 27th at Boston protest...
Ahold Vice President Harriet Hentges throws fuel on the fire in meeting with Fair Food delegation at headquarters outside Boston...
Things are really hopping in Boston and Tampa as students and youth, people of faith, labor activists, and community members are spreading the word and mobilizing their families and friends to join workers from Immokalee this Feb. 27th in Boston and March 4-5th in Tampa on the "Do the Right Thing Tour"!
Here's a dispatch straight from our organizing team on the ground in freezing, snowy Boston:
February 16, 2011
Boston clergy circulate powerfully-worded letter to Stop & Shop among fellow religious leaders throughout Northeast!
Plus... Trader Joe's claims to sustainability coming under increasing scrutiny...
From the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis to the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, religious leaders from Boston and across the Northeast are signing on to a letter calling on Stop & Shop and its parent company Ahold to "work with the CIW to do what is needed to bring the bounty of justice to all of our tables."
Here's an excerpt:
February 1, 2011
As Month of Protests continues (on right, protesters picket a Tampa Publix last week), Oxfam America posts a great write up on CIW's recent agreement with FTGE!
Fair Food activists everywhere are making preparations to join the "Do the Right Thing Tour" (and its two major actions, Boston/Feb. 27 and Tampa/March 4-5). Here in Florida, those preparations include a Month of Protests, as Publix consumers, like those shown above at a protest in Tampa last week, are taking to the streets in the weeks leading up to the tour.
Meanwhile, longtime Campaign for Fair Food ally Oxfam is adding its considerable web voice to those praising the CIW's recent agreement with the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange ("Historic breakthrough in Florida tomato fields," 1/31/11).
January 31, 2011
|CIW members and documentarians from the award-winning Canadian film production company Mercury Films shoot scenes for an educational video that will be distributed to farmworkers on over 90% of Florida's tomato fields beginning next season. The video is just one way workers will learn about their new rights under the Fair Food Code of Conduct in a process that is already underway on some of Florida's largest tomato farms. Mercury Films personnel are generously donating their time and resources to help produce the unique new video.|
Campaign for Fair Food news round-up!
Change.org calls out Ahold; Neighbors call Publix to account; NYC Community Farmworker Alliance readies for Northeast Encuentro (Feb. 4-5)...
As the Campaign for Fair Food inches closer to the big "Do the Right Thing Tour" (now less than one month away!), the focus continues to tighten on Ahold and Publix.
Over at change.org, the exciting new media center for grassroots social change, they're singling out Ahold brand Stop & Shop for its refusal to work with the CIW, and encouraging consumers to join the Fair Food march in Boston this February 27th. In the process, they do a fine job of framing the theory of change behind the Campaign for Fair Food and the decision before Ahold executives today:
January 27, 2011
|A student Fair Food activist holds up a slice of tomato during last year's debate on the Student Senate resolution calling on Ararmark to work with the CIW.|
Pace quickens as Campaign for Fair Food enters the final month before the launch of the "Do the Right Thing Tour"!
University of Florida student government passes resolution calling on Publix to work with CIW!
Student government leaders at the University of Florida in Gainesville have once again used their office to demand fair wages and humane working conditions for the state's farmworkers.
|The Publix "P" becomes an ostrich in this original cartoon by Fair Food activist Casey N. Kindle.|
January 26, 2011
Southwest Florida religious leader excoriates Publix in powerful Op/Ed!
Calls Publix's response to human rights violations in supply chain "deplorable"...
In a scorching Op/Ed published in Monday's Ft. Myers News-Press, Rabbi Bruce Diamond penned a rousing call to action for all people of faith -- all Fair Food activists -- who are exasperated with Publix's refusal to do its part in reforming farm labor conditions in Florida.
Because the News-Press has yet to post the piece online, we are including the text here below in its entirety:
January 23, 2011
"Do the Right Thing Tour" announced!
Month of Protests leading up to big action underway...
|Fair Food activists picket a Washington, DC, area Giant supermarket during last November's Supermarket Week of Action. Giant is one of Ahold's two major US brands. Ahold also owns Stop & Shop.|
According to company lore, Publix founder George Jenkins was fond of telling his colleagues in Publix management, "Don't let making a profit get in the way of doing the right thing."
Clearly, the people who run Publix today -- including Jenkins' own grandson, Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw -- are failing to heed their founders' admirable advice. Failing miserably.
First Publix turned a blind eye to human rights violations in its supply chain, saying -- with stupefying disregard -- that "atrocities" in the fields are "not our business." And now that there is an historic agreement between the CIW and the Florida tomato industry, Publix still refuses to pay the penny-per-pound to do its part in lifting farmworkers out of abject poverty. It is clear that the people who run Publix today have taken George Jenkins' wise counsel and stood it squarely on its head.
And they are not alone. Ahold, too, has chosen to put profits before the people who make its profits possible.
And so, we are announcing the "Do the Right Thing Tour"!
Go to the Do the Right Thing Tour website today!
January 21, 2011
This weekend, go see "Tron Legacy" and watch a Fair Food activist kick butt!
Tron star Olivia Wilde (right) endorses the Campaign for Fair Food...
Plus: CIW returns to Lakeland, Publix's backyard, for MLK Day march!
Olivia Wilde -- star of the biggest movie of the holiday season, "Tron Legacy", and of the hit TV series "House" -- has endorsed the Campaign for Fair Food. Beyond being one of Hollywood's fastest rising stars, Ms. Wilde comes from a distinguished family of journalists with a long history of political activism and is herself a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice. We are truly grateful for her support and willingness to lend her name to the movement for Fair Food.
January 19, 2011
New York Times: "After Long Fight, Farmworkers in Florida Win Increase in Pay"
Article details "extraordinary agreement with local tomato growers and several big-name buyers" ...
Following its strongly positive December editorial on the CIW's agreement with the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange ("One Penny More a Pound," 12/5/11), The New York Times today ran a more in-depth article on the new accord. Here below are two extended excerpts, but you can find the article in its entirety here: Continue reading this post >>
January 17, 2011
Happy MLK Day!
Dr. King's words as true today as they were half a century ago, ring out as powerful message for Publix, Ahold, supermarket industry...
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 82 years old today had his life not been cut short by an assassin's bullet in Memphis, TN, in 1968. Dr. King was in Memphis at the time to support striking sanitation workers, a reflection of the turn his work had taken in the later years of his life, as he shifted his organizing focus increasingly toward the fight to end poverty and reduce economic inequality.
An early sermon, from 1956, signalled Dr. King's deep commitment to economic justice. From "The Least of These: Martin Luther King's Advocacy for the Poor":
"In 1956, King preached a sermon that echoed Basil's condemnation of greed: 'God never intended for a group of people to live in superfluous, inordinate wealth while others live in abject, deadening poverty. God intends for all of His children to have the basic necessities of life, and He has left in this universe enough and to spare for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth.'" read more
Dr. King's remarkable life and words provide immeasurable inspiration to those who continue to fight for economic justice today. But more than that, they provide invaluable insight, as well, for today's human rights activists seeking to understand the forces that stand in the way of a more just society.
In honor of Dr. King's birthday, we include here two short articles that provide a timely reminder of this great man's legacy, a legacy that has made all of our lives better, and more humane, in so many ways:
- "'The Least of These' -- Martin Luther King's Advocacy for the Poor," 1/16/11
- "10 Martin Luther King, Jr., Quotations," 1/16/11
Happy birthday, Dr. King! We will never give up your fight.
January 13, 2011
Human Trafficking Day turns spotlight on slavery in the fields, supermarket industry refusal to work with CIW, Campaign for Fair Food!
As was the case with Andy Marlette, a widely-circulated cartoonist with the Pensacola News Journal who penned the above cartoon in honor of Human Trafficking Day, many an editorial writer had Florida farm slavery on their mind this past January 11th. Continue reading this post >>
January 11, 2011
|Fifth-grade students from Workmen’s Circle Jewish Sunday School -- who led more than 100 parents and peers on a march from a Trader Joes to a Stop & Shop in Brookline, MA -- give the Stop & Shop manager a piece of their minds, and a much needed lesson on social justice. Read more about the protest here.|
Protests, press continue as momentum builds in Campaign for Fair Food in lead up to February supermarket action!
Kids picket Stop & Shop in Boston, Denver Fair Food protests at Quiznos HQ; Campus Progress pens two great articles on history of the Campaign...
In an exciting prelude to February's big Ahold action in Boston, a courageous and spirited group of kids from Boston's Workmen's Circle Jewish Sunday School led a crowd of more than 100 on a protest march from a Trader Joes to a Stop & Shop in Brookline in support of the Campaign for Fair Food!...
January 7, 2011
Northeast Fair Food allies, mark your calendars...
Northeast Encuentro set to meet in New York City, Feb. 4-6; Allies from across the region will gather to celebrate recent victories in Campaign for Fair Food, strategize for Boston Ahold action in February!
As organizing ramps up across the country for the big Spring Supermarket Action, Fair Food allies in the Northeast are getting ready for a major regional meeting to coordinate mobilization efforts around the February 27th action in Boston targeting Ahold (owner of the Giant and Stop & Shop supermarket chains).
January 6, 2011
CIW, Human Rights Clinic at University of Miami School of Law announce collaboration for farm labor rights!
When the CIW's Fair Food Code of Conduct goes into effect this coming November on over 90% of Florida's tomato farms -- covering more than 30,000 workers -- the implementation and monitoring of the new Code will be an undertaking of unprecedented scope and complexity.
The resources necessary to carry out that monumental task are starting to come together. The Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami's School of Law will be pitching in, bringing the expertise and energy of law professors and students to everything from the production of worker rights educational materials to the enforcement of the Fair Food Code of Conduct's complaint resolution mechanism.
In a release announcing the new collaboration, Gerardo Reyes of the CIW said of the news:
"We are truly fortunate to be able to work with the University of Miami Human Rights Clinic as we embark on the development of this exciting new approach to farm labor reform in Florida," said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. "We have always felt that the urgent need to modernize agriculture in our state was not just a farm worker community problem, but a Florida problem, one that affects the state as a whole and requires all available resources to solve. This partnership underscores that fact, and the energy and insight that these young scholars bring to the table will be invaluable in that process." read more
This is very positive news, and will undoubtedly facilitate the roll-out of the Fair Food program immeasurably.
January 3, 2011
Happy New Year, from Tampa Bay Fair Food!
Great new video launches us into 2011 and the Publix/Ahold spring action...
Plus: Two more lists take a look at the remarkable year that was in 2010!
Started before Thanksgiving, not finished until after Christmas, and launched with the New Year, the above video -- from the fine people at the exciting new Tampa Bay Fair Food committee -- wraps all the goodwill of the holiday season in a perfect package and delivers it, in a heartfelt message of thanks, to Florida's farmworkers. And it does it all to a great, great soundtrack! Don't miss it.
December 28, 2010
photo by Andrew West, News-Press
Looking back: CIW's own "annus mirabilis" prompts Ft. Myers News-Press to name CIW "2010 Person of the Year"!
Looking forward: Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel names Campaign for Fair Food one of five "causes worth fighting for" in 2011...
In 1905, Albert Einstein had a pretty good year.
In what has become known as his "annus mirabilis," Einstein published four papers that "contributed substantially to the foundation of modern physics and changed views on space, time, and matter." In the space of one year, Einstein changed forever how we -- all of us -- understand and live in the world, our very relationship to the universe, all while working full time as a patent clerk. It was truly a "year of wonders."
In 2010, the CIW had a pretty good year, too. Not Albert Einstein good, mind you, but still quite good for a group of farmworkers, living and working in one of the country's poorest towns, that decided to take on the trillion-dollar food industry ten years ago with little more than an untested theory of change and a deep wellspring of commitment. But despite those humble beginnings, we have arrived today -- after a year that included this, this, this, this, this, and this, among other things -- at the threshold of fundamental labor reform in Florida's notoriously brutal tomato fields, of real and lasting change in the wages and working conditions of Florida's poorest, least-protected workers.
In recognition of this year of unprecedented victories, the Ft. Myers News-Press has recognized the CIW as Southwest Florida's "2010 Person of the Year"! Here's an excerpt from the article announcing the recognition, entitled "Coalition of Immokalee Workers' fight for justice leads to historic win," (Ft. Myers News-Press, 12/26/10):
December 19, 2010
'Tis the season to be greedy...
Publix, Ahold angling for a free ride on road to social responsibility
The disciplines of economics and philosophy rarely intersect, but one place where they have met over the years, a place visited by some of our greatest minds -- from Plato to Socrates, David Hume to John Stuart Mill -- is in a vexing quirk of collective action often called "The Free Rider Problem." From wikipedia:
"In economics, collective bargaining, psychology, and political science, "free riders" are those who consume more than their fair share of a public resource, or shoulder less than a fair share of the costs of its production... The name "free rider" comes from a common textbook example: someone using public transportation without paying the fare. If too many people do this, the system will not have enough money to operate." read more
Scottish philosopher David Hume provided another example in his reflection on this age old phenomenon:
"Two neighbours may agree to drain a meadow, which they possess in common; because ‘tis easy for them to know each other's mind; and each must perceive, that the immediate consequence of his failing in his part, is, the abandoning the whole project. But ‘tis very difficult, and indeed impossible, that a thousand persons shou'd agree in any such action; it being difficult for them to concert so complicated a design, and still more difficult for them to execute it; while each seeks a pretext to free himself of the trouble and expence, and wou'd lay the whole burden on others." (emphasis added) read more
At this point you may be asking yourself: What in the world does all this have to do with the Campaign for Fair Food.
Fair question. But, as it turns out, the answer is: Everything.
December 14, 2010
Pensacola resident Peter Stedman joins the picketing of Publix’s grand opening in Daphne, Alabama. (photo by Devin R. Golden, Baldwin County News)
"If there are some atrocities going on, it's not our business."
- Publix spokesperson Dwaine Stevens, 12/11/10
Have the people who run Publix completely lost their minds?
Speaking to a reporter following a protest in Daphne, Alabama, last week, Publix spokesperson Dwaine Stevens actually said these words -- "If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business" -- in response to questions about farm labor exploitation in the grocery giant's supply chain.
Here's the passage, from an article in the Baldwin County News, entitled, "Protesters picket Publix's Saturday grand opening over labor issues" (12/11/10):
“We don’t have any plans to sit down with the CIW,” Publix’s Media and Community Relations Manager Dwaine Stevens said, also citing that the company sells around 36,000 products in the stores and it cannot get involved with each product’s labor issues. “If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business. Maybe it’s something the government should get involved with.” (emphasis added) read more
So, there you have it. A remarkably honest, almost naked, formulation of Publix's position on supply chain responsibility. "Atrocities" in our supply chain? Not our business.
Not. Our. Business.
Among other things, Stevens' statement truly begs the question: Are there really no "atrocities" that would give Publix pause?...
December 9, 2010
Letter from an Immokalee Worker...
CIW member Carmen Esquivel pens a letter to Publix, another to fellow workers in Immokalee
Every hour of every day, the CIW organizes in two very different worlds: In the farmworker community, and, for lack of a better term, in the outside world.
They are two very distinct spheres of activity -- with distinct organizing styles, strategies, tools, languages, and objectives -- and rarely do they meet, usually intersecting only during the major annual actions when large numbers of CIW members and Fair Food allies come together for an extended period of living and organizing side by side.
This website is almost exclusively an organizing tool of the "outside world," where we share news and analysis of the Campaign for Fair Food in a language and a style aimed at the vast and growing network of Fair Food allies across the country, and even overseas (we're talking to you, Ahold!...).
But today, those two worlds come beautifully together in a letter -- two letters, actually -- penned by CIW member Carmen Esquivel (shown here, above, speaking at the rally following April's huge Farmworker Freedom March in Lakeland).
NY Times editorial celebrates CIW agreement with FTGE, Campaign for Fair Food!
An editorial published in Saturday's New York Times begins:
"Fair trade is finally coming to the tomato fields of Florida, where farmworkers have won a remarkable victory in a 15-year struggle for better pay and working conditions. Last month, they struck a deal with growers to raise workers? pay and to create an industry code of conduct, a health and safety program and a system to resolve worker complaints..." read more
The editorial goes on to give a brief primer on the history of the campaign, reminds the reader that the supermarket industry has yet to do its part to support the Fair Food movement, and concludes, "The Immokalee victory won?t impose fairness overnight, but after generations of exploitation, part of the farm industry is pointing in the right direction."You know something big is happening when events in Immokalee make it into the pages of, first, the Wall Street Journal and, now, the "Old Gray Lady". Don't miss the great editorial!
November 30, 2010
photo by Naples Daily News
Here's your media round-up with two editorials, two multi-media reports, two blog posts, two stories on the Modern-Day Slavery Museum (seen here on the right), and two -- yes two -- Spanish-language stories on the recent breakthrough agreement with the FTGE!
There has been a lot happening in Immokalee recently, and as we've tried to keep up with the breaking news, some stories have managed to slip through the cracks. So, it's time for a big media round-up -- so big, in fact, that it might as well be double, with two stories in several categories. So, without further ado, here's your "Two-fer Tuesday" media round-up:
November 24, 2010
CBS Evening News: "Harvest of Shame" Revisited
The original "Harvest of Shame" was broadcast on the day after Thanksgiving, 1960. Fifty years later, CBS Evening News returned to Immokalee to revisit Florida's fields and, thanks to the recent advances in the Campaign for Fair Food, found reason for hope. Check out the video above, and then click here to see excerpts from the original documentary.And when you're done, just take a moment to consider the inexplicable -- some might say infuriating -- refusal of companies like Publix, Ahold, and Kroger to support the process of change that is underway today in Florida's fields. While the harvest itself may no longer be as shameful as it was when Edward R. Murrow first brought farm labor exploitation to the consciousness of the nation fifty years ago, the attitude of the major supermarket companies certainly is. And, ultimately, it is their attitude that will either hold this movement back -- and so hold farmworkers in continuing and unpardonable poverty and degradation -- or allow justice to truly flourish, and make real the dreams of farmworkers and Fair Food activists across the country of an agricultural industry where workers are paid a fair wage and treated with dignity.This Thanksgiving, we give thanks for the huge steps forward this campaign has taken over the past year, and for the hope that progress gives us that, one day, the men and women who run our country's giant supermarket chains will find their way to doing the right thing by those people whose undervalued labor has built their riches for so very long. But until they do, we will continue to fight for fundamental human rights in Florida's tomato fields. And you can join us -- click here for more on the CIW's Supermarket Campaign and plans for the big actions in Boston and Tampa this coming spring.
November 22, 2010
Fair Food activists get seriously creative in supermarket actions across the country!
Tomatoes testify outside Trader Joe's in NYC, Lady Gaga sings in Berkeley, pennies for Publix delivered by wheelbarrow in Naples... Week of Action sends powerful message: No more excuses. Now is the time for Fair Food!
When representatives of the CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange sat down last week to end a decade-long impasse in Immokalee, the picture suddenly became crystal clear in the Campaign for Fair Food: The only thing, now, standing between the Fair Food movement and the full realization of its goals -- fair wages and dignified working conditions in Florida's tomato fields -- is the supermarket industry.
And as fate would have it, that very same week, Fair Food activists "from California to the New York island" were taking to the streets in conjunction with the National Supermarket Week of Action.
November 15, 2010
Thousands of pennies are rolled by wheelbarrow for delivery to a Publix store this past Sunday in Naples, Florida.
"Pennies for Publix" campaign rolls into Naples, Florida, Publix store as part of three-day "Harvesting Hope" event!
See a photo report from the weekend's events here...
This past weekend's "Harvesting Hope" event in Naples, Florida, was a huge hit, with hundreds of people turning out for events from a benefit concert to a panel on modern-day slavery, a spirited Publix protest, and a stop by the CIW's modern-day slavery museum.
November 11, 2010
Florida churches organize "Pennies for Publix" campaign to demonstrate consumer support for Publix participation in Campaign for Fair Food!
Plus: If you live In Southwest Florida, don't miss this weekend's three-day "Harvesting Hope"...
Here's what the Florida Council of Churches wants to know this Thanksgiving season:
"As you gather around the Thanksgiving table wouldn't it be glorious to know the meal before you is not a product of unjust or slave-like labor conditions? Let us be thankful that we have not been exploited, and the food before us is not brought to our table through exploited labor!" read more
The question is the launching point of an ingenious campaign, entitled "Farmworkers in the fields are family too," intended to cast light on Publix's stubborn refusal to support the CIW's Fair Food principles, principles which are quickly becoming the industry standard in Florida's tomato industry.
November 8, 2010
Massachusetts Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice won't take no for an answer!
Letter to Ahold: "... Our repeated requests to meet with Harriet Hentges, vice president of corporate responsibility and sustainability for Ahold USA, have met with frustration."
With the Campaign for Fair Food's big Spring Supermarket Action less than four months away, it seems that supermarket giant Ahold (owner of the Stop & Shop and Giant grocery chains) is quickly becoming the CIW's lead organizer in the Boston area, its disdain for consumers' concerns driving more and more people into the Fair Food fold by the day.
The Massachusetts Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice has been trying to get a meeting with Ahold representatives to discuss their support for the Campaign for Fair Food for months, but Ahold's social responsibility office has been giving them the run-around. Frustrated, they went up the chain of command and wrote to Stop & Shop's Jeff Enright (Senior Vice President, Supply Chain). Here are some excerpts from their strongly-worded letter (you can read the letter in its entirety here):
November 4, 2010
Campaign for Fair Food in the news!
Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice (FL): "The recent announcements of the agreements which benefit the farmworkers bring great joy"...
November 2, 2010
Supermarket Week of Action (Nov. 14-21) starts one week from Sunday.
Tell your local grocer it's time to give thanks to
the farmworkers whose poverty has driven their profits for years!
Video extra: Check out the great new Quiznos protest video, where the Denver Fair Food crew calls on Quiznos to sign an agreement "Glee"-style...
With Halloween behind us, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and with it comes the supermarket industry's busiest time of the year. What better time to let your local grocer know that you are one of the growing number of consumers and farmworkers -- and Florida tomato growers -- working together to bring about a fairer, more humane produce industry?
Our friends at the Student/Farmworker Alliance are spearheading this year's Supermarket Week of Action, and they have kindly assembled everything you could possibly need to take action -- however big or small -- this November, including this impressive action tool kit.
So, visit the SFA website today, get together with your friends and neighbors, and be part of the action this November. Whether you simply drop off a manager's letter and chat with your local grocer, or you organize a picket and really make some noise, every action counts, and helps us keep building the momentum behind the Campaign for Fair Food.
And don't forget to take pictures! Once the week is over, we'll be posting reports from around the country, and we want to highlight your action here.
We've never been closer to making our dream of a more modern, more humane Florida tomato industry a reality. Now more than ever, your action counts. But if you're still not convinced that now is the time for action, check out this Supermarket Campaign video and then decide. A picture is worth a thousand words, even more so when those pictures are moving.
And speaking of exciting videos... We leave you today with the much-anticipated, remarkably-choreographed, wonderfully produced and edited "Quit Stalling, Quiznos" video, courtesy of Denver Fair Food. So, with no further ado, here it is -- enjoy!:
October 27, 2010
Now is the time
for Fair Food!...
In the wake of recent agreements, the Campaign for Fair Food is heating up, with Quiznos on the clock in Denver (right), supermarket protests across the country, a must-read op/ed on the recent agreements from the St. Petersburg Times, and a very nice surprise out of Nashville!
While the CIW has been busy taking care of business in Immokalee (reaching game-changing agreements with tomato industry leaders Pacific Tomato Growers and Six L's), Fair Food allies across the country have been quite busy themselves, organizing protests at Quiznos, Publix, and Trader Joe's stores from Oakland to New York City.
Buoyed by the victories in Immokalee, Fair Food allies are taking to the streets with renewed energy and an unassailable message, captured in the words of this sign at the big Quiznos protest in Denver:
"Quiznos: The world is changing. When will you?"
October 24, 2010
|An ally from the Florida Immigrant Coalition holds a blown-up photo of Publix's new Fair Trade coffee during Thursday's early morning protest. Anger over Publix's glaring double standard on Fair Trade coffee and Fair Food tomatoes sparked a protest at last week's big store opening in Naples.|
"You say GreenWise, we say GreenWash!"
Publix's double standard on display as protesters picket last week's "GreenWise" store opening in Naples, Florida;he
CIW, allies call out Publix for aggressively marketing Fair Trade coffee while stubbornly turning its back on Fair Food tomatoes...
As readers of this site may remember, Publix -- eyeing its competitor Whole Foods and the organic giant's highly successful connection to the growing market for sustainable food -- recently launched a new line of groceries under its exclusive "GreenWise" label.
The GreenWise Fair Trade coffee label (pictured above), for example, extols the virtues of Fair Trade, saying, "Fair trade prices help small farmers provide employees with livable wages and work conditions. Which fosters the same values we do: community, well-being, and a nicer world.”
Sounds great, huh? If only there were some way Publix could apply those same principles to its Florida tomato supply chain and support a collaboration of farmworkers and tomato growers right here in Florida...
But while Whole Foods lost no time in addressing the contradiction between its socially conscious brand and the exploitation of farmworkers in Florida's tomato fields -- signing a Fair Food agreement with the CIW in 2008 -- Publix stubbornly continues to reject participation in the rapidly expanding Campaign for Fair Food.
Which is why scores of protesters gathered at sunrise in Naples, Florida, at last Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony outside Publix's newest store to prominently feature the "GreenWise" line. Among them was a sizable delegation of local clergy who personally delivered a truly persuasive letter to company leadership on-hand for the grand opening (right). The religious leaders' missive -- signed by eight Naples pastors hailing from eight different denominations, nearly all of whom lead congregations based no more than a few miles from the new Publix -- expressed a shared hope that Publix swiftly start to join with the CIW to "make a powerful contribution toward ending the human rights crisis in Florida’s fields." Read the full religious leaders' letter here.
October 21, 2010
MORE great news out of Immokalee!
Six L's -- Florida's largest tomato grower -- joins forces with CIW for Fair Food!
With the the 2010 tomato season just around the corner, momentum for the Campaign for Fair Food and its industry-changing standards for real social accountability just keeps growing!Today, the CIW and Immokalee-based Six L's made it official: Florida's largest tomato grower is joining the Fair Food program. Six L's has agreed to pass on the penny-per-pound and to adopt the Code of Conduct at the heart of the campaign, including a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process aimed at insuring that farmworkers themselves are active participants in the social responsibility efforts. Gerardo Reyes of the CIW said: "With this news, we take one giant step closer to a world where farmworkers and growers can work together in genuine partnership for an industry that we can all be proud of -- an industry that starts with fair wages and modern working conditions in the fields. When that new industry becomes a reality, we will be able to stand with our employers and proclaim that, together, we produce the best, and fairest, tomatoes in the market."Kent Shoemaker, CEO of Six L's, said: "The workers of our company are the foundation of our success. We have a long tradition of mutual respect. We look forward to building upon this foundation with this new initiative."
With Fair Food standards gaining ground by the day within Florida's tomato industry, it is now more important than ever that the retail food corporations that buy Florida tomatoes step up and support the Campaign. With every new supermarket and restaurant chain that joins the growing movement for Fair Food, wages for Florida tomato pickers on the participating farms will increase, and the purchasing power buttressing the new, more modern standards will grow. Click here to see the excellent new Supermarket Campaign video and learn how you can help farmworkers fight for Fair Food.
October 21, 2010
BIG CIW/Pacific agreement news page now up!
News of CIW's breakthrough agreement with Pacific Tomato Growers so big that
it gets its very own news page...
Coverage of last week's announcement of the CIW's agreement with Pacific Tomato Growers -- the first direct agreement with a grower in the history of the Campaign for Fair Food and a major step forward on the road toward a more modern, more humane Florida tomato industry -- got so big that it threatened to take over the front page of our humble website.
So, as a service to our readers, we have gathered all the coverage -- from the Wall St. Journal story to the editorial round-up and the exclusive CIW photo gallery report -- and put it all on one convenient page.
A story this big needed its own page, and now it has it. Check it out today!
October 11, 2010
Ready to take action now? You're in luck:
- First - Click here to send emails to the CEO's of Publix, Ahold (owner of Stop & Shop and Giant), Kroger, and Trader Joe's, demanding they work with the CIW for farm labor justice...
- Then - SAVE THE DATE! - Campaign for Fair Food announces dates for BIG spring action... or should we say actions!
By leveraging its high-volume purchasing power, the U.S. supermarket industry plays an active role in farmworker exploitation.
Publix, Ahold, Kroger and Trader Joe's all pack a very heavy punch when it comes to their market power in the produce industry. And with great power comes great responsibility -- both for the poverty and brutal working conditions from which they have profited for so many years, and for the work of reforming farm labor conditions in their supply chains that lies ahead.
With the four largest fast-food companies (McDonald's, Yum Brands, Burger King, and Subway) and three largest foodservice providers (Compass Group, Aramark, and Sodexo) having signed Fair Food agreements with the CIW, the focus now falls squarely on the $550 billion supermarket industry. And with the exception of Whole Foods, the natural food leader that signed an agreement with the CIW nearly two years ago, it's time now for the major grocery chains to step up and bring their considerable purchasing power to the plate.
If we are to end Florida's decades-old Harvest of Shame, the supermarket giants must do their part. And for that to happen, the Campaign for Fair Food needs YOU to take action.
- Send an email today to the CEO's of Publix, Ahold, Kroger, and Trader Joe's to demand they quit stalling and start working with the CIW to protect human rights in their Florida tomato supply chain.
- Then, take out your calendar and SAVE THE DATE: This coming spring, farmworkers from Immokalee and allies from across the country will be gathering not once, but twice, for farmworker justice!
- Sunday, February 27th, join us in Quincy, Massachusetts, for a protest at Ahold's U.S. headquarters. Then, following a week-long tour back down the east coast...
- Saturday, March 5th, we'll be back in Tampa, Florida, for a second major protest, this time in Publix's backyard.
- Sunday, February 27th, join us in Quincy, Massachusetts, for a protest at Ahold's U.S. headquarters. Then, following a week-long tour back down the east coast...
During the first several years of the Campaign for Fair Food, we focused our efforts on the fast-food industry. Then, last year, the campaign turned to the foodservice industry, and won agreements with the three largest companies in that sector.
This year, let's end this struggle. The supermarket giants are the only thing standing between us and a future of respect for human rights in Florida's fields, between a food industry based on farm labor exploitation and degradation today and a more modern, more humane industry tomorrow.
Let's send them a message -- loud and clear -- that it's time for the supermarket industry to join the growing movement for Fair Food.
October 6, 2010
Student/Farmworker Alliance strategy meeting in Immokalee inspires exciting plans for coming season!
Check out the great photo gallery and report
Over the course of four days last month, more than 40 members of the SFA network gathered in Immokalee and nearby LaBelle to engage in pivotal discussions, build skills to help their local organizing, and strategize about the year ahead in the CIW's national supermarket campaign.
According to the report on the SFA website, SFA is "poised more than ever to send a clear message to Publix, Kroger, Trader Joe's and Ahold that they will not be allowed to continue shelving their responsibility to eliminate the abuses that have plagued their tomato supply chains for far too long."
Click here for a glimpse into what was a very productive and inspiring weekend (and don't forget to check out the captions)!
September 29, 2010
Announced: Modern-Day Slavery Museum SOUTHEAST Tour!
Tour to visit Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee...
This October 10-28, and again from November 15-23, the Modern-Day Slavery Museum will visit historic landmarks, places of worship and educational institutions throughout the Southeastern United States in a two-part tour designed to raise awareness about the continuing problem of forced labor in Florida's fields and to offer solutions to the human rights crisis faced by farmworkers across the southeast.
With the upcoming semicentennial of Edward R. Murrow's hard-hitting documentary Harvest of Shame as a backdrop, the tour will also raise awareness about the urgent need for the supermarket giants -- companies like Publix, Kroger, and Trader Joe's -- to support the growing Campaign for Fair Food.
And be sure to contact us, at email@example.com, if you live along the tour route and would like to get involved in organizing a stop!
September 27, 2010
If only Publix executives could appreciate the simple justice behind Fair Trade coffee captured so eloquently on this label (pictured on right)...
Oh... Wait a second. That's the label from the new Publix-brand Fair Trade coffee.
It just makes sense. "Fair Trade prices help small farmers provide employees with livable wages and work conditions."
That's the fundamental principle behind the growing Fair Trade market. And it's the fundamental principle behind the Campaign for Fair Food, too.
A penny more per pound for Florida tomatoes and a rigorous code of conduct help Florida growers provide the wages and working conditions necessary to build a more modern, more humane Florida tomato industry.
Yet while Publix embraces those wholesome values -- "community, well-being, and a nicer world" -- when it comes to marketing its new Fair Trade coffee (the front label of which is pictured here on the left), the supermarket giant has stubbornly resisted joining the growing movement for Fair Food when it comes to buying Florida tomatoes.
And that's despite the fact that the workers who pick Florida tomatoes don't live thousands of miles away from Publix's Lakeland, Florida, headquarters, but in the very same communities (broadly speaking) as Publix executives.
Publix can't have it both ways. Either its claims to ethical trading principles are a hollow marketing sham, or it is time for Publix to change course on the Campaign for Fair Food and join with the CIW in improving wages and working conditions for Florida's hardest-working, worst-paid, least-protected workers.
A "nicer world" begins at home. Let's hope Publix's support of Fair Trade makes its way to our shores before too much longer. Florida farmworkers could use their support.
September 18, 2010
Above, Fair Food activists in Washington, DC, talk with shoppers outside of a local Giant supermarket during last Thanksgiving's "Stop and Drop" week of action.
Human rights group rebukes Ahold for "misleading, stalling tactics" in response to Campaign for Fair Food!
NESRI Director Cathy Albisa says Ahold, “dragging its feet on farmworker justice in its supply chain and attempting to co-opt the good name of (the CIW) to cover its tracks"...
In a scalding statement to the press released this past week, the New York-based National Economic and Social Rights Institute (NESRI), strongly rebuked supermarket giant Ahold (owner of Stop & Shop and Giant) for its refusal to join with the CIW in the growing movement to protect and advance the human rights of workers in the Florida tomato industry.
September 13, 2010
Chipotle's nagging "farmworker problem"...
Kellogg Food Fellow pens hard-hitting opinion piece in the pages of Grist!
Chipotle, the highly successful burrito king, is not like other fast-food companies. Rather than run high-price national ad campaigns on tv, Chipotle, spends a lot of time talking about the social virtues of its food -- or, what it calls, "Food with Integrity" -- in smaller, more targeted settings, like last year's screenings of "Food, Inc."
Given that Chipotle does take certain measures to ensure that its ingredients are relatively more sustainability produced than most fast-food companies, the burrito maker could reasonably lay claim to selling a more ethical product -- if its claims weren't undermined by Chipotle's "ongoing farmworker problem."
September 8, 2010
Interview with CIW member wins first round in nationwide human rights video contest!
CIW's Romeo Ramirez invited to address UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, this November as part of U.S. Human Rights Network delegation...
September 6, 2010
Lots of love on Labor Day for the Campaign for Fair Food!
On Labor Day weekend we celebrate the end of summer -- one last day at the beach, barbecue, watermelon... (mmm... watermelon...) -- and our thoughts turn to the things the autumn months bring -- kids heading back to school, fall colors and some long-awaited cooler days.
But rarely do most Americans actually think about Labor on Labor Day. Yes, Labor with a capital "L". The basis of all wealth. The thing that puts food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and roofs over our heads. The stuff we do most of our waking lives and through which we define a large part of ourselves.
Well, there are some people who still think about workers -- and in particular, workers fighting for fairer wages and working conditions -- on Labor Day, and this year, a number of them thought, and wrote, about the Campaign for Fair Food!
September 3, 2010
The image above is from an excellent video by Honolulu's KITV on the news of yesterday's indictment. You can watch the video by clicking here.
Recipe for Slavery: Take US farm labor relations, add "guestworker" visas, and voila... Forced labor!
Federal prosecutors in Honolulu unseal indictment charging forced labor ring active in 13 states including -- yet again -- Florida;
Multi-state operation involves guestworker recruiting giant Global Horizons in what prosecutors are calling "the largest human trafficking case in US history"...
Labor Day weekend will be celebrated with a little more meaning this year by 400 farmworkers from around the country whose bosses were charged yesterday by Justice Department officials in Hawaii with "conspiracy to commit human trafficking."
Six people in the US were charged in the case, including four employees of Global Horizons Manpower, Inc, a labor recruiting company that specializes in the overseas recruitment of "guestworkers," foreign workers brought to the US to work in agriculture under an H2A visa for temporary employment in agriculture. Two more people based in Thailand were also indicted in the case. This is not the first time that Global Horizons has been accused of violating farm labor protection laws.
FBI Special Agent Tom Simon described the latest case to KITV News in Hawaii, where the indictment was filed:
"It's a classic bait-and-switch what they were doing. They were telling the Thai workers one thing to lure them here. Then when they got here, their passports were taken away and they were held in forced servitude working in these farms...” read more