CIW speaks at conference on slavery in Vienna, Austria!

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) organizes special conference "on trafficking for labour exploitation focusing on the agricultural sector," invites CIW to share experience…

The CIW’s Anti-Slavery Campaign coordinator, Laura Germino (pictured below, left), traveled last week to Vienna, Austria, to talk about the CIW’s work combating slavery here in the fields of Florida and how lessons learned in the course of our experience might aid the OSCE’s member states in their own battle with the growing problem of agricultural slavery.

Here’s an excerpt from the CIW’s presentation, delivered to an audience (above) comprised mainly of policy makers and representatives of government authorities:

"… When the CIW began in the early 1990s, we did not set out to be an anti-slavery organization – it was formed as a labor and human rights organization, fighting for better wages and dignity for farmworkers. But in the course of our work, we came across first one forced labor case, then another, then another, and it became clear that the initial cases were not anomalies, but rather that an all-too significant percentage of the overall farm workforce is being held against their will. So today, we have an Anti-Slavery Campaign focusing on investigation, training, and prevention as part of our organization’s overall mission…

… We now have a network of members who work across the Southeast who can report suspected instances of peers being held against their will, because the community as a whole has been educated on the issue. We have staff and members who conduct labor rights outreach at worker housing, through house-to-house visits up north, as well as community radio programs and weekly meetings in our home base. This anti-slavery education takes place within a broader framework of overall labor and human rights campaigns. If a degraded labor environment does tip over into actual slavery – and I’ll discuss in a minute the difference – peers of the captive workers will recognize it and will also understand that something can be done about it…"

Check back soon for a complete text of the CIW’s presentation!