“A powerful voice for dignified wages and working conditions in the fields of Florida…”

CIW staff Lupe Gonzalo honored as mother, community leader!

Mother’s Day is typically celebrated with flowers, cards, and calls home to mom. But the folks at the National Council of Churches’s Poverty Initiative have their own way of celebrating mothers, with a special focus on “lifting up, celebrating, and praying for mothers who are fighting poverty and alleviating suffering in their communities.”

Much to our delight (though not our surprise!), one of the mothers and leaders they highlighted was CIW staff member, Lupe Gonzalo. You may remember Lupe from the moving videos shot on International Women’s Day during the March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food. Here’s one of those videos, to give you a sense of just why Lupe caught the NCC’s eye this Mother’s Day:

The NCC’s post explaining their selection was particularly eloquent. Here’s an excerpt:

Prayer for Lupe: Dios, gracias for expressing your love through Lupe to farmworkers. Thank you for filling her heart with solidarity and love of her fellow workers. When times get tough, fill her with your grace and courage. Bless and strengthen her family and her work for Fair Food. In good times and bad, let her life overflow with the deepest joy that only You can give. Amen.

One of the farmworker leaders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Lupe is a powerful voice for dignified wages and working conditions in the fields of Florida. Originally from Guatemala, Lupe spent over a decade in Immokalee, FL harvesting vegetables, often under some of the harshest conditions.

Today, because of the tireless work of mothers and workers like Lupe, we are witnessing a transformation of human rights the US agricultural industry, as a twenty-year struggle gives birth to the Fair Food Program, a unique partnership between workers, growers and corporate buyers. Just last month, the Fair Food Program was lifted up by the White House as “one of the most successful and innovative programs” in the fight to uncover — and prevent — modern day slavery.

These days, when not caring for her family, Lupe works full time educating other workers on their newly won rights, chief among them the right to work free of sexual harassment.

While the struggle continues with intransigent corporate buyers like Publix and Wendy’s, we give thanks for the remarkable leadership and strength of such mothers and luchadoras (fighters), knowing that so long as they’re leading, the historic shift underway in Florida will only continue to grow. read more

We thank our friends at the NCC Poverty Initiative for their recognition of the incredible leadership of mothers in Immokalee, and say again — Happy Mother’s Day, Lupe!

A mother’s work is never done…

This very weekend, with the Mother’s Day letter penned last week in hand, Lupe and other members of the CIW Women’s Group are headed to Wendy’s to continue the fight for Fair Food.

The Women’s Group action comes as part of a national mobilization this weekend. The heart of the action will take place Saturday in the Big Apple, with the huge March on Wendy’s in New York. The march will feature a theater piece, including a larger-than-life, red-headed puppet and some classic CIW theater action with workers from Immokalee making the trek north to join Fair Food allies for the production. If you’re in the Northeast, it’s not a day you want to miss — make sure to check out the event page for details!

The Wendy’s campaign is so hot right now, it even got a special shoutout from the widely-read food writer and opinion columnist at the New York Times, Mark Bittman, who helped spread the word by tweeting the Wendy’s SumOfUs.org’s e-action!

Don’t miss all the action this weekend, and check back next week for photos and first-hand reports.