A donation today helps workers build the future. Here’s how…

As the clock winds down on a tumultuous 2022, we here at the CIW are nearing the end of our year-end campaign to raise $100,000 dollars to support our crucial work in the pivotal year ahead.  And to give you a clear idea of where your gift will go and whom it will help, we want to take a moment today to highlight the work of several allied organizations that have adopted the Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) model in their own industries, a model born in the fields of Immokalee over a decade ago with the launch of the CIW’s Fair Food Program, thanks in large part to the generous gifts of conscious consumers like you.

Over the past several years, the WSR model has been widely recognized as “the new gold standard” for protecting fundamental human rights in global supply chains, and has been adapted by workers to a variety of industries across the world, from the iconic dairy industry in Vermont to the massive garment industry in Bangladesh.  CIW staff — drawing on more than a decade of hard-earned experience gained through the development, implementation, and expansion of the Fair Food Program — have closely advised these new programs at every stage of their development. Previous donations have helped CIW staff travel around the country and across the world to provide much-needed insight and technical support to these allied organizations as they go about the hard and complex work of building a WSR program from scratch — from drafting an industry-specific code of conduct, informed by workers’ experience on the job, to building a complaint investigation and resolution process that leverages billion-dollar brands’ purchasing power to remedy long-standing human rights abuses and change countless workers’ lives.

Donating to the CIW today helps workers become frontline defenders of their own rights in an ever-growing number of global industries tomorrow.

Here are a few of the organizations that have partnered with CIW to adapt the WSR model.

Migrant Justice – Milk with Dignity

Migrant Justice is a farmworker organization based in Vermont’s dairy industry that came together in 2009 following the death of a dairy worker in a tragic and brutal work accident.  Migrant Justice describes its decision to build the Milk with Dignity Program, based on the Fair Food Program and the WSR model, on the organization’s website:

After years of ‘putting out fires’ in defense of Vermont dairy worker’s rights on a farm by farm basis, Vermont farmworker members of Migrant Justice decided it was time for a systemic solution with the capacity to drive industry wide change… therefore, workers began a process to adapt the core concepts of their Fair Food Program to the VT dairy context resulting in a deep dive into the power of the Worker-Driven Social Responsibility (WSR) model. The development and design of the Milk with Dignity Program was done with strategic support and collaboration from both the CIW [and] the Fair Food Standards Council…”

Over the past several years, the Milk with Dignity Program has secured vital pay increases and won real, concrete improvements in working and living conditions on dozens of farms, with more on the way.

CTUL – Building Dignity and Respect

Centro De Trabajadores Unidos En La Lucha (CTUL) is a community-based organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota, championing the cause of low-wage and immigrant workers. CTUL is currently focused on adapting the WSR model for construction workers in the Twin Cities.  Their Building Dignity and Respect Program, inspired and informed by the Fair Food Program, promises a future of justice in a dangerous and all too often exploitative industry.

In CTUL’s own words:

About a quarter of workers who came through our doors worked in the non-union construction industry. After years of witnessing severe exploitation and rampant wage theft in the industry, CTUL began a construction worker committee where non-union construction workers bring their voice, experience, and leadership to improve conditions and win back stolen wages…  Now, through strong partnerships with the Building Trades Unions, and the voice, experience and leadership of CTUL’s construction worker members, we are building a more equitable industry together. The Building Dignity and Respect Program (BDR) will build upon the remarkable success of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to create a Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) Program in construction.”

In June 2022, CTUL marched on Minneapolis to demand that the city’s large developers join their WSR program, and CIW was there to support them.

“We are with you,” said Nely Rodriguez, a staff member of CIW, during the March for Dignity and Respect held by CTUL. “Any work in any type of industry, construction, dairy, poultry, you name it, we all speak one language. It is the language of struggle to continue seeking justice for all workers.”

The UK Fishing Industry 

One of the most recent adaptations of the WSR model is taking place today in the UK fishing industry. Propelled by a collaboration among the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, and the Fair Food Program, the initiative aims to address longstanding labor abuses through a pilot program dubbed the “Fair Fish Program”:

“Human trafficking, forced labor, and other widespread human rights violations impacting migrant fishers working in the UK have been documented by the ITF and many others for years,” said Chris Williams, ITF Fisheries Section expert. “This partnership is another positive step in holding employers, the seafood supply chain, and the UK government to account to end the exploitation of migrant labor on UK flagged fishing vessels.

All of these programs can trace their roots to Immokalee, Florida, and to the CIW’s Fair Food Program. Indeed, these crucial human rights initiatives would not have been possible without the generous support of allies like you, whose donations have sustained the CIW’s groundbreaking work for the past 30 years. 

There is no more important work in the world of business and human rights today than the continued expansion of the WSR model to tens of thousands more vulnerable workers in corporate supply chains around the globe.  Your donation will help make that work possible. 

Click here to donate to CIW today.