“I came here to work and I’m going to work. Now the fear is gone.”
-- Julia de la Cruz, Farmworker
15% of the 40,000 workers covered by the Fair Food Program
Estimated girls & women affected
Workers, their families, accounting for high turnover in industry
Estimated community members affected
There have been several noteworthy accomplishments for the Fair Food Program during this past tomato season.
Most notably, in January 2015 at the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry presented CIW with the prestigious award, noting, “This is an extraordinary accomplishment, and reminds all of us not just of the work that we have to do, but that dedicated individuals, like those here with us today from the Coalition, can strike out against injustice, break down barriers, and make a world of difference.”
Of course, the day-to-day task of enforcing the Fair Food Code of Conduct for 30,000 workers across the Florida tomato industry still very much remains at the very core of our work. This has resulted in the elimination of forced labor and sexual assault at FFP farms and the vast reduction of more common abuses from sexual harassment to wage theft. Furthermore, nearly $20 million in premiums paid by corporate buyers to improve farmworker womens’ wages.Another major development is that FFP expansion, both out-of-state in tomatoes and into a new Florida crop, is now underway. In the summer of 2015, the worker education, audit and complaint protocols were extended to Florida-based Participating Growers’ operations in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. All told, eight FFSC auditors will spend approximately 30 days on the road between June and October conducting audits at these farms
Farmworker Julia de la Cruz: “I came here to work and I’m going to work… Now the fear is gone.” Another male worker in New Jersey (during summer expansion) reported that a four to five years ago, other members in the crew would make fun of him for speaking Mixteco bajo. However, he stated this doesn't happen anymore, especially after the FFP started doing education sessions at farms, he feel that there is more respect.”
Risks and challenges
The CIW’s principal challenge stems from our rapid success in recent years: the need to obtain additional funding in order to consolidate the FFP within Florida, continue the process of expansion, and respond to requests to replicate the Worker-driven Social Responsibility model beyond agriculture, and beyond the U.S. In light of the expiration of multiple general support and FFP-specific grants in 2014 as well as the growing need for additional personnel, the CIW continues to face an urgent need for additional funding in order to protect and expand the gains being achieved through the Fair Food Program. The CIW and FFSC are continuing to explore all possible funding leads.
What we’ve learned
While fourteen food industry leaders have joined the FFP, and are supporting the reforms underway with their market influence, many other corporate buyers of Florida tomatoes have not yet joined. Not only are these non-participating buyers continuing to exert downward pressure on farmworker wages through their traditional volume purchasing practices and refusing to shoulder their portion of the costs of safeguarding human rights in their supply chain, but they also represent a “low bar” market for growers who are unwilling to meet the high standards and rigorous enforcement of the Fair Food Program.
The CIW is eradicating forced labor, sexual violence, and other abuses in US agriculture. In the last four years, we have seen the Florida tomato industry evolve from the “most regressive” to the “most progressive”. Now, the FFP is scaling up to seven states, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, and two crops, tomatoes, bell peppers, and possibly a third crop. In short, the FFP is scaling up in U.S. agriculture in both degree and kind. The sky is the ceiling for the potential of the Fair Food Program -- now we just need the resources to make it happen.
All $25,000 was used to fund part of the salary of a human rights investigator at the Fair Food Standards Council.
Amount spent so far
Salary of FFSC Investigator
Led by the women and men who have worked in the fields, the CIW’s Fair Food Program has established a new, scalable human rights framework, the Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) model, premised on risk prevention, supply chain transparency, and the verifiable, market-enforced protection of workers’ rights. We are hoping to also expand the WSR model to new industries -- as well as expanding the Fair Food Program itself -- in the year ahead.
The Ft. Myers News-Press on the Presidential Medal: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/local/amy-williams/2015/01/30/coalition-immokalee-workers-gets-presidential-medal/22623915/ Author Barry Estabrook on our recent groundbreaking agreement with Ahold USA, the first major U.S. grocer to join the FFP: http://civileats.com/2015/07/29/major-supermarket-chain-behind-giant-food-stop-n-shop-agrees-to-sign-on-to-fair-labor-program-for-tomato-workers/
"Our dignity is being restored through this program": Eliminating sexual harassment in the fields
Over the past season, the Fair Food Program has made incredible strides towards improving the lives of women in the fields, as illustrated by the disappearance of sexual assault cases and the acceptance of responsibility by Participating Growers for the prevention of hostile work environments. The Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC) -- which now has a brand new staff member, thanks to Catapult supporters! -- has interviewed 7,500 workers over the course of 100 comprehensive audits since the inception of the Program in 2011. Recognizing this incredible progress, President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored CIW with the Global Citizen Award. At the award ceremony, President Clinton singled out the Fair Food Program as “the most astonishing thing politically in the world we’re living in today.” As CIW noted in its acceptance of the 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award, “In four years, we’ve traveled the road from prosecution to prevention.”
Risks and challenges
While the Fair Food Program has made considerable progress in the three years since it began to be implemented across the Florida tomato industry – both in terms of concrete change in the fields and program development – much work remains to be done. While 12 food industry leaders have joined the FFP and are supporting the reforms underway with their funds and market influence, including retail leader Walmart, other corporate buyers of Florida tomatoes have not yet joined. These non-participating buyers represent a “low bar” market for growers who are unwilling to work with farmworkers to eliminate sexual harassment from the farms.
Under the Fair Food Program, sexual harassment is not only addressed, but prevented. During an FFSC audit, a Participating Grower spoke to auditors about the company’s expectations that supervisors will take preventive measures to maintain a safe and dignified work environment. Company management told FFSC, “If crewleaders don’t assist in prevention, then they are part of the problem.”
In addition to its regular implementation this season, the Fair Food Program will be the host site for an innovative curriculum on sexual harassment prevention, specifically designed to address abuses suffered by workers in agriculture.
$25,000 for the salary of a new auditor. The new auditor for the 2014-2015 season has been hired!
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Check out the brand new Fair Food Program website: FairFoodProgram.org
Help us eliminate longstanding abuses in agricultural work such as sexual harassment and forced labor.
Why we care: Female farmworkers face verbal abuse and sexual violence from supervisors and coworkers. A 2010 study among farmworker women found that 80% had experienced sexual harassment at work.
How we’re solving this: By hiring an additional Investigator/Monitor for the Fair Food Standards Council, the organization that uncovers abuses and enforces the Fair Food Program standards at participating farms.
Under the Fair Food Program, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers conducts worker-to-worker education to inform all workers about their rights. The Fair Food Standards Council, then, is responsible for auditing farms, conducting onsite interviews with workers and supervisors, and operating a 24-hour, toll-free complaint hotline.
The Fair Food Program includes an enforceable zero tolerance policy for sexual violence, and the wall-to-wall monitoring program allows for abuses to be identified and promptly addressed. An additional Investigator/Monitor for the Fair Food Standards Council will meet the rising need for expanding the Program to new farms, new crops, and new states.
“When we arrive home at the end of the day, we can hug our children happily, knowing that we didn’t have to sell our dignity in the fields.” – Lupe G.
Female farmworkers face a constant barrage of verbal abuse and sexual violence from supervisors and co-workers. Sexual harassment experienced by farmworkers in the US is so common that some farmworker women see abuse as an unavoidable condition of agricultural work - “You allow it or they fire you.”
The Fair Food Program has been recognized as “the best workplace monitoring program” in the US and the leading sexual violence prevention program in the agricultural industry. We’re creating new structures of accountability that are not only making human rights real in the fields, but providing new hope for working women in low-wage jobs across the globe.
With the support of the 12 multi-billion dollar retail food corporations that have signed Fair Food agreements with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers - a commitment to only purchase from growers in good standing with the Program - women working in the Florida’s tomato fields have new hope and a new weapon in the fight against harassment.
The Fair Food Program will soon expand beyond the Florida tomato industry. It is imperative that there are sufficient resources to enable the parallel growth of the rigorous monitoring efforts at the heart of our program.
With your support, the Fair Food Program will continue to uncover these abuses and work towards prevention.