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Ways to Help Immigrant Workers Detained in Mississippi

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Here are ways to support the 680 immigrant food workers who were detained in the ICE raids in Mississippi on August 7.

  1. Donate to the UFCW Local 1529 Strike and Emergency Fund. The union represents workers at 2 of the plants where the ICE raids took place. The local’s fund is providing workers with financial support to pay for rent, food, and other basic needs. Send a check to UFCW Local 1529 Strike and Emergency Fund, Memo: MS Raids, UFCW Local 1529, 8205 Macon Road, Cordova, TN 38018. 
  2. Volunteer your time and skills. The Southeast Immigrant Rights Network is coordinating solidarity on the ground in Mississippi.They’re looking for people and groups to volunteer in various ways, including from afar, especially if you speak Spanish or indigenous languages, as well as people who can travel to Mississippi. Click here to fill out the form letting them know how you can help.
  3. Provide legal assistance. If you’re an attorney and may be able to help, the Mississippi Center for Justice wants to hear from you. Click here to fill out their form.
  4. Join a local immigrant rights group / support a local immigrant workers center in your area and participate in local protests against ICE.

Support Grocery Workers – One job should be enough

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Support grocery workers, not Wall Street
Corporate grocery stores are making record profits but refuse to provide workers enough pay or hours to support themselves or their families. Sign this petition to support grocery workers!

Nobody should work 2 or 3 jobs and not be able to afford housing, food, and basic healthcare. Especially when the CEO of Ralphs-Kroger Co. makes 547 times what the average worker earns in a year. As shoppers, let’s join together with workers to fight for what’s fair.

FCWA Statement on Farmworkers bill in NY State

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New York farmworkers won important new legal rights this week after a decades-long fight against their exclusion from basic labor laws. The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act extends collective bargaining rights to farm workers, including card check certification, and improves access to overtime, a guaranteed day of rest, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. California and Washington are the only other two states who protect farmworkers’ right to organize and collectively bargain. This is a significant win for New York State farmworkers, and we want to congratulate all those who fought for these rights over the past two decades. 

However, the final version of the act is weakened by certain provisions and exclusions including banning strikes, work stoppages, or slowdowns, and even refers to strikes, stoppages and slowdowns as “unfair labor practices”, that could be punishable under New York labor law. 

As an alliance that represents close to 400,000 food workers throughout the food economy, we know that much of the power that workers have lies in the right to strike. This fundamental right levels the playing field for workers, especially in workplaces with enormous power imbalances like farms. 

We are highly concerned that banning the strike and deeming strike activity as ‘unfair labor practice’ will set a legislative precedent for other states and other industries to strip workers of this indispensable right. Furthermore, we see inherent racism in prohibiting farmworkers, the majority of whom are workers of color, from striking, when the majority of private sector workers enjoy this right. Farmworkers need the ability to organize on their farms in the way they choose without fear of retaliation, and the legislation should be strengthened to include those protections. 

We also see the decision to set a different overtime threshold for farm workers as inherently unequal. Farmworkers are expected to exceed 60 hours before being given overtime pay as opposed to the long established 40 hours. Additionally, the amended bill ends employer contributions for unemployment insurance for guestworkers, a step backwards in ensuring equal protection for guestworkers in New York State. 

We hope that this bill sets the stage to achieve full rights and protections for all farmworkers and can be expanded and strengthened in the near future. 

We are proud to stand with our farmworker members and their allies who have been organizing on their farms and in their communities for dignity on the job and equal rights and protections. We hope the new tools this bill provides will strengthen and multiply those fights.
We believe that in order to end gender-based violence it is essential to empower women and to guarantee their rights and bring about their emancipation. This is why the women and men of La Via Campesina, in a single expression of struggle and liberation, are saying today: For the life and dignity of women, we fight together against exploitation and oppression!
Check out this video about LaViaCampesina!Click Here!

Happy International Women’s Day from the Farmworker Association of Florida! 

It’s International Migrants Day!

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Solidarity with immigrants is a core value of the FCWA. As such, our members asked how could we collectively support the caravan of Central American migrants who are seeking asylum in the United States but are stuck in Mexico as the Trump administration refuses to process their asylum applications in a timely manner.

We partnered with DREAM Team LA to collect donations and organize a delegation to deliver supplies to the migrants waiting across the border. Each of our organizations contributed funds, and we also fundraised from supporters and member groups. With over $700, we bought new t-shirts and toiletries and created 100 care packages. We also collected donations of used clothing, toys, books, and shoes from community members in Los Angeles.

On December 9, 2018, our delegation drove down to the border. Our Co-Director Joann Lo, her two children, and our intern Kayla Jaspeado took a van full of donations to a migrant camp that had been rained out of Benito Juarez park in Tijuana–their tents displaced from the park onto the street. Even under difficult conditions, the people in this camp are doing what they can to collaborate as a community. They cook together and work together to keep the camp clean and safe.

Thank you to everyone who donated money or clothes and other items for the migrants!We especially thank our Communications Associate Jose Lopez for taking the lead on our behalf to organize the collection of donations and putting together the care packages.

We are organizing another delivery of food on December 26. If you would like to donate to help us buy food for the migrants, click here. Thank you!

UFCW Local 770 and Overhil Farms Workers

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Currently our member organization, United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 770, has an active campaign at Overhill Farms. This fight began in 2009 when Overhill Farms unjustly fired 254 workers claiming “irregularities with their documentation,” and almost 10 years later the fight continues as Overhill Farms continues to deny workers the respect and dignity they deserve. Overhill Farms Workers continue to stand strong and united, fighting for a fair union contract with the support of UFCW Local 770, despite the company’s countless attempts to intimidate them.UFCW 770’s Bargaining Committee Members have been negotiating with Overhill Farms on behalf of 400 packinghouse employees working at two plants in Vernon, California. Unfortunately, Overhill Farms has failed to agree to a fair union contract for Overhill Farms workers which we know means livable wages, affordable health care, respect, and dignity on the job.

After receiving yet another bad contract proposal, UFCW Overhill farm workers have voted to authorize a strike. Stand in solidarity with the 400 Overhill Farms’ Union Employees strike and stand up to Overhill Farms! Get the latest updates and find how you can plug in or support the Overhill Farm Workers’ Campaign by following their Facebook page @OverhillFarmsWorkers.

Congratulations to this year’s James Beard Foundation Leadership Award honorees!

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It seems only yesterday when our Co-Directors, Joann Lo and Jose Oliva, had the honor of receiving the 2017 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award. We were delighted to hear that Ramon Torres, the President of one of our member organizations, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, and Dara Cooper from theNational Black Food & Justice Alliance, a co-founder of the HEAL Food Alliancewith us, were selected to be two of 2018 James Beard Foundation Award recipients! Jose and Joann nominated both of them for this year’s award!

We are fortunate to have such wonderful, hardworking members and allies and overjoyed to see their hard work be recognized. Let’s celebrate with Ramon, Dara, and the thousands of workers and farmers in the food sector who are benefiting from their great work!And congratulations to all the James Beard Foundation recipients! They include Ferd Hoefner, Senior Strategic Advisor, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Doug Rauch, President/Founder, Daily Table; and Shirley Sherrod, Executive Director, Southwest Georgia Project.

Another Victory for Food Workers and Their Families

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The Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) has delivered a series of positive impacts to LA County’s food system.  Chief among them are wins for local food workers.  

Teamsters have leveraged GFPP’s adoption by the LA Unified School District in various ways including calling out and blocking union-busting tactics by Gold Star, a local distributor in the district’s supply chain.  Over 150 drivers voted in favor of union representation by the Teamsters a few years ago after employees were free to engage in workplace organizing without fear of retaliation–a requirement of participating in GFPP.  We’re now celebrating warehouse workers at Gold Star winning a union contract last month–totaling nearly 400 employees who now have higher wages, better health benefits, and stronger workplace protections.  Big congrats to the Teamsters Local 63 and Joint Council 42–it’s a testament to their talented organizing and ability to use GFPP as tool for securing increased protections and higher wages for food workers!

And GFPP continues to the expand beyond LA. On the heels of last year’s adoption by the Chicago Public Schools (June), Chicago Parks Department (September), and the City of Chicago (October) comes interest from Cook County to do the same. The county seat of Chicago is in the midst of drafting a policy that would leverage GFPP to incentivize contracts for producers of color and women-owned food businesses as well as businesses that hire from local low-income communities.

Making History with H.E.A.L

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Making History with HEAL

The ambitious work of the HEAL (Health Environment Agriculture and Labor) Food Alliance is taking flight. HEAL’s mission is to build our collective power to create food and farm systems that are healthy for our families, accessible and affordable for all communities, and fair to the hard-working people who grow, distribute, prepare, and serve our food — while protecting the air, water, and land we all depend on. The broad-based, multi-sector, and multi-racial coalition was launched by Food Chain Workers Alliance together with Real Food ChallengeUnion of Concerned Scientists, and the National Black Food & Justice Alliance. We held our second annual summit in Cleveland, Ohio this past March 9-12.  

The summit was historic in many ways. We gathered over 150 people from all over the US to commit together to work towards a food system that prioritizes people and planet over profits.  We committed to continue to build a new generation of political leaders that can run for office and win using the Real Food Platform as a fundamental pledge to their communities and to the US. We also committed to continue to build HEAL as a base run by people of color and with the agenda of prioritizing frontline communities first and foremost. We committed to work together with local partners to win Good Food Purchasing Policies in many new cities. HEAL is now poised to take a major leap into a mass movement toward a just and fair food system!

Food Chain Workers Alliance and the HEAL Food Alliance  Declare Solidarity with the 2018 U.S. Prison Strike

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Yesterday, prisoners across the United States launched a nation-wide strike demanding an end to prison slavery, poor living conditions, and death by incarceration. The strike began on the death anniversary of George Jackson, a former Black Panther and a leading voice of the 1970s prison movement, and is expected to last for 19 days, ending on the anniversary of the Attica prison uprising.

The strike was called in response to the death of seven incarcerated individuals and a prison-wide lockdown resulting from inhumane living conditions at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina in April.

In a statement made by members of the organizing group Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, ten demands were listed, including a call to end compulsory labor for meager wages, a widespread practice in the U.S. prison system that strike organizers call a modern form of slavery. The call demands “An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.”

Over 30,000 incarcerated people work in farming or food-related positions, many making less than a dollar a day, often under difficult labor conditions. In some cases, these incarcerated workers are producing or preparing food for consumption in their prison facility, and in others, they are harvesting produce or manufacturing value-added products for profit-driven corporations. These practices are rampant across the prison system, in public and private prisons, including immigrant detention centers, and is a legacy of the U.S. slave economy.  

We are united in solidarity with incarcerated people  who are courageously engaging in work stoppages and hunger strikes. We support the full  demands of the prisoners (listed below) and call on our allies in labor, farming, and food justice to do the same. Write a statement of solidarity, a letter to the editor, join a solidarity action, or tweet your support today. Reach out to Suzanne@foodchainworkers.org or neshani@healfoodalliance.org if you need support crafting or amplifying your statement.

Tweet your support today.

#PrisonStrike


Full List of Demands:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and -parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.
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