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Last month, the Food Chain Workers Alliance Farmworker Committee convened in New York City to host a Bi-National People’s Tribunal on the Struggles of Farmworkers in North America.

Over two days at The People’s Forum, dozens of farmworkers in the U.S. and Canada gave video and in-person testimony, with probing commentary and questions from jurors Max Ajl (University of Tunis/MECAM), Jaribu Hill (Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights), Chaumtoli Huq (Law@Margins), Raj Patel (University of Texas at Austin) and Rob Robinson (Partners for Dignity and Rights). All worker testimonies are available to watch on the FCWA YouTube channel, with English or Spanish interpretation. If you don’t have time to watch all 5.5 hours of testimony right now, here are initial key takeaways:

Employers and farm owners show complete disregard for workers' well-being and health.

Employers and farm owners thwart worker organizing efforts by pitting workers against each other, retaliating against workers who complain, and with verbal and physical abuse.

Farmworkers are experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis now. The U.S. and Canada are not only failing to create new and necessary protections, but in some cases passing laws to prevent those protections.

The agricultural industry has benefited from the U.S. and Canadian immigration systems for decades, by way of exploitative guest worker programs and the threat of immigration enforcement to prevent worker organizing.

The tribunal also underscored that farmworkers are organizing for a better future. At our opening Workers’ Assembly, participants envisioned the better world we’re working toward, speaking not only about freedom of movement, free healthcare, higher wages and overtime pay; but also broad implementation of agroecology, more co-op models, a master bargaining agreement across the food chain, a welcoming environment for all immigrants, and one day, no bosses.

We closed out the weekend in lower Manhattan’s Foley Square. This historic area is not only steps away from a Colonial-era burial site of free and enslaved Africans, reminding us of our food system’s origins in the slave economy, but also surrounded by the very institutions (DHS, ICE, DOL, US federal courts) that maintain an extractive and exploitative labor economy today. Worker leaders Claudia Rosales, Luis Jiménez, Gabriel Allahduah, and juror Jaribu Hill spoke about themes that were raised in testimonials and charged each other and the broader public to continue fighting for farmworker justice.

The FCWA Farmworker Committee is a group of 10 worker-based and 2 ally groups that are carving a new path for alternative, grassroots organizing for farmworkers. Findings from the tribunal will help determine our collective strategies for both short and long-term goals along that path.

THANK YOU to everyone who made this possible: first and foremost every farmworker who provided their time and testimony, our jury panel, The People’s Forum, FCWA staff, everyone who donated and showed up to this event online and in-person, and of course, to the visionary members of our Farmworker Committee:

Alianza Agrícola

California Institute for Rural Studies 

Comité de apoyo a los trabajadores agrícolas (CATA)

Community to Community Development

Farmworker Association of Florida

Familias Unidas por la Justicia

Justice for Migrant Workers

Migrant Justice

Pioneer Valley Workers Center

Rural & Migrant Ministry

Worker Justice Center of New York

Workers’ Center of Central New York

Stay tuned for our full tribunal report later this year, and help us continue convening workers and facilitating worker-led organizing and honor May Day by making a donation to support FCWA today!