A report on restaurant industry trends by Food Chain Workers Alliance in collaboration with the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. This study aims to portray the primary aspects and practices of the high-road restaurant industry nationwide in relation to their supply chains, as well as to describe what it means to be a good food business, why it matters, and how policy can direct more companies to embrace these practices.
Eating Well announced the winners of the 2018 American Food Heroes Awards and our very own Joann Lo and Jose Oliva were among the 12 award recipients.
“To select the winners, EatingWell solicited nominations from top experts, advocates and readers. A panel of editors reviewed the submissions and narrowed down the finalists to those who stood out for their focus, creativity, ongoing contributions and, in particular, the achievements they had made in the past year.
Past award winners include celebrity chef and activist José Andrés; Lindsey Shute, the executive director of the National Young Farmers Coalition; Bob’s Red Mill founder Bob Moore; and Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich.”
International Food Workers Week (IFWW) is held annually close to the week of Thanksgiving to engage the public about the importance of food workers and to move people to take action in support of the workers. Events or actions around the U.S. are organized by the FCWA, member groups, and allies.
During IFWW, on November 14, we are releasing a new report No Piece of the Pie: U.S. Food Workers in 2016. This update from our original report The Hands That Feed Us in 2012 will provide the most recent data on food workers and their wages and working conditions, highlights interviews with 20 workers throughout the food system, and shares solutions to addressing the problems they face.
Organize an event or action in your city! You can submit your event info here. Stay tuned for a list of actions and events taking place that week.
We emphatically reject the violent abhorrent actions that took place in Minneapolis against peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors. We call on our elected officials to denounce these terrorists with the same vigor as the attacks in Paris last week.
As the country’s largest private sector workforce, the nation’s 20 million food workers form the backbone of the economy. Over 40% of workers in the food system are people of color. However, the food system has the lowest wages of any sector in the economy. The legacy of slavery continues to plague the food system, and our society at large. The jobs that were once slave-labor; farmworkers, pickers, servers and others are now by no coincidence the lowest paid jobs in America. Unless we leave these chains behind we will not be able to move forward and value the labor of the people who put food on our table.
On this International Food Worker Week when we give thanks for our families and the food we are blessed to share, let us not forget the workers and their families that struggle every day to put food on their tables. As food workers we give thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and our shared struggle to free us all from the legacy of slavery in our food system and in society.
*Food Chain Avengers: A Food Justice & Worker Justice Comic Book*
20 million people work in the food system in the U.S., joining millions around the world who labor on farms and in meat, poultry and food processing facilities, warehouses, grocery stores and restaurants. The food system is the largest employer in the U.S. and the majority of frontline food workers earn poverty wages. In the U.S., a third of food workers suffer from food insecurity and hunger.
The members of the Alliance decided to create a comic book focused on food workers in order to illustrate the issues facing these workers, as well as their efforts to organize to improve their workplaces, their communities, and the food system. Luis DeLeon, a restaurant worker and member of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Chicago, volunteered to write the backstory for the comic book. He created five characters, each representing one of the five main sectors of the food system, and he called them the Food Chain Avengers.
The Food Chain Avengers comic book uses examples drawn from real experiences by workers in their respective industries, the five main characters of the story walk us through each of five sectors of the food chain: production, processing, distribution, retail, and food service. The comic book exposes the exploitative nature of the industry Vis-à-vis its workers, communities, and the environment. in addition, it tells the story of struggle to victory.
Food Chain Avengers is illustrated and written by artist Jerel Dye. Jerel is an Artist, illustrator, and designer based in Massachusetts. While in high school he worked as a pizza chef. You can learn more about Jerel’s work at https://jereldye.com/blog/.
You can order copies in English and/or Spanish using the form below. You can also download a PDF of comic book in color in Spanish, English, and Chinese. We have also developed discussion guides with suggested homework assignments for middle school students (Spanish here) and high school students (Spanish here)that list the Common Core English Language Arts Standards that the comic book and discussion guides address. We also have a discussion guide for adults (Spanish here).
*Re-posted from Gawker
*By Hamilton Nolan
Retail death star Walmart has just announced that it will be giving raises to all of its low-level hourly workers this year, and setting a minimum wage of $10 an hour next year. Walmart can see which way the wind is blowing.
Walmart, the largest company in America, with a value of $270 billion and sales of half a trillion dollars per year, does not do things to be nice. Its business model, in fact, is to squeeze suppliers and workers for every last cent in order to drive down prices to their lowest possible point and sell huge volumes and drive local small businesses to bankruptcy. They are the very embodiment of ruthlessness in business.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote that the company decided to give employees raises to $9 an hour this year, and $10 an hour next year, because of corporate conscience: “We’re always trying to do the right thing and build a stronger business. We frequently get it right but sometimes we don’t. When we don’t, we adjust… When we take a step back, it’s clear to me that one of our highest priorities must be to invest more in our people this year.”
Doug McMillon is lying. It is true that the Walmart corporation and its executives are always trying to build a stronger business, but it is clearly not true that this faceless machine for selling enormous quantities of manufactured good is “always trying to do the right thing.” In fact, Walmart is so committed to holding down the wages of its workers—keeping them in poverty—that it consistently fights any attempts of employees to organize, even as the company’s ownershave grown to become some of the richest people in the world. Dozens and dozens of current and former Walmart employees have explicitly described to us how Walmart is a bad place to work. The Walmart corporation does not do things for its workers in order to help its workers, out of kindness. To the Walmart corporation, workers are tiny gears grinding in a very large global machine.
Walmart is giving raises to its workers for one simple reason: it has to. The company is smart enough to see that the ongoing protest campaign against it by its own poor employees demanding a living wage will not end. It will not end, just like the similar campaign by fast food workers will not end. Not only will the cries of low-paid workers not end; they will be heard. Walmart knows that these demands must, eventually, be met. Because they are eminently reasonable. And more to the point, because America is a nation that is starting to realize in a very public way the the economic inequality that has been choking us for three decades now is unsustainable. The Walmart corporation and its well-paid executives and fabulously wealthy owners understand this simple truth: there are many, many more people who identify with Walmart workers than there are people who identify with the richest family in America.
Walmart is giving its workers raises. It is doing so because it doesn’t have a choice. This is a good example of rising public anger accomplishing something. Just a couple of dollars an hour, for now. More, soon.
Southern California United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union locals 324, 770, 1428 and 1167 represent approximately 600 El Super workers employed at seven locations.
The unions and our El Super members called a boycott of El Super markets on December 20, 2014, in protest of El Super’s refusal to provide our members with Respect and a Fair Contract.
El Super employs low-wage and predominantly Latino workers. The workers at the Union stores were were covered under a contract with El Super that expired on September 27, 2013. For over a year the Union and the worker bargaining team have sought to bargain to improve the working conditions.
Unfortunately, rather than working cooperatively to meet their employees’ needs, El Super focused its efforts on persuading our union members to vote out their union. The company held captive audience meetings conducted by El Super CEO Carlos A. Smith, pushing a “No” vote. The workers were not fooled. On December 12, 2014 they voted – by a more than 3-1 – in favor or retaining their union, the UFCW. Indeed, more than 90 percent of the workers voted.
After the recertification vote, the union promptly sent a letter to the company asking for them to return to the bargaining table. El Super ignored and then rejected that request.
El Super’s actions, and its steadfast refusal to address the workers’ priorities such as more guaranteed hours, adequate sick leave, and fair pay, all led to the call for a consumer boycott of El Super markets on December 20, 2014
The boycott will continue until El Super workers achieve their core goal of winning respect and a fair contract. The outstanding issues include adequate paid sick leave, seniority rights, guaranteed 40-hour work weeks for full time employees, and a fair wage. The workers seek your support.
From UFCW Local 770, an FCWA member; UFCW Locals 324, 1167, & 1428; UFCW Western States Council; and UFCW International
Sign Street Vendor Projects’ Petition to Lift the Caps on Vending Permits and Licenses in NYC!
Sign the Petition HERE!
Members of the Street Vendor Project have been hard at work on an important legislative campaign to lift the caps on vendor permits and licenses. Despite attempts at making an honest living, vendors are subject to a litany of unjust regulations which make their work an incredible challenge. Since the early 1980s, an arbitrary cap has been placed on the number of available food permits and general vending licenses. This cap effectively makes street vending illegal for thousands of vendors and has led to the creation of a black market where permits (originally purchased from the City for $200) are now sold upwards of $20,000.
Lifting the caps on permits and licenses would decriminalize vending for hard-working immigrant communities, generate revenue for the City, and put an end to this illegal black market.
Join the Street Vendor Project, Urban Justice Center, Council Members, customers, and many other worker and immigrant rights organizations to support this bill by signing this petition!
The Farmworker Association of Florida
* By Bob Maschi, FCWA Volunteer
“Can you imagine rising before the sun, enduring long hours of physical labor, surrounded by the extreme Florida heat and humidity, as well as constant exposure to pesticides? And after giving your full, physical self you still earn deplorable wages and live in impoverished conditions?” – Tirso Moreno, General Coordinator of The Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF), from the video: Sowing the Seeds of Justice
The Farmworker Association of Florida was formed in 1983 and expanded statewide in 1992. They now have over 10,000 member families and five offices in the state of Florida, including in Apopka (main office), Fellsmere, Homestead, Immokalee and Pierson. Their membership includes Hispanic, Haitian and African American farmworkers in over 15 counties statewide. Their long-standing mission is to build power among farmworkers and low-income rural communities to respond to and gain control over the social, political, workplace, economic, health, and environmental justice issues that impact their lives.
The organization’s philosophy rests in challenging the current agricultural system that keeps farmworkers and the rural poor in poverty, vulnerable to exploitation, oftentimes victims of intimidation and mistreatment, and subject to unsafe working and living conditions. FWAF harnesses the collective power of their ethnically diverse farmworker membership in order to build strong communities to create a unified force in which farmworkers can advocate on their own behalf for better laws, policies, regulations and systems for themselves, their families and for future generations of farmworkers.
The organization’s aggressive advocacy promoting fair and just conditions and justice for farmworkers and immigrants has resulted in many statewide and national victories. Over the years, FWAF has organized tens of thousands of farmworkers and supporters to participate in rallies and protests for social justice, including organizing some of the largest immigrants’ rights demonstrations in the state in 2006.
Through this work, FWAF has been successful in securing improved health and safety regulations for all Florida farmworkers related to transportation, field sanitation, and pesticide exposure. Many of the organization’s efforts involve the underreported dangers of farmworkers’ contact with dangerous chemicals, including pesticides. FWAF helped push through a state Right-to-Know law in 1995 and again in 2005 and conducts ongoing health and safety trainings for health care providers, and for farmworkers
The organization’s advocacy work also means that farmworkers in Florida are covered under Workers Compensation and minimum wage laws. FWAF has secured improvements in wages and working conditions for farmworkers in over 60 Florida companies, ran a citrus workers co-op for close to ten years, and created economic development projects in their communities. The FWAF has taken on an international profile with active participation in the National People of Color and Indigenous People Environmental Leadership Summits, the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, two World Social Forums and the Southeast Social Forum. FWAF is currently a member of the international organizations La Via Campesina (LVC) and the Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI). In addition, FWAF works in coalition with other groups in the U.S., including the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the Domestic Fair Trade Association, the Agricultural Justice Project, and the Rural Coalition, among others.
Farmworkers feed the world! Yet, big agribusiness gets a break on their taxes, while farmworkers break their backs working in the fields. They perform the hardest and most dangerous work, often face racism, detention and deportation. All that for pay that can barely provide for a subsistence standard of living.