NEW YORK, NY – The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ), a leading civil rights and public interest legal organization, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a pioneering worker-based human rights organization, are excited to announce a trailblazing new partnership.
CIW Associate General Counsel Nick Wertsch will join NCLEJ and will also serve as Staff Attorney to other worker and human rights organizations in their efforts to adopt the Presidential Medal-winning WSR model. Under this innovative partnership between a nonprofit public interest legal organization and a worker-driven human rights organization, NCLEJ and CIW will use their collective legal, advocacy, and organizing experience to build and expand the groundbreaking model, widely-recognized as the gold standard for human rights protections in modern global supply chains today.
CIW pioneered the WSR model with the launch of the Fair Food Program (FFP) in 2011 in Florida’s tomato fields, transforming an industry once dubbed “ground zero for modern-day slavery” by federal prosecutors into what one expert called “the best working environment in American agriculture” just three years after its inception. Workers and their rights are at the center of the WSR model, which leverages the purchasing power of the global corporations at the top of the supply chain to compel suppliers to adhere to human rights standards, and empowers workers to serve as frontline monitors of their own rights in the workplace.
Dennis Parker, NCLEJ Executive Director: “The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a truly inspirational worker-driven organization. Combined with our more than 50 years of legal expertise and experience, we hope that this dynamic partnership can serve as an innovative model for worker advocacy across the country. We’re incredibly excited to work with the CIW to fight for humane wages and conditions for workers.”
Lucas Benitez, Co-founder, Coalition of Immokalee Workers: “We’re honored to join forces with the National Center for Law and Economic Justice to fuel the expansion of Worker-driven Social Responsibility and share its life-changing human rights protections with workers across the country. We know firsthand how powerful this model can be for uprooting long-standing abuses, from sexual harassment and assault to wage theft and even forced labor. This new partnership will make it possible to extend WSR’s groundbreaking protections to many more communities like ours that have struggled to win respect for their fundamental human rights for far too long.”
The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) is a legal nonprofit organization that advances racial and economic justice for low-income families, individuals, and communities across the country through ground-breaking impact litigation, policy advocacy, and support for grassroots organizing. Founded in 1965, NCLEJ fights to protect access to critical benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, and childcare, protect low-wage workers’ rights and safety, advocates for the rights of people with disabilities, and fights unlawful debt collection.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in fighting human trafficking and gender-based violence at work. The CIW is also recognized for pioneering the design and development of the Worker-driven Social Responsibility paradigm, a worker-led, market-enforced approach to the protection of human rights in corporate supply chains. Built on a foundation of farmworker community organizing starting in 1993, and reinforced with the creation of a national consumer network since 2000, CIW’s work has steadily grown over more than twenty years to encompass three broad and overlapping spheres: the Fair Food Program, the Anti-Slavery Campaign, and the Campaign for Fair Food.