A worker-based human rights organization that is dedicated to helping migrant farmworkers, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) was recently named in a special issue of Time Magazine’s “People and Groups Fighting for a More Equal America”. Recognized for their Fair Food Program’s fight against long-standing labor abuses, CIW cofounders Laura Germino, Lucas Benitez, and Greg Asbed, work tirelessly. Along with their Fair Food Program, they’ve also implemented an Anti-Slavery Campaign, and a Campaign for Fair Food with the goal of combatting involuntary servitude and unfair working conditions, and in favor of better wages.
Hoping to drastically improve living and working conditions as workers live in trailers that are overfilled and women are sexually harassed- the CIW has had a profound effect on the lives of farmworkers from fields to their homes. Rate increases, forming a system for reporting abuse, and reforming a culture that turns a blind eye to sexual assaults, CIW’s innovative and effective Fair Food Program has brought about many of these improvements and continues to fight for more by negotiating deals with the big corporate buyers who set the prices. The Fair Food Program has worked to negotiate legal agreements with big companies like Burger King, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell. Even business like Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Whole Foods have joined. But, Wendy’s has yet to come to the table.
Telemundo recently arrived in Immokalee, after hearing about the Time Magazine story. Saying that the CIW has become a powerful lead organization. While the CIW is based in Immokalee, Germino and Asbed, homeowners in Hendry County, currently working to get the CIW geared up for a 3-day “Follow the Money” Boycott Wendy’s March through New York’s bustling boroughs from March 10-12. This “Follow the Money” March hopes to bring awareness to the plight of the millions of migrant farmworkers.
“Workers who do the back-breaking work of harvesting the fruits and vegetables that feed the entire country and, in turn, generate billions in profits for the trillion-dollar retail food industry. Yet, despite the essential nature of their labor, for generations farmworkers have endured extreme poverty, sexual assault and modern-day slavery,” as explained on their website. It goes on to say, “Their Fair Food Program has been called “the best workplace-monitoring program” in the US in the New York Times, and “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” in the Washington Post, and has won widespread recognition for its unique effectiveness from a broad spectrum of human rights observers, from the United Nations to the White House.”
To learn more about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Fair Food Program, and their other efforts, you can visit them online at ciw-online.org.