From farm to grocery—how does it all happen?
This is the last of my THREE-PART SERIES of my trip to south Florida learning about FARMER's RIGHTS and FOOD JUSTICE.
Fair Food Program—there's hope. When abuses happen at one's job, people can do three things.
1. Quit- a farmer and mostly any worker usually cannot afford to quit on the spot. They have bills to pay, kids and partners that they are responsible for. Farmers are hard workers, no offense but one farm owner even said he had a few white guys and they only lasted 3 days and quit. This work is not easy. They get paid by EVERY BUCKET of tomatoes they fill up by the hour. The most I heard them tell us was 50cents per bucket...and remember they have to PICK , FILL and CARRY these bucks under a FAST-PACED and HOT environment. They also have to meet other requirements like the minimum number of buckets and all that. at most farmers will fill is 50...you do the math. Again this is at most. The average salary of a farmworker is $15,00-$17,500 (USDL, 2016).
2. File a lawsuit-everyone knows this takes wayyyyyyy too much time and money. Something that is very valuable to a farm worker, especially if they are on a work visa. And even if they are on a visa they don't have many rights in the eyes of the government in the first place--so they either can't sue or will not likely win the lawsuit.
3. Tell somebody-usually this would be someone in HR or someone in the union at the job. Farmers are at risk of losing their job if they speak--this is a sad truth. These companies sees them as dispensable. If you read my last blog post . So let's say they go to their workplace union. Oh wait....the state of Florida does not support or allow unions!! I HAD NO IDEA. Check it out on google, I'm not lying.
Justice- Honestly anything is possible even when it seems impossible. With NO MONEY from the GOVERNMENT and just a few farmers, a movement was created and now they have been able to inspire change. The Fair Food Program was created not too long ago and is CREATING, STANDING-UP and ENFORCING rights for farmworkers. The Fair Food Program makes farm owners accountable for treating farmworkers ethically--stoping and reporting abuse, adding 10cents to each paycheck, and improving the workplace (giving people shade, allowing people to use the bathroom). The organization is called CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) which has been able to partner with other organizations to support the cause. This org has done everything from increasing wages--> from 30 cents a bucket to 50 cents, partner with farms--> to adopt the Fair Food Program, file lawsuits--> for farmworker being abused, and even got MAJOR CORPORATIONS to sign on to the Fair Food Program--> stores/restaurants that sell tomatoes will ONLY BUY FROM FARMS that are part of the Fair Food Program.
FAIR FOOD PROGRAM FAST FACTS: since the program got started....
1. Safe driving at work, safe lighting, shade, water & bathroom breaks
2. $273K has been given back to farmers that did not get paid
3. 2K complaints have been addressed & resolved
Check out this link for more
What can I do? DO NOT SUPPORT companies that refuse to treat workers with respect. Wendy’s and Publix are ON THE LIST for refusing to participate in the Fair Food Program. This is mad sketchy and obviously unethical. They are clearly hiding something. Why am I so convinced? MILLION-DOLLAR companies like Walmart, McDonalds and Whole Foods all participate in the Fair Food Program.
Here’s a full list of all the companies part of the program: https://www.fairfoodprogram.org/partners/ You’ll be surprised which companies have joined!
Great start to a new year TBH. I learned SOOO MUCH and I am def WOKE! Hope I gave you some useful info for the month of February. Join me in March with CIW TO GO ON STRIKE IN NYC!!