Focus shifting to supermarket and foodservice industries as Subway joins other fast-food leaders in working with the CIW
Update: December 16, 2008:
Meanwhile, the Northeast Fair Food Tour continues. In cities from Washington to Boston to New York, the Tour delegation will be meeting with local student and community groups for celebration and education as well as organizing delegations to local supermarkets and foodservice providers' offices. Stay tuned for reports from the tour as well as more on the next steps in the Campaign for Fair Food!...
Recap of recent campaign activity:
September 29, 2008 - More than one hundred students and young people representing more than 20 states, 30 campuses and 40 organizations converged for an unforgettable and spirited weekend of consciousness-building and strategizing last weekend in Immokalee. Don't miss the exciting photo report from the Encuentro here.
Participants spent four days strengthening the SFA network by building personal relationships, connecting with members of the CIW, and making plans for several exciting upcoming actions and events focusing on the Campaign's current targets: Chipotle and Subway (scroll down for details).
Immediately following the tour, from October 10 to 12, SFA'ers across the country will be participating in National Days of Action, holding local events to expose Chipotle and Subway's role in perpetuating farmworker exploitation. These actions are being called in solidarity with the Real Food Now! Month of Action and Indigenous Resistance Day. Start planning your local action today and check out these organizing resources and action ideas!
As we usher in a new season - with workers returning to Immokalee and students to their campuses - the Campaign for Fair Food is stronger than ever, and the next few months promise to be yet another intense ride. Join the movement today to add your voice to the thousands of others demanding fair food now!
Whole Foods agrees to principles of Campaign for Fair Food; will also "explore program to help guarantee ethical sourcing and production in the U.S."
September 9, 2008 - Another groundbreaking agreement in the Campaign for Fair Food was announced today as Whole Foods Market has agreed to work with the CIW.
Check out the CIW site today and in the coming days for the press release and more analysis around this amazing development. Now, Chipotle, Subway and other food industry leaders must also come to the table. Stay tuned as we head into the SFA Encuentro and an action-packed season in the struggle for fair food!
More than one hundred students converge on Chipotle HQ in Denver
August 11, 2008 - This past Friday, members of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) joined local Denver residents for a rousing action at Chipotle headquarters in the Mile-High City, demanding that Chipotle live up to its own much-lauded "Food With Integrity" mantra and meet with the CIW.
Following the successful Burger King campaign, this action served as (yet another) wake-up call to Chipotle that it can no longer skirt responsibility and that our campaign in solidarity with farmworkers will only escalate until it comes to the table. This message was made explicit by this letter, delivered by a delegation of representatives from several national and local organizations.
Chipotle feels the heat as the Campaign for Fair Food marches on following Burger King victory
July 18, 2008 - Chipotle, the fastest-growing chain in the industry, has created quite a set of lofty expectations for itself. In its own words, Chipotle wants to "revolutionize the way America grows and gathers its food" by leveraging its purchasing power to influence its suppliers' actions.
Basing its public image on the idea of food with integrity, Chipotle has lured socially-conscious consumers by promising a product that is not, in the words of founder and CEO Steve Ells, "tied to the exploitation of animals, farmers, or the environment."
But wait... the environment, farmers, farm animals. What about the farmworkers? Those whose backbreaking labor makes it possible for fresh produce to arrive from the fields to America's tables? Apparently, the definition of "food with integrity" does not include produce harvested by workers receiving fair wages and laboring in humane conditions.
For two years, the CIW has called on Chipotle to follow the example of Yum Brands, McDonald's and now Burger King and take action to end the human rights crisis in its tomato supply chain. And for two years, Chipotle has refused, serving up free-range pork and hormone-free beef while doing nothing to ensure that the tomatoes in its burritos are free of exploitation.
But Chipotle may not be able to ignore the call for real labor reform for much longer. Consumers across the country are waking up to the fact that Chipotle's "revolution" may not be all that it's cracked up to be.
Check out the below links and resources to learn more about - and become a part of - the growing clamor for Chipotle to finally live up to its own vision of "integrity:"
May 23, 2008 - Today on Capitol Hill, the CIW and Burger King announced a landmark agreement to work together to improve the wages and working conditions of Florida tomato pickers. After a year of escalating pressure by the CIW and its allies, Burger King has agreed to:
In a complete about-face from previous statements and the recent controversy that embroiled the company, Burger King has finally acknowledged the reality of farmworker poverty, exploitation and human rights abuses, leaving the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange completely isolated in its bullheaded denial of this reality and defense of the status quo.
In the words of BK CEO John Chidsey,
As in the Taco Bell and McDonald's victories, student and youth organizing was decisive in this victory - from the "kingdoom" days of action to the March on BK Headquarters to the National Petition Drive - with BK stooping to new lows to combat that organizing.
Now, the Campaign - indeed, the Movement - for Fair Food continues, as we demand that other major purchasers of tomatoes who have profited from farmworker exploitation for too long, such as Subway and Wal-Mart, do the right thing.
And we renew our calls to Chipotle and Whole Foods to live up to their own proclaimed visions of "integrity" and "responsibility" by also taking the necessary steps to put an end, once and for all, to the human rights crisis in our nation's fields.
In the wake of yet another monumental victory for farmworker rights and for our dignity as young people, we look forward to the quickly-approaching 2008 Student/Farmworker Alliance Encuentro, set to take place in Immokalee September 18-21, where dozens of fair food activists from across the US will gather for an intense weekend of skill-building and strategizing around the campaign. Click here today for more information and to apply to attend the Encuentro!
From the McDonald's victory celebration in downtown Chicago just over one year ago, to the campuses and streets of Miami, New York, Lawrence, the Rio Grande Valley, Los Angeles, Seattle, DC, and points in between, one cry repeated millions of times by thousands of voices finally rings more true than ever today: "¡ya cayó! ¡ya cayó! ¡el rey ya cayó!"
And as the CIW declared at today's press conference at the Capitol,
"to all of you who have marched with us, organized petition drives with us, prayed with us, and struggled with us, today is a day to celebrate this hard-fought victory. Tomorrow, with renewed energy and purpose, we begin our work again to make respect for fundamental human rights in Florida's tomato fields truly universal."
Stay tuned for more information and news on this developing victory and for more on where we go from here, including a possible upcoming ride on the Subway...
Update - May 14, 2008 - The plot thickens. Fallout from BK scandals continues; focus remains on BK to improve wages and working conditions in its tomato supply chain. Stay tuned for more...
May 7, 2008 - Students, consumers growing increasingly impatient with BK's dirty tricks
Hot on the heels of continuing revelations about Burger King VP Steve Grover's smear campaign against the CIW and its allies, a must-read New York Times op/ed by author Eric Schlosser today makes clear what we've suspected all along: that Burger King was behind Diplomatic Tactical Services' efforts to spy on the SFA.
But it doesn't stop there.
The scandal has now reached new levels with the news that none other than Burger King CEO John Chidsey knew about the company's use of Diplomatic Tactical Services, whose owner Cara Schaffer recently attempted to infiltrate SFA by posing as a student, despite being denied a private investigator's license by the state of Florida. (Click on the image to the left to hear Chidsey's opinion on farmworker poverty.)
Here are some highlights from the explosive op/ed:
What does this all mean? You can read the CIW's analysis of where the campaign -- and the investigation into Burger King's recent behavior -- should go from here.
What's clear is that Burger King must change course and must be held accountable for its two-pronged attack on the CIW and its allies through an online smear campaign and the attempt to spy on SFA, both tactics having now been linked to the highest levels of leadership at the corporation.
And while Burger King may claim that it was justified in hiring an unlicensed private security agent -- a move which may in itself have been illegal -- to "protect its employees and assets," its concern about such harm stemming from the actions of SFA is totally baseless. Furthermore, given recent revelations, it's clear whose behavior needs to be put under scrutiny.
SFA is a nonviolent group that has used tactics such as peaceful protest and hunger strikes to educate our peers and persuade the two largest fast-food corporations in the world to sit down and negotiate agreements with farmworkers to improve wages and working conditions in these company's tomato supply chains. Given our history, the fact that Burger King would hire an outfit such as DTS to spy on us is as unjustifiable as it is unacceptable. And given BK's attempts to publicly discredit the CIW, it's not too much of a stretch to assume that "safety" was not their only motivation to spy on us. The incident wreaks of desperation, with BK turning over every possible stone, hoping (but failing) to find another justification to continue its current course.
But there's more. According to a recent article in the Ft. Myers News-Press. What may be another key piece in this insidious puzzle is the exact identity of "Kevin," who hid behind the email address "stopcorporategreed" in what now looks like the first attempt to infiltrate SFA, just days before we were contacted by Schaffer of DTS. "Kevin" -- using the same exact email address which, according to the article, had previously leaked an internal Burger King memo to the Associated Press -- contacted SFA, posing as a student from Virginia. His email address was subsequently traced by the AP directly to Burger King headquarters.
Burger King says it's conducting an internal investigation into this mounting scandal. But just as we've learned that you can't trust the "fox to guard the henhouse," Burger King must be subjected to an independent investigation if we're really to get to the bottom of this sorry sequence of events.
What's clear today is that it's time for Burger King to cooperate with such an investigation, and, more importantly, for it to stop wasting precious time and resources in underhanded and morally reprehensible tactics that already have done irreparable harm to the company and instead come to an agreement with the CIW.
From our humble beginning 8 years ago as a small group of Florida students called to action by the inspiring human rights work of the CIW -- including its 230-mile march across the state -- SFA has held itself to the high standard of accountability and responsibility necessary for our work in partnership with one of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the US. The only thing we've done to Burger King is try to educate the company that the carefully-managed brand image it spends billions on can't hold up against the reality of farmworker exploitation and unethical behavior that lays behind the company's soaring profits.
Fortunately, as of late, Burger King's own behavior has made this task all the more easy for us.
In major development, 'libelous' comments are directly connected to BK VP Steve Grover as farmworkers, allies deliver petition signatures
May 1 , 2008 - Busted. The trail of insulting, libelous online comments aimed at the CIW and its allies has been directly connected to Burger King Vice President Steve Grover. On at least one occasion, Grover referred to farmworkers in Immokalee struggling to defend their human rights as "blood suckers" and "the lowest form(s) of life."
The litany of posts by Grover -- hiding behind anonymous internet usernames (and even his own daughter's) and repeatedly referring to CIW allies as "dupes" and "fools."-- called into question the integrity of the CIW and the Yum Brands/ McDonald's agreements, even after Grover was told to stop spreading such lies.
This latest in a series of revelations of dirty tricks by Burger King against the CIW and SFA has Fair Food activists wondering what concrete steps Burger King will take to show that, as the company claims, the words of a corporate vice president do not reflect "official policy."
In the words of CIW member Gerardo Reyes-Chavez,
Meanwhile, 200 farmworkers and their allies gathered at Burger King's headquarters this past Monday to deliver almost 85,000 signatures from the nationwide Petition Campaign to End Slavery and Sweatshops in the Fields.
Take a moment today to get caught up on all the latest, from the links below to the CIW site. From the ongoing national petition drive to the widening scandal at the highest levels of BK, to an exciting development in the Chipotle campaign, it's looking to be a hot summer for BK and the food industry as the CIW and its allies demand an end, once and for all, to sweatshops in the fields!
Petitions to be delivered April 28... "not just hamburgers being grilled at Burger King"
April 24, 2008 - Just 4 days remain before the delivery of signatures from the CIW's National Petition Campaign at Burger King headquarters (Mon., 4/28 at 3:30pm, 5505 Blue Lagoon Dr., Miami). Now's your chance to sign and forward the e-petition if you haven't already!
In light of its recently-revealed dirty tricks, Burger King is facing increased scrutiny. Asked recently about efforts to infiltrate SFA and libelous comments about the CIW that have been traced directly back to BK headquarters, a Burger King spokesperson "declined to comment." We all know what that means... Stay tuned, as this is surely not the last piece of news in this saga!
Countless consumers across the US (and beyond) have signed the CIW's Petition, pledging to boycott Burger King in the near future should that become necessary. The pressure on BK will continue -- and more irreparable harm will be done to its brand -- if it continues down the same path. There's a way out for Burger King, a way for it to do the right thing. Burger King knows exactly what that is.
Burger King's campaign of dirty tricks revealed as SFA, CIW take petition campaign across the sunshine state and CIW testifies in US Senate
April 15, 2008 - In what may be a turning point in the campaign for fair food (coming exactly one year after the McDonald's victory and launch of the Burger King campaign) it has been revealed that SFA has been the target of an espionage & infiltration attempt by Diplomatic Tactical Services, a "South Florida based security and investigative firm" specializing in "covert surveillance and undercover operations."
These revelations come as a widespread bogus blogger operation traced directly to Burger King headquarters was also uncovered. The fake blogger spread libelous, anonymous attacks on the CIW across the internet, trashing the CIW's allies as "dupes."
See the links below for coverage on this and other developing news from the campaign.
Is the spy operation directly connected to Burger King, which has, in the words of the Ft. Myers News-Press, "sort of" denied responsibility? We leave that for you to decide -- at least for now. One thing is clear: such attempts at disruption and infiltration don't happen in a vacuum. They happen in response to well-organized campaigns. They happen when corporations like Burger King are called upon by the public to take real responsibility and when those corporations start to run out justifications to not do so.
Meanwhile, the Florida Petition Tour has kicked off, and the national petition campaign to end sweatshops and modern-day slavery in the fields surges forward with a renewed sense of urgency. CIW and SFA members are rolling across Florida to bring the CIW's national petition to students and community members from Tampa to Tallahassee to Orlando. Click here for daily reports from the tour!
Stay tuned to this site and that of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the days ahead for all the latest developments in the fast-moving campaign for fair food. From attempts at infiltration to today's senate hearings on farmworker poverty, it's sure to be a jam-packed couple of weeks in the lead-up to the April 28 petition delivery action and procession at BK headquarters in Miami!
Dozens of actions & events held as CIW & allies prepare for April 28 petition delivery in Miami
April 8, 2008 - The 2008 Student/Labor Week of Action has come to a successful close with students taking action for economic justice and human rights in communities across the US.
The CIW's National Petition Campaign was a central theme of the Week of Action and continues to grow as thousands of consumers demand that Burger King and other food industry leaders take the necessary steps to end human rights abuses and modern-day slavery in the fields, and pledge to boycott Burger King if it fails to do so.
From the upcoming Senate Hearings in DC to the April 28 petition delivery and action at BK headquarters in Miami, get ready for an action-packed few weeks as the Campaign for Fair Food heats up!
National petition campaign launched as SFA calls March 31 Day of Action!
CIW: "Let us together - workers and consumers - launch a petition campaign to end modern-day slavery and the everyday sweatshop conditions that enable it to flourish in the 21st century."
February 27, 2008 - The CIW has launched a National Petition Campaign to End Sweatshops and Modern-Day Slavery in the fields. Joining the petition drive, SFA announces a national student & youth day of action this March 31, 2008 - one of the first days of this year's Student/Labor Week of Action and Farmworker Awareness Week and the birthday of Cesar Chavez.
Background: Seven years have passed since the launch of the Taco Bell boycott; a year has passed since Burger King publicly rejected the CIW's demands and launched a campaign to take away the gains made through the Yum Brands and McDonald's agreements; and just one month has passed since a federal indictment was handed down for the 7th case of modern-day slavery in the fields over the past decade. And still, Burger King refuses to take responsibility for the degradation and sweatshop conditions endemic to the industry that supplies its tomatoes.
It is time to say enough. Standing together as workers and consumers, with the national petition drive as our tool, we can make the latest slavery case the last.
Powerful actions rock BK from Austin to Miami
February 14, 2008 - No love for Burger King! That was the message brought to the Miami-based burger chain by hundreds of students and farmworkers this past weekend from Austin, Texas to New York City to Miami.
In Miami, SFA and CIW teamed with United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) to bring over 250 students from across the country and 50 farmworkers from Immokalee together for a raucous protest of a BK restaurant across from Florida International University.
In Austin, local fair foodistas hosted representatives from Immokalee for a weekend of education and action including a march on Burger King and a delegation to Austin-based supermarket chain Whole Foods' headquarters.
And finally, CIW and SFA shared some lessons from the successful Taco Bell boycott with some friends in New York as part of of Israeli Apartheid Week, connecting struggles with old and new allies. All told, it was a busy weekend of raising consciousness, spreading the message of the Campaign for Fair Food, and putting BK on notice that it can only expect more and larger actions in the weeks and months ahead.
"Tomato Freakout," days of action, and more: Time for the Movement for Fair Food to get back to work!
January 14, 2008 - Want to make BK execs really freakout this month? Now's your chance.
We're calling on SFA members to grab a camera today and capture their own reactions to Burger King's sweatshop-produced burgers, a la the latest flashy ad campaign from the world's #2 burger chain. Click here for all the details, then get to your local Burger King today and show 'em if there's anything to "freakout" about at Burger King, it's the human rights crisis in Florida's tomato fields.
The holiday doldrums are over, it's time to get back to work! Click on the links below to see how you can take action today!
Plus: Updates from the campaign:
BK campaign to escalate in upcoming months...
December 20, 2007 - As another year in the Campaign for Fair Food comes to a close, we invite you to check out some of the highlights from the past 12 months - from the monumental victory in the McDonald's campaign to the escalating struggle with Burger King - by clicking here (and scrolling up).
1,500+ rally at Burger King headquarters
December 5, 2007 - The hugely successful 2007 March on Burger King brought together farmworkers, students, and others for a colorful and undeniable action through Miami and rally in front of BK's corporate headquarters. This — the second major mobilization pulled off by farmworkers and their allies this year — marks another clarion call to the fast-food industry that it is time, finally, for it to take responsibility for the poverty and human rights abuses in the fields where its tomatoes are harvested.
From the action on the campus of Florida International University just days earlier, to the Concert for Fair Food capping off the weekend's events, students and youth came out to prove to BK that we do, indeed, care about human rights and our own dignity as consumers and as youth.
Check out the links below for reports, multimedia and breaking news as the Movement for Fair Food continues!
In the weeks and months ahead, as Burger King continues its heinous and cynical strategy of teaming with the most retrograde elements in the Florida tomato industry to not only reject the demands of the CIW and its allies, but to also take away the hard-won gains of recent years, it's more important than ever for SFA to step up the pressure and the commitment to see this campaign through to victory.
So too will we be looking at the cast of characters behind this story — from BK execs such as Steve Grover to the private equity owners (and Board members) of BK such as Goldman Sachs to BK ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky — and sharpening our strategies and skills to take them on... Stay tuned
Burger King sabotages progress; undaunted, Movement for Fair Food gathers in Miami
November 29, 2007 - CIW: "In the wake of our agreements with Yum Brands and McDonald's, we have arrived on the threshold of a more modern, more humane agricultural industry in Florida. Yet rather than join us on that path toward further progress, Burger King has allied itself with tomato industry representatives to push us back, back toward the same abuse and exploitation we have experienced for decades. But we will not be turned back. We will not give up the gains we have already won, and we will continue forward until all of Florida's farmworkers can enjoy a fair wage and humane conditions in this state's fields."
Almost 30 events & actions held in 14 states demanding Burger King do the right thing!
November 12, 2007 - This Halloween season was particularly frightening for Burger King as SFA members held almost 30 educational events and protests calling on BK to stop the lies, stop the stalling, and start working with the CIW to truly address the sweatshop conditions and poverty faced by workers who pick its tomatoes. Check inside for just some of the pictures and highlights from around the country.
It's time for Burger King to join Yum and McD's in helping to nudge Florida agriculture out of the ditch of perpetual exploitation. It's time for us, as Burger King's target demographic, to stand for justice and dignity for farmworkers and young people alike. Join us in Miami as we take that stand!
SFA gears up for November mobilization with Days of Action!
"Doom Days" quickly approaching for the King as CIW & allies step up pressure
October 10, 2007 - On the heels of the sucessful CIW MiniTour, and as Burger King executives try to dig themselves out of their own pile of lies, SFA members will take to the streets across the country for the Kingdoom Days of Action demanding that Burger King take responsibility for the sweatshop conditions and human rights abuses in its tomato supply chain.
From October 27 through November 4, join in for a week of creative Burger King actions to keep the heat on the King as we build toward the major march & rally on Burger King headquarters in Miami, Florida this November 30!
Update: October 10, 2007 - see all the details inside!
If you can't attack the message, attack the messenger - Burger King caught in blatant lie, fast-food giant's PR strategy grows desperate!
September 27, 2007 - When your opponent is left with nothing but lies in its defense, victory can’t be long in coming. That's the lesson we're taking from Burger King's recent behavior - which has included claims that "the CIW is asking BK to write it a check" and even questioning the existence of the CIW's agreements with Yum Brands and McDonald's. Desperation, indeed.
But as the CIW's response to Burger King's outlandish attacks states, "When a giant takes a wild swing and misses, he leaves himself vulnerable, and can be brought to earth by the force of his own weight."
Watch, read, and judge for yourself as Burger King goes dirty in its efforts to deflect growing public pressure for human rights in its tomato supply chain. And once you've been fired up by BK's web of deceit and cheap shots, join us and CIW allies from around the country in the upcoming Days of Action.
Students and youth across the country to engage in escalating education and action building up to national mobilization in Miami
September 17, 2007 - From September 29 through November 30, students and youth across the country will engage in two months of education and action building up to the national mobilization in Miami and calling on the world's #2 burger chain to take responsibility and work with the CIW to improve farmworker wages and working conditions!
Click here to find out how you can get involved in all the upcoming activities:
September 14, 2007 - SFA has been nominated for this month's Myspace Impact Award for Social Justice, and we need your help to win. Myspace users can vote for us today by clicking here. The Impact Awards recognize Myspace users who are using the site as a tool to help make positive change in the world. The winner in each category receives a cash prize of $10,000 and some prime real estate throughout Myspace for an entire month.
This is an incredible opportunity not only for SFA to receive some sorely-needed funding, but also to spread the word about our organization and the Campaign for Fair Food to the millions of people who regularly use Myspace. So head on over to http://www.myspace.com/impactawards and vote for SFA now!
Students and youth gather in Immokalee to lay groundwork for "2 months of action" in BK campaign
September 7, 2007 - November 30 may be the official end of hurricane season, but for Burger King it will instead represent the culmination of a "perfect storm" of organizing, education, and action by the CIW's student and youth allies.
About 90 SFA members gathered earlier this week in Immokalee for the hugely succesful, third-annual Encuentro, where they shared skills, built personal connections, visited Miami for an action at BK headquarters, and made plans for the escalating campaign to bring the world's #2 burger chain to the table to work with the CIW to improve farmworker wages and working conditions.
Energy ran high for the entire weekend, which included concrete planning for what was deemed at the Encuentro as an upcoming "two months of education and action" featuring:
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for late-breaking news as we make good on the commitments from this year's Encuentro and show BK that our way is justice for farmworkers!
Encuentro and Miami action take aim at the King!
August 30, 2007 - As the steady stream of students and youth trickles into Immokalee for the 3rd-annual SFA Encuentro, expectations and energy are running high for this weekend's gathering and tomorrow's action at Burger King headquarters in Miami. In addition to announcing a major mobilization against Burger King to take place this November, the student and youth allies of the CIW will be presenting this letter to Burger King CEO John Chidsey.
An excerpt from the letter reads,
Stay tuned for the full report and photos from this year's Encuentro and the action in Miami!
From Broward County to Miami, summer actions provide small preview of things to come...
August 7, 2007 - The 100-degree-plus heat index hitting southern Florida this week isn't the only thing making Burger King executives feel a little hot under the collar. As the first wave of workers trickles back into Immokalee from summer harvests up north, and as preparations continue for the 3rd-annual SFA Encuentro, Miami-area Burger King restaurants (and corporate headquarters) have been the scene of protests and delegations calling on the world's #2 burger chain to do the right thing and work with the CIW to bring about real improvements for farmworkers in its tomato supply chain.
This summer of action led by farmworkers and their allies is just a small taste of what Burger King can expect this Fall as the Campaign for Fair Food escalates.
How much longer will Burger King, Chipotle and the rest of the fast-food industry hold out and refuse to join Yum Brands and McDonald's in working with the CIW? The answer lies in part in the strength of the youth and student movement in solidarity with the CIW - a movement that will gather in Immokalee in just a few short weeks to strategize and plan the next steps in the campaign.
Stay tuned as we hit the ground running for a Fall sure to be packed with exciting actions and developments in the Campaign for Fair Food!
SFA and CIW join thousands in Atlanta - "another US is necessary"
July 1, 2007 - The recently-concluded, first-ever United States Social Forum brought together thousands of activists and organizers and hundreds of organizations for five jam-packed days of relationship-building and discussion and debate over the current course and future path of social justice movements in the US.
Of course, SFA and CIW represented at the forum. A crew from Immokalee joined members of the SFA steering committee at various workshops, plenaries, and actions where topics such as the Campaign for Fair Food, the SFA and CIW's unique organizing philosophies, and our intersections with other movements took center stage. As the CIW's campaigns and victories over the years have shown us, another world is indeed possible. And for that world to come about, another US is necessary. The USSF may be a key moment in that process. Now let's make it happen.
Campaign for Fair Food rolls forward with BK in its sights!
May 28, 2007 - In major news from the Campaign for Fair Food, Yum! Brands has extended the Taco Bell agreement to cover all five of its brands. This huge step brings the number of national fast-food chains working with the CIW to improve the wages and working conditions in Florida's fields to six, including Taco Bell and McDonald´s!
This exciting news comes on the heels of two powerful national days of action against Burger King by farmworker allies calling on the fast-food chain to work with the CIW to expand and deepen these recent advancements in farmworker wages and working conditions. Increasingly, Burger King, Chipotle, and the rest of the fast-food industry are running out of excuses to not bring about these improvements in their own tomato supply chains.
Fair Food movement powers forward with SFA days of action!
May 1, 2007 - "CIW: 2; McDonald's and Taco Bell: 0; Burger King watch the f--- out!" So spoke Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello at the rally and concert capping off the 2007 Truth Tour and yet another resounding victory for farmworker justice. Now it's time for students and youth to take the fight to Miami-based Burger King!
This May 11-12th, join students and young people across the country in standing with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to end sweatshops and modern-day slavery in the fields as we seek to expand the precedents of the Taco Bell and McDonald's agreements to the world's #2 burger chain. Click here for action ideas you can take in your own community, including dropping off the new BK manager letter.
While BK uses the purchasing power of thousands of restaurants to drive down tomato prices - and, consequently, tomato pickers’ wages - it has publicly rejected working with the CIW to address human rights abuses in the fields (offering, instead, to "re-train" farmworkers to work in its restaurants). Ironically, BK recently announced an initiative to improve the treatment of farm animals in its supply chain.
This May 11-12th, let's show Burger King that our way is justice and dignity for Florida farmworkers!
An unforgettable week, from landmark victory over McD's to electrifying "Concert for Fair Food!"
April 25, 2007 - For months, the 2007 Truth Tour was shaping up to be something very special: a major escalation of the McDonald's campaign puncutated with the largest protest in the history of the fast-food industry outside the headquarters of the world's largest restaurant chain. For months, an advance team of CIW and SFA members weathered the Chicago winter to carefully lay the groundwork for these two incredible days of action. And for months, SFA members from New York to Southern Califorina made plans to get themselves – and their communities – to the actions in Chicago. And then...
Two days after leaving Immokalee, the Truth Tour pulled into The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA and announced a landmark agreement with McDonald's that lays the foundation for systemic, industry-wide change in Florida agriculture. The historic convergence in Chicago subsequently shifted to a celebration of this enormous victory and a declaration that Burger King would be the next major target in the Campaign for Fair Food. On April 14th, Chicago's House of Blues was packed to the rafters as the CIW and 2,000 allies came together for an unforgettable afternoon of music and celebration, including the historic reunion of Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine (above).
Coming off the momentum of the Truth Tour and yet another resounding victory for farmworker justice, students and youth now take the fight to Miami-based Burger King! Stay tuned for upcoming action alerts and organizing resources!
Come to Chicago – now more than ever! Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello to play together April 14th!
April 9, 2007 - Today at The Carter Center in Atlanta, the CIW and McDonald's announced a landmark agreement to work together to improve the wages and working conditions of the farmworkers who pick Florida tomatoes. After two years of escalating pressure by the CIW and its allies, McDonald's has agreed to:
"Two years ago, our agreement with Yum Brands marked the first step toward a distant dream of ensuring human rights for workers in Florida’s fields," said Lucas Benitez of the CIW. "Today, with McDonald’s, we have taken another major step toward a world where we as farmworkers can enjoy a fair wage and humane working conditions in exchange for the hard and essential work we do every day. We’re not there yet, but we are getting there, and today’s agreement should send a strong message to the rest of the restaurant and supermarket industry that it is now time to stand behind the food they sell, from the field to the table."
As in the Taco Bell Boycott victory, youth and student organizing played a crucial role in the swift success of the McDonald's campaign. From aggressive grassroots education to nationally coordinated protests, SFA provided leadership to a broad and diverse network of young allies determined to transform McDonald's marketing "sweet spot" (18-24-year-olds) into a well-organized sore spot. This victory demonstrates once again the effectiveness and clout of the alliance between Florida's farmworkers and students and youth throughout the U.S.
Building off this tremendous momentum, the Campaign for Fair Food now surges ahead at full speed – this time towards Miami-based Burger King. Two months ago, the world's #2 burger chain publicly rebuffed the CIW by rejecting a proposed partnership, smugly offering farmworkers jobs at Burger King restaurants instead of real rights and fair wages. Now as we move from the Clown to the Crown, this weekend's mobilization in Chicago – where Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine have just confirmed they will perform together – takes on new significance. Join the CIW, SFA and thousands of allies in Chicago as we take the fight for fair food to an exciting new level!
April 7, 2007 - Early this morning, nearly 60 farmworkers from the CIW and a handful of allies departed from Immokalee officially kicking off the 2007 McDonald's Truth Tour. Over the next several days, the tour will make its way by bus from southwest Florida to the Windy City for the massive protests shaping up in McDonald's backyard on April 13th and 14th. Meanwhile, caravans of allies from New York City to Austin, Texas and plenty of points in between are making final preparations before hitting the road to join us in Chicago for the historic weekend.
The Truth Tour comes on the heels of a busy spring of education and action around the McDonald's campaign. Just last week, students on dozens of campuses across the country organized Fair Food events for the annual Student Labor Week of Action and Farmworker Awareness Week. As in year's past, the Campaign for Fair Food was one of the highlights of the Week of Action, demonstrating once more the ever-growing support among young people for a shift towards a food industry that doesn't rely on the endless exploitation of farmworkers.
9 national student orgs warn McD's: "Our patience is all but exhausted!"
March 28, 2007 - With the McDonald's Truth Tour less than two weeks away and the countdown ticking to the major Chicago actions on April 13th and 14th, students around the country are kicking off the Student Labor Week of Action and Farmworker Awareness Week with dozens of Fair Food actions and events.
To coincide with these activities, nine leading national student organizations released a powerful new letter today blasting McDonald's policies over the past two years and calling on the world's largest restaurant chain to work with the CIW to improve wages and working conditions in its tomato supply chain. The letter – signed by SFA, United Students Against Sweatshops, Student Labor Action Project, the National Latina/o Law Student Association, and others – warns:
Read the complete letter here. And don't miss the latest press from the SFA network:
McD's Truth Tour, major Chicago actions approaching!
March 8, 2007 - Tom Morello (aka The Nightwatchman), former guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, has joined Zack de la Rocha, Olmeca, Son del Centro, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Rebel Diaz, and others as a confirmed participant in the CIW's Carnaval & Parade for Fair Food, Real Rights, and Dignity, April 14 in Chicago! Morello is just the latest artist to throw his support behind what is quickly shaping up to be an unforgettable weekend, with a jam-packed program full of music, protest, culture, and just maybe a bit of history. Make plans today to join us in Chicago for the April 13-14 mobilizations for farmworker justice!
Locally, over 60 CIW allies from Chicago, Detroit, Carbondale, and other points in the region gathered in late February for the hugely successful Midwest Encuentro. The weekend featured an incelment weather protest, as well as discussion and strategizing with CIW members, students, and community organizers laying the groundwork for sustained support for the McDonald's campaign in the fast-food giant's backyard.
Our dreams, our rights – Demand a better future!
March 1, 2007 - March 28th through April 4th marks the 8th Annual Student Labor Week of Action as well as Farmworker Awareness Week. Join students at hundreds of campuses for this powerful, nationwide demonstration of our commitment to economic justice – from access to affordable education to respect for campus employees to corporate accountability for human rights abuses in the fields. Bringing together these issues and many more, the week – which bookends Cesar Chavez's birthday and the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – has grown into a truly impressive testament to diverse movements demanding a better world.
Kicking off just 10 days before the 2007 McDonald's Truth Tour departs from Immokalee, this year's Week of Action provides an excellent opportunity to pull out all the stops in mobilizing for the historic Chicago actions on April 13th and 14th. Ideas include last-minute education and outreach events, a fundraiser to help defray travel costs, op-ed's to campus and local newspapers explaining why you're going to Chicago, and of course, creative protest actions at McDonald's restaurants.
Feb. 14, 2007 - This April, farmworkers and their allies will gather in Chicago for an historic mobilization marking a new phase in the Campaign for Fair Food. But we know this struggle for dignity in the fields will not end with the actions against McDonald's this spring. Now is the time to come together and build the connections and skills we'll need in the months and years ahead. Join us Feb. 23-24 in Chicago for the Midwest Encuentro – a networking and strategy gathering of youth, student, community and labor allies of the CIW:
Workshop topics include: Presentation and discussions with farmworker leaders from Immokalee; "Fair Food Animators" training; Mobilizing for the April 13-14 actions; Educating and engaging communities beyond April; Solidarity and connections between our struggles; Art-making and action at local McDonald's!
Come join us, whether you're in the immediate Chicago area or the broader Midwest. Participating cities include Urbana-Champaign, Carbondale, Minneapolis, and Madison. Housing will be provided for those coming from out of town. Contact us to RSVP or for more information.
"Caravans of justice" are being organized from all points of the country to the Windy City, home of fast-food giant McDonald's. The Campaign for Fair Food – demanding that McDonald's take responsibility for the decades of grinding poverty and degradation in its tomato supply chain – is rapidly building toward a decisive turning point. Farmworkers from Immokalee and their allies are going up against one of the world's largest corporations to demand the dignity of workers and consumers alike. Will you be there?
This April, join us for this pivotal and historic convergence. For two years, we've been patient while McD's stalled. Now is the time to show our collective strength and creativity, turning out the largest possible numbers in Chicago:
Please contact us with any questions you may have. See you in April!
Historic mobilization to usher in "new phase" in Campaign for Fair Food!
Jan. 10, 2007 - "Today, we are tired, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., of 'relying on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us.'" So declared the CIW in announcing a major mobilization in the Chicago area this April aimed at fast-food giant and industry leader McDonald's.
Looking back, looking forward...
Dec. 21, 2006 - We take a moment as the end of another year looms to reflect back on "the year that was" in the struggle for fair food. Click here for a summary of the actions, events, campaign developments, and more from the ever-escalating efforts to make McDonald's take responsibility for the poverty and abuse in its tomato supply chain.
New steering committee selected amidst continuing McD's actions!
Plus, another Rolando sighting in Chicago and more local fair food committees take root!
Nov. 27, 2006 - We are pleased to announce the 2007 SFA Steering Committee! The selection of the SC represents another milestone in the development of the SFA network, and increases the Steering Committee to 18 members. This talented group of young organizers and leaders will be key as the escalating campaign against McDonald's continues, and every day more of McD's "sweet spot" becomes its sore spot.
"1-2 Punch" actions in 40 communities across country
Nov. 2, 2006 - The 2006 CIW Midwest Mini-Tour has returned to Immokalee after a hugely successful 10 days of classroom presentations, discussions, protests, and consciousness-building around the Campaign for Fair Food. SFA was there at every step of the tour, talking to students and young people about the pivotal role we can, and indeed must, play in this struggle. From Carbondale to Urbana-Champaign, from Chicago to South Bend, the tour received a huge reception and positive energy from thousands of people who make up what McDonald's calls its "sweet spot." Click here to read a report from the Mini-Tour.
Oct. 14, 2006 - As excitement continues to mount for the upcoming Oct. 27-28th National Days of Action, farmworkers from the CIW and their allies are traveling from Immokalee, FL to Chicago, IL as part of the 2006 McDonald's Mini-Tour! The tour – which will visit campuses and communities in Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana from Oct. 15th-23rd – will bring a clear message to consumers and McD's executives alike: "There's sweatshop tomatoes under the Golden Arches!" In recent weeks, the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food has received growing support ranging from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to actors Martin Sheen ("Apocalypse Now") and Matthew Modine ("Full Metal Jacket"). Now, the McDonald's Mini-Tour aims to bring the campaign to wider audiences right in McDonald's backyard.
Click here for the itinerary, media advisory, and photo reports!
Meanwhile, the National Latina/o Law Student Association presented SFA with the 2006 Community Service Award at its recent conference in Seattle! According to NLLSA, the award "is presented yearly to an organization that has demonstrated a wholehearted commitment to the defense or the empowerment of Latino communities across the country." In addition to concrete victories in partnership with the CIW, the award also cites the SFA's "collaborative organizing philosophy and structure" as important achievements. (Click here to read the complete letter.) We're truly honored to receive this accolade and look forward to our continued work with the students of NLLSA.
Finally, don't miss the latest story on Ag-Mart – a known supplier of McD's grape tomatoes. A recent expose in North Carolina's News and Observer found 30-40 workers for Florida-based Ag-Mart living in "crowded, squalid housing" with "no hot water, no shower, and not enough beds." One wonders if these dehumanizing conditions are indeed what McD's expects from its "SAFE-certified" growers. For how much longer will the fast-food industry cling to illusions of impunity in the face of such abuse? The answer, in part, lies in our hands. Let's make sure this message is heard on Oct. 27th and 28th.
From 'sweet spot' to sore spot!...
Oct. 3, 2006 - This October 27-28th, join students and young people across the country in standing with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to end sweatshops and modern-day slavery in the fields!
With strong support from students and youth, the CIW won its four-year Taco Bell Boycott in 2005. Now the CIW and its allies are organizing to extend these precedent-setting gains for farmworkers throughout the rest of the fast-food industry. Over the last year, however, fast-food giant McDonald's has consistently responded to the dire human rights crisis in the fields as a mere public relations crisis, threatening to roll back the advances the CIW has won through years of struggle.
Immediately following the CIW's McDonald's Mini-Tour – which will travel from Immokalee, Florida to McDonald's headquarters outside Chicago, Illinois from October 14-24th – the Student/Farmworker Alliance calls for two days of widespread, decentralized actions on October 27-28th to show the fast-food giant that Immokalee's workers are not alone in this fight.
The time is now for students and youth – what McDonald's calls its advertising “sweet spot” – to demonstrate to the Golden Arches that if it refuses to work with the CIW for real labor reform in its supply chain, we will soon become its sore spot. Start organizing today in your community for the Days of Action, and don't miss out on this pivotal “1-2 Punch!” Let us know what you're planning, and be sure to send us photos of your colorful, creative actions!
Sept. 29, 2006 - From Sept. 21-24, over sixty young activists and organizers from across the country gathered in Immokalee, Florida for our 2nd annual SFA Encuentro: three days of reflection, discussion, and strategizing about the struggle for fair food and building a more just world. Youth and student leaders from more than 15 states and representing more than 30 organizations and campuses – a sample of the breadth of support that the CIW can count on in the months and years ahead – participated in the Encuentro. Old and new allies from Southern Illinois to Miami, from UC Santa Cruz to Notre Dame, from the Bronx to Southern Mississippi, came together for this important weekend in the birthplace of the CIW.
This year's Encuentro took place against the backdrop of an escalating campaign against the multi-billion dollar McDonald's Corporation – the largest fast-food chain on the planet and an enormous buyer of Florida tomatoes. As in the four-year Taco Bell Boycott, student and youth organizing will play a critical role in the campaign's overall success. Our weekend together in Immokalee inspired and re-energized the SFA network, serving as an important springboard for the work ahead as we turn McDonald's marketing "sweet spot" (18- to 24-year-olds) into a well-organized sore spot.
Florida crewleader guilty on 57 of 58 charges in federal court
Aug. 28, 2006 - Amidst the background of the escalating campaign to pressure fast-food giant McDonald's to work with the CIW to improve Florida farmworkers' wages and working conditions, documented cases of brutal labor abuse continue to mount. On Aug. 25, a federal jury in Jacksonville, Florida, returned a guilty verdict on 57 of 58 charges against Ron Evans, Sr. – a crewleader accused by federal prosecutors of luring farmworkers, many of them recruited from homeless shelters, into "a form of servitude."
"Causing homeless people to incur large debts by selling them crack, cigarettes and beer [on credit] forces these individuals into a form of servitude that is morally and legally reprehensible," explained U.S. Attorney Paul Perez in the Washington Post (8/25) following Evans' conviction. Evans' crew harvested in Florida for Tater Farms, an operation owned by Frank Johns, the 2004 Chairman of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA). Johns defended Ron Evans, Sr., as "an above average leader" to the press even after prosecutors filed over 50 charges against Evans.
The Evans case – which takes place in a larger context of modern-day slavery in Florida's fields – should serve as a clarion call for reform from McDonald's and other powerful end-buyers of cheap Florida produce. After all, the FFVA is a founding partner of McDonald's SAFE initiative, an industry-designed code of conduct created to isolate the CIW and roll back the historic yet fragile gains of the Taco Bell Boycott. And now, less than one year later, this case unfolds. Is the fox guarding the henhouse? You decide.
Ag-Mart, McDonald's and pesticides in the fields
Palm Beach Post editorial (almost) says it all
Aug. 21, 2006 - A recent editorial in the Palm Beach Post correctly fingers Ag-Mart - a powerful Florida-based grower operating as far away as North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey – with neglect in protecting farmworkers from exposure to dangerous pesticides. The effects of these toxins on Florida's farmworkers and their families are as devastating as they are well-chronicled, including a damning investigative series that ran in the Post in 2005.
Importantly, the editorial makes the straightforward claim that "complaints from consumers and corporate buyers" - not enlightened good will or the threat of yet another round of litigation - is what will force a modicum of progressive change from firms such as Ag-Mart. Indeed, this is precisely what the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has argued since it launched its successful Taco Bell Boycott in 2001.
The CIW notes in an earlier report, "someone buys the tomatoes Ag-Mart produces." That someone - or rather, a very large "someone" - is McDonald's , as documented by Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) activists in a piece published on AlterNet earlier this year. Read more...
July 30, 2006 - From Sept. 21-24, 2006, dozens of young organizers and activists from across the country will gather in Immokalee, Florida for three days of strategizing, skill-sharing, and focused discussion about the struggle for fair food and building a more just world. This fall's event – building on the success of the 2005 Encuentro – will provide an invaluable opportunity for the student and youth movement in solidarity with the CIW to coordinate its activities for the upcoming year as we take the campaign against McD's and the rest of the fast-food industry to exciting new terrain!
And don't miss the recent article on SFA and the burgeoning student-labor movement in Critical Moment, a great Michigan-based news magazine: "A new generation of labor activists emerges!
"Certainly a $1.2 billion annual advertising war chest can buy a better study than this...."
May 3, 2006 - For months, McDonald's has touted the upcoming release of an "independent study" to prove that, despite the CIW's claims, there is no farmworker exploitation in McDonald's tomato supply chain. In fact, we were told, conditions in McDonald's tomato supply chain are not only good, they're actually better than the conditions enjoyed by workers who fall under the precedent-setting Taco Bell agreement.
Last week, in a watershed moment for the campaign, McDonald's released the much-anticipated study, "So riddled with errors both large and small that it cannot be accepted as factually accurate on virtually any measure," according to Dr. Bruce Nissen, a well-respected labor economist and Director of the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University. He further noted, "Almost nowhere are ordinary norms of social science research followed," concluding, "The report should have no credibility whatsoever." View Dr. Nissen's entire critique of the study.
Today, seven national organizations representing high school, university, and professional students -- Student/Farmworker Alliance, the National Latino/a Law Student Association, United Students Against Sweatshops, United States Student Association, Student Labor Action Project, Student Environmental Action Coalition, and Living Wage Action Coalition -- echoed Dr. Nissen's findings in a powerfully-worded letter directed to McDonald's CEO, Jim Skinner. The letter reads, "It is one thing to commission a bogus study to prove that workers' calls for change are unfounded.... However, to commission a study executed with such breathtaking incompetence is beyond the pale of comprehension." Read the complete letter here!
Chipotle & McD's: Farmworkers deserve "Work with Dignity!"
April 21, 2006 - Chipotle is an important part of the Mcdonald's group, and its "Food With Integrity" manifesto makes it clear that the company is committed to ensuring and improving the humane treatment of animals and the production of healthy vegetables in its supply chain. Yet, nowhere does the manifesto mention or discuss how "Food With Integrity" will improve the grievous conditions for farmworkers who its harvest tomatoes.
Farmworkers earn 40 to 45 cents for each 32-pound container of tomatoes they pick, and that sub-poverty wage has remained stagnant for almost 30 years. They do not enjoy the same rights as workers in other industry and do not receive overtime or health care.
Take action to urge Chipotle to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to ensure improved wages and the participation of farmworkers in the protection and advancement of their own rights within Chipotle's and McDonald's tomato supply chain. Certainly, "Food With Integrity" should include "Work With Dignity" for the people who toil to bring tomatoes to the tables of Chipotle's restaurants across the country.
* 400 people march on McDonald's in Chicago!
* Over a dozen solidarity actions around the country!
* CIW launches "aggressive public education campaign" aimed at McD's and Chipotle!
April 10, 2006 - The rental vans and sound systems have been returned, the protest art is neatly stacked in the CIW office, and the jury is in... the 2006 McDonald's Truth Tour: The Real Rights Tour was wildly successful!
Hitting 17 major cities throughout the South and Midwest in just 10 days, the three-legged tour raised the consciousness of thousands of consumers about the reality of farmworker exploitation in McDonald's tomato supply chain. The tour culminated in two days of fiery action in the Windy City: a human rights delegation and picket in the freezing rain at the Golden Arches' global headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois on Friday March 31st, and an electrifying 400 person march on "Rock 'n Roll" McDonald's in downtown Chicago on April 1st. At the end of the five-mile march -- which took place on the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Taco Bell boycott -- the CIW announced a new "aggressive public education campaign" aimed at McDonald's and Chipotle, the quick-service Mexican restaurant chain that is part of the McDonald's group!
And those who couldn't join us in Chicago instead brought the fight for fair food to their communities and campuses. Between March 26th and April 4th, in support of the Student Labor Week of Action, students and youth in the SFA network organized over a dozen solidarity actions calling on McDonald's to work with the CIW for real labor reform in its supply chain. During this Week of Action, youth around the country -- from Florida to southern California -- spoke out for economic justice and workers' rights, demonstrating to McDonald's that their new "sweet spot" (18-24 year-olds) sees the reality of farmworker exploitation hidden behind McDonald's logo and billions of marketing dollars. The unifying message of these actions was loud and clear: "i'm leavin' it!"
SFA presents musician Tom Morello human rights award!
April 6, 2006 - SFA members had the pleasure of presenting activist/musician Tom Morello (Audioslave, formerly Rage Against the Machine) the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award at a ceremony in Washington DC organized by American Rights at Work. A tireless advocate of workers' rights, Tom has been an outspoken supporter of the CIW, performing at a rally outside Taco Bell headquarters that capped off the 2004 Taco Bell Truth Tour, as well as endorsing the newly-formed Alliance for Fair Food.
Morello (top row, right) himself is no stranger to student activism. While at Harvard, he was deeply involved in anti-apartheid divestment activism and efforts to improve the working conditions of campus cafeteria staff. After college, Morello founded the critically-acclaimed Rage Against the Machine. The Grammy-award winning group created a huge following due to their pioneering mix of rap and hard rock, politically-charged lyrics, and solidarity efforts on behalf of political prisoners, low-wage workers, and the Zapatistas, among others. Morello is also a co-founder of Axis of Justice, an organization dedicated to building bridges between music fans around the world and local political organizations. SFA tips its hat to Tom and looks forward to working with him in the future!
Also, check out the recent Rolling Stone coverage (4/27): "Tom Morello swings his hammer" - read more
SFA helps launch Alliance for Fair Food!
March 8, 2006 - Declaring, "There is today a human rights crisis in Florida's fields," key CIW allies from across the country gathered with workers in Immokalee to announce a powerful new alliance for, "fair wages and working conditions, fundamental human rights and an end to modern-day slavery in the agricultural industry." According to the March 8th press release, the launch was timed to coincide with the one year anniversary of the settlement of the Taco Bell boycott, which established several crucial principles for social responsibility in the fast-food industry. Since McDonald's is now actively working to undermine these gains for Florida farmworkers, the first objective of the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) is to work with the CIW to reform McDonald's tomato supply chain.
Founded by Student/Farmworker Alliance, the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, and Interfaith Action, the AFF has been endorsed by organizations and individuals such as United Students Against Sweatshops, the AFL-CIO, musician Tom Morello, author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), SEIU, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), Amnesty International USA, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, Grammy Award-winners Ozomatli, Ruckus Society, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Professors Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, and more.
Tell McDonald's to join CIW in real labor reform!
Feb. 6, 2006 - The CIW is announcing an important new action in the campaign to abolish slavery and sweatshops in Florida agriculture. Over the next several weeks, we ask that you take this simple action to help end the human rights crisis in Florida's fields: Drop a letter at your local McDonald's calling on the fast-food giant to stop side-stepping the real issues and work with the CIW for real farm labor reform, and ask the manager to make your feelings known to corporate HQ in Chicago. Download the letter and drop it off like these Notre Dame students (pictured left) did.
Also this week, the National Latina/o Law Student Association weighed in on the McDonald's campaign with a powerfully worded statement blasting the SAFE initiative as, "thinly veiled contempt for farm workers." And while you're at it, be sure to read "Beneath the Golden Arches," an incisive new article by SFA activists that looks behind McDonald's billion dollar brand and raises some pointed questions about the employment of a former slaver – who served 33 months in federal prison – in the Golden Arches tomato supply chain. Makes you wonder what exactly they mean by "social responsibility."
Is Ronald on the run? McD's PR machinery kicks into high gear!
Dec. 20, 2005 - It's not even January and it's already been a rough winter for the Golden Arches as they come under increasing fire for moves to side-step working with the CIW to address human rights abuses in its tomato supply chain. In late November, McD's responded to a CIW Action Alert by announcing its participation in the newly-minted "SAFE" (Socially Accountable Farm Employers) program, a grower-controlled initiative that critics declare does nothing to improve Florida farmworkers' sub-poverty wages and working conditions. Within days, an unsettling web of connections emerged between SAFE, the staunchly anti-labor Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, and CBR Public Relations – a firm that specializes in "activist response management" and lists McD's as one of its star clients. To learn more about this tangled web, read the new CIW analysis, "What we have learned."
McDonald's PR campaign has drawn the ire of CIW allies, including national student organizations and youth activists across the country. United Students Against Sweatshops recently stated that, "McDonald's assertion that SAFE is an independent monitoring agency is nothing short of laughable" (read the complete USAS statement here). Meanwhile, campus newspapers have also latched onto the story (Daily Texan, 11/30: "McDonald's boycott next?"). And two powerful articles have raised even more questions about McDonald's recent moves:
Demand McDonald's work with CIW to end human rights violations in the fields!
Nov. 21, 2005 - For months, the CIW and allies across the country have called on McDonald's to do the right thing: Follow Taco Bell's lead and work with the CIW to establish fair wages and working conditions for the farmworkers who pick its tomatoes. In March of this year, Taco Bell agreed to take responsibility for the abysmal conditions faced by farmworkers who pick its tomatoes. The agreement established a partnership between Yum Brands – Taco Bell's parent company – and the CIW and set several important precedents for social responsibility in the fast-food industry. Yet despite strong public support for the ground-breaking agreement, McDonald's has steadfastly refused to follow Taco Bell's lead on this simple path to justice.
Contact McDonald's! Join the CIW in calling on the world's largest restaurant chain to stop dragging its feet and to work with the CIW to improve the wages and working conditions for the men and women who pick its tomatoes. And don't miss the AP story (11/21/05) "Farmworkers target McDonald's"!
SFA joins speaking tour en route to Ft. Benning!
Nov. 21, 2005 - Thousands converged on Ft. Benning, Georgia Nov. 19-20 for the annual protest against the SOA Over 19,000 human rights activists gathered in the largest SOA protest ever to demand the closing of the infamous military base where countless Latin American officers have been trained in methods of torture and repression. With a caravan of nearly 30 people from Immokalee, the CIW and SFA were out in full force, speaking from the stage on Saturday and leading a standing-room only workshop that night.
Leading up to the protest, SFA hit the road with some friends for the Abundant Life, Peace & Justice tour. The tour, organized by Ag Missions, linked food sovereignty and human rights struggles in the Americas, drawing connections between grassroots social movements throughout the hemisphere and the campaign to shut down the SOA through popular education, multimedia presentations, and stories of people from rural communities in the US and Latin America including Selfa Sándoval of the Guatemalan banana workers union SITRABI and Beehive Collective.
Mother Jones awards SFA "Campus Activism Victory of the Year!"
postcards available for McDonalds,
Burger King & Subway!
1st SFA Encuentro a smashing success!
60+ gather to sharpen skills, plan next steps!
Aug. 10, 2005 - Building on the momentum of the watershed victory over Taco Bell – including summer press coverage in the New York Times, NPR's All Things Considered and the PBS news series NOW with David Brancaccio – SFA hosted over 60 students, young organizers, artists and rabble rousers for a week-long gathering in hot and humid Immokalee, Florida. From August 1-7, we shared stories, skills, and songs while strategizing for the next phase in the struggle for farmworker justice: taking on the rest of the fast-food industry. All in all, It was an unforgettable week of movement-building that left the SFA network stronger and better prepared for the work ahead.
Click here for a full report-back from the 2005 encuentro!
Mar. 8, 2005 - After nearly four years, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) won their national boycott against Taco Bell. Amidst the growing momentum of the 2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour and dozens of "Boot the Bell" campaigns on campuses nationwide, the CIW and Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, reached a historic agreement. Without a doubt, years of persistent and creative student and youth organizing made this amazing victory possible.
In the words of Tom Morello, former guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and co-founder of Axis of Justice, "This is a major victory for the workers and demonstrates that by standing up and standing together, we can overturn any injustice. By standing up and standing together, we can change the world."
UT-San Antonio Boots the Bell!... 2005 Truth Tour Underway!
March 3 - The historic 2005 Taco Bell Truth Tour is underway and students across the country are finalizing plans to join the CIW for the March 12th national convergence at Yum Brands' headquarters in Louisville, KY. Meanwhile, the Boot the Bell campaign keeps raging!
University of Texas -San Antonio has become the 22nd school nationwide to Boot the Bell! In December 2004, students at UTSA learned of their student government's intent to bring Taco Bell to campus. Quickly, students - members of San Anto MEXA - organized to block the new restaurant, citing the Taco Bell boycott as their motivation. In a matter of weeks, the student government conceded that it would not bring Taco Bell to campus because of the students' campaign. Now, two months later, it is clear that the victory is real.
According to Denise Rodriguez, a UTSA sophomore and member of San Anto MEXA, "As a daughter of a migrant worker, the thought of tolerating the presence of an institution similar to the one that oppressed my mother and kept her from continuing her education apalled me. It would have been a slap in my mother's face - as well as mine - to have Taco Bell on the campus where I am continuing my education, at least until Taco Bell steps up and truly recognizes the human rights of the workers who put the tomatoes in its tacos. Because many other Mexistas have this similar experience, it was easy to mobilize against Taco Bell."
Our Minds Are Not For Sale: Think Outside the Bell!
For Taco Bell, image is everything. That's why the fast-food giant spends over $200 million on a single adverstising campaign to shape the desires of its young consumers. According to their website, "147 million people see a Taco Bell commercial once a week – more than half of the U.S. population."
In their marketing research, Taco Bell describes their target market (18-24 year olds) as "The New Hedonism Generation." Their analysts conclude, "To catch increasingly short attention spans - and the insatiable demand for novelty - marketers today need to follow the lead of the entertainment industry with a steady stream of new products... This life-in-the-fast-lane sensibility also fuels hedonistic impulses, from raves to rich-tasting food."
Fortunately, most young people care about a lot more than constant stimulation and marketing hype. We know slick advertising doesn't change the reality of exploitation in Taco Bell's products - including sweatshop conditions that tomato pickers continue to suffer in Florida's fields: sub-poverty wages, no right to organize, no right to overtime pay, and no benefits whatsoever. We know logos and branding can't erase the grim reality of captive workers and modern-day slavery in U.S. agrculture in the 21st century.
On our campuses and in our communities, we have a crucial role to play in the struggle for fair food that respects human rights. Today, the Taco Bell boycott is one of the fastest-growing movements for economic justice on campuses today. SFA's Boot the Bell campaign seeks to remove Taco Bell restaraunts and products from schools nationwide. To date, students at 22 colleges and high schools have "Booted the Bell" to pressure Taco Bell to take responsibility for human rights abuses in its supply chain. Will your school be the next to take a stand?
PO Box 603, Immokalee, FL 34143 :: (239) 657-8311 :: organize (at) sfalliance.org