It’s official — the CIW’s major spring action will be Saturday, March 21! Get ready for an unforgettable Parade & Concert for Fair Food!
Sometimes its hard to believe that we’ve come as far as we have. Just fifteen short years ago, farmworkers were making their first national call to would-be supporters in all corners of the country to join them in a vision, a vision wherein every person doing the undervalued, underpaid, back-breaking work of harvesting in the fields could do so with fair wages, just working conditions, and their right to return home at the end of the day with their dignity in tact.
It was a vision created so collectively, articulated so intelligently, led so powerfully that the farmworkers to whom it belonged galvanized communities all over the country to join them in their new, national Campaign for Fair Food.
Today, in 2015, it’s hardly a vision anymore. It’s a reality.
Today, the fourth full season of the Fair Food Program has seen protections in the Florida tomato industry stronger than ever before, with over twenty thousand workers educated by their CIW peers on their new rights: the right to report abuse without fear of retaliation; the right to form participatory health and safety committees; the right to work free of wage theft, sexual harassment, slavery. In the recent words of one worker: “Our dignity has been restored.”
We see a new horizon now, one not of a just Florida tomato industry, but of a just US agricultural industry. Indeed, the Fair Food Program is poised for a steady expansion into other states and crops, with the potential to affect tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, more workers.
But the proliferation of these rights across industries is not inevitable. It requires, more than ever, the participation of allies around the country to heed the call of the CIW and convince remaining corporate holdouts, principal among them Publix and Wendy’s, to stop their futile attempts to turn back the clocks and join this proven solution to decades-old farmworker abuse.
So this spring, we’ll take to the streets of downtown St. Petersburg toward Publix and Wendy’s — but this time, parade-style. Because though their intransigence is unconscionable, we have cause to celebrate — and we’re certainly not going to let them turn us ‘round. Our vibrant procession, full of original artwork, puppets, and even floats, will wind its way until arriving at Vinoy Park for an unmatched Concert for Fair Food, which promises unforgettable dusk-time performances on the edge of the water.
So whether you’re in the Northeast or Midwest, California or Texas or Tennessee — and absolutely if you’re in Florida — start talking about caravans! This movement has derived its power from the unbreakable relationship between brilliant farmworker leadership and unflappable commitment of ally communities. This major action is our moment to demonstrate our collective power to Publix and Wendy’s — and it’s also a time for us to build. It’s a time for us to join together, in person, after eleven months of common cause despite geographical difference, and ground our continued work together in our relationships with one another and the transformation we’ve already begun in the fields today.
We’ll be back soon with more details — who is coordinating rides from which cities, where to fly in, and, of course, which artists will be performing — but for now, start spreading the word, and get ready. This a moment you’re not going to want to miss.