Farmworker led. Community powered.
The Alliance for Fair Food was born to stand with farmworkers confronting abusive conditions and sub-poverty wages in Florida's tomato fields.
For decades, Florida farmworkers faced human rights abuses, including systematic wage theft, sexual harassment, health and safety violations, and in the most extreme cases, modern day slavery. In 1993, farmworkers in Immokalee, FL from Mexico, Guatemala and Haiti united and began organizing to change this reality. They would later become the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). After a decade of gridlock struggle with Florida growers throughout the 90s, the CIW identified that the root of their exploitation actually lay in the increasing degree of consolidation in the retail food industry: Multi-billion dollar brands were leveraging their unparalleled purchasing power to demand ever-lower prices from growers, which in turn created a downward pressure that perpetuated farmworkers’ poverty and abusive conditions.
THE Campaign for fair food
It was in that moment that the CIW began looking outside of Immokalee for allies who would back them in launching the national Campaign for Fair Food, which would make demands for justice in the fields on some of the largest food retailers in the world. Their demands on these retailers were three-fold: that they support a wage increase by paying an an additional penny per pound of tomatoes; require a human-rights-based Code of Conduct to be enforced on the farms that grow their tomatoes; and that workers play an integral role in the monitoring and enforcement of these agreements.
Three distinct, yet overlapping groups were formed to heed the CIW’s call:
Founded in 1998, Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida was created to coordinate faith-based participation in the Campaign for Fair Food, bringing the spiritual resources of diverse faith traditions and the moral weight of faith-based voices in society.
Founded in 2000, Student/Farmworker Alliance began building a network of students and young people who saw also themselves as targets of multi-billion dollar brands, and sought to use political education, leadership development and action in their solidarity efforts with farmworkers.
Founded in 2007, Just Harvest USA was created as a bridge to the growing food movement, working to expand notions of sustainability to include farmworkers’ rights and ensure that those at the base of our food system are seen as integral partners in envisioning and creating a more just food system for all.
The Campaign’s first target was Taco Bell, whose parent company is Yum! Brands – the largest fast food conglomerate in the world. After four years of a national boycott — including 25 campuses cutting university contracts with Taco Bell and the endorsement of several major national faith denominations — in 2005, farmworkers and their allies won the first groundbreaking agreement with Yum! Brands, the parent conglomerate of Taco Bell that also includes KFC, Pizza Hut and others. After two more years of tireless mobilization, they won a binding agreement with McDonalds; one year later, Burger King.
In 2010, after a critical mass of nine corporate retailers had signed agreements with the CIW, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange — representing 90% of the industry — finally signed a watershed agreement to implement the changes farmworkers had demanded, and the Fair Food Program was born: a unique collaboration among farmworkers, growers and participating buyers of Florida tomatoes that is now in operation across the vast majority of Florida’s $650 million tomato industry.
WE'RE STRONGER TOGETHER
The Campaign for Fair Food has won binding agreements with fourteen multi-billion dollar food retailers to date, including Taco Bell, McDonald's and Walmart. Tens of thousands of farmworkers are seeing never-before-seen rights in the fields, such as shade and water; the right to file a complaint without fear of retaliation; the right to work free of sexual harassment and modern slavery; and the first real wage increase in 30 years.
Today, as the Fair Food Program grows and the Campaign for Fair Food sees a reach far greater than ever before — through “Food Chains” film, the Fair Food Program label, and the ever-strengthening on-the-ground organizing of the CIW’s ally network, the three ally organizations — Interfaith Action, Student/Farmworker Alliance and Just Harvest USA are coming together under the umbrella of the Alliance for Fair Food. We aim to build upon the network’s greatest strengths as multi-cultural, multi-generational and cross-constituency, while creating space for new allies who have typically fallen outside our structure.
Following the tremendous leadership of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the ally network’s tenacity, creativity, spirit and commitment have been integral to the unprecedented victories for workers that are changing the landscape of human rights in U.S. agriculture. Drawing from our collective strengths and successes, our mission remains to stand with farmworkers as they continue their struggle for justice and dignity.