New York City—Three young members of the Community/Farmworker Alliance (NYC), a local coalition organized in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), spoke at Bluestockings Bookstore here on Oct. 14. They discussed the Campaign for Fair Food.
Fair Food activists are urging Trader Joe’s to ensure their tomatoes are picked by workers who earn a decent wage and work in humane conditions. Trader Joe’s refusal to sign such an agreement disgusted customers nationwide. Many criticize Trader Joe’s usage of the “Wal-Mart Model” of low prices and low wages.
Lupe said 90% of tomatoes from September to April are grown in Immokalee, Fla. Workers earn 45-50 cents per 32-lb. bucket; annual wages average $10,000. There is widespread sexual harassment, no breaks, wage theft, locking workers into trucks. Our ultimate goal is to inspire other workers to organize and get corporations to be more responsible, she said.
Audrey explained their strategy is to target corporations at the top of the food chain; work on college campuses with allies like Dine With Dignity, which seeks compliance from food-service vendors like Aramark, Sodexo and Marriott, and make the invisible visible.
Loren stated one of their approaches was “Brand Busting”—to deconstruct corporate marketing. “We use ‘Traitor Joe’s’ against Trader Joe’s, and ‘Tell Publix to do the right thing,’ because their CEO has said, ‘Don’t let profit get in the way of doing the right thing.'”