When Mario Vargas showed up at the Washington, D.C., offices of representatives from his home state of Ohio in July, he shared stories from farmworkers who are getting sick from pesticides. Joined by his daughter and girlfriend, they made the rounds talking about how it feels to inhale pesticides while pregnant, how farmworkers don’t know what their basic rights are, and how many workers are afraid to tell the truth about what is really going on in the fields. Read more
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1. The real minimum wage in the U.S. is $2.13 an hour.
The regular hourly minimum wage is a paltry $7.25 an hour. If you earn tips, your only hourly guarantee is $2.13.
The struggle for labor justice in the fields of the United States—and perhaps far beyond—took an historic stride forward yesterday. At a folding table in a metal-clad produce packing shed beside a tomato field in southwestern Florida, two high-ranking executives from the giant retailer Walmart, which sells more groceries than any other company in the world, sat down beside two Mexican farmworkers and signed an agreement to join the Fair Food Program. Read more
It’s a tolerable 40 degrees in Mount Dora, Florida, where 18-year-old Selena Zelaya is from. Instead of hanging out with friends or working at her part-time job at McDonald’s, Zelaya braved the freezing temperatures in DC to lobby on an issue close to her heart: Farmworker protections. It’s her second time lobbying in DC on this issue. Read more
In 1993, six farmworkers gathered in a local Catholic church in Immokalee, Florida, two hours northwest of Miami. Seated in a circle of folding chairs, they began to recount the human rights abuses they had suffered and witnessed while working in the tomato fields of Florida. Read more
Restaurant workers haul ass to provide us seasonal, delicious, safely-prepared food. And yet their meager wages—the typical restaurant worker makes $15,000 a year—are barely enough to pay their rent and groceries, let alone health insurance premiums. (This is especially true in the case of bussers and dishwashers, some of the least glamorous and lowest paying jobs in the restaurant industry.) Read more
Today, as we dig into our Thanksgiving leftovers–for us, that’s pumpkin pudding and my mother-in-laws famous nutloaf–we’ll be thinking about the Walmart workers around the country who are bravely stepping away from their jobs to bring attention to the paltry pay and poor working conditions by the country’s largest private employer. Read more
“Please donate food items here so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.”
That’s the text of a sign hanging over a bin at a Walmart in Canton, Ohio. A photo of the food drive surfaced earlier this month, sparking new attention to the connection between hunger and working conditions in America. Read more
The growth and influence of the food movement are undeniable. Take, for example, the proliferation of farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture, or the 4,500 events that took place across all 50 states on this year’s Food Day. These are just some of the testaments to the power of everyday eaters expressing their food beliefs. The list of qualifiers we now eagerly attach to our meals has exploded—we want food that’s local, organic, sustainable, fair trade, healthy, vegan, macrobiotic. Yet, with all of the craze around food and its various product labels, something seems amiss. Read more
This week, from November 24-30, is the second annual International Food Workers Week (IFWW), organized by the Food Chain Workers Alliance. Organized around Thanksgiving, our goal is to lift up the workers in our food system–from farmworkers to those who work in meat, poultry, and food processing and in the distribution, retail, and service industries. With 20 million food workers in the U.S., and millions more around the world, our economy and our daily sustenance depends on these people. Read more