Progress For Farm Workers

It does look like consumers’ demands for food that is produced ethically are beginning to make some difference. Costco, Wal-Mart, Ben & Jerry’s (now owned by Unilever) along with a number of other food producers are taking notice and in some cases accommodating the demands of farm labor groups. There are two million farmworkers in the United States who still toil in harsh conditions, conditions that includes no days off, bad housing, and of course no vacation days. Several groups have sprungto organize workers and demand better conditions, their creation in itself a feat since the United Farm Workers union created by Cesar Chavez decades ago, had been on the decline, and many of the farm workers are here illegally. Migrant Justice is an example of the new groups. They are working with Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream in Vermont, including demonstrations at their flagship store in order for them to require the dairy farmers who supply their milk to follow a code of conduct. In Florida, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has succeeded in having McDonald’s, Burger King, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, among others to require tomatoes growers to improve pay and working conditions for 30,000 workers. They also have a Fair Food Program which has reduced much abuse from crew leaders, such as bullying and sexual harassment.
Farm workers are not covered by federal and state wage laws, they usually earn below minimum wage. Their working conditions have tested our sense of morality for generations, and the mere idea that consumer demands are pressuring big food concerns into action means we must redouble our efforts and ensure the markets we frequent respond to groups fighting on their behalf.

One thought on “Progress For Farm Workers”

  1. This is great news, that farm workers, a politically under-represented and badly treated part of our labor force, are finally being organized and heard by their employers via consumer demands. Change is possible as we, the public, become more sensitive to social injustices around us and speak up. Thanks, as always for calling attention to such social issues, the
    bad and the good…

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