The Success of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers with the Fair Food Program


In 1935 America passed the National Labor Relations Act which granted Americans basic rights in the workforce, however it left out farm laborers and domestic workers from this same protection. This has led to the radical mistreatment of farm workers, their conditions often referred to as modern day slavery. Many agricultural laborers have their wages withheld, are malnourished, and are living far below the United State’s poverty line. As prices have steadily increased in America, pay for agricultural workers has remained stagnant. A group of workers in Florida formed a coalition to demand companies are held accountable for the treatment of the workers for the produce they purchase.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers

The coalition was founded in 1993 by a group of agricultural laborers to discuss the mistreatments of their community and at work. It was primarily focused on the issue of the tomato industry, as wages within the industry had been declining for twenty years, despite the dramatic increase in the cost of living. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers organized farm workers and student groups to stage boycotts and various demonstrations, including a hunger strike, against major companies that purchased Florida tomatoes with their Fair Food Program. The Fair Food Program had great success. They committed many partners to the Fair Food Code of Conduct to ensure the results of the program were enforced. Since their commitment, the Fair Food Program has given over $30 million to Participating Growers’ payrolls, following through with the goal of workers being paid an extra penny per pound of tomatoes picked. In addition, they have successfully educated over 250,000 workers on their rights, installed verifiable time clocks to record workers’ hours, and eliminated forced labor, sexual assault, and violence on the farms. This was achieved through a toll-free complaint line they established that offers a bilingual Fair Food Standards Council investigator who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Beyond the Fair Food Program, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has also worked on defeating modern day slavery with their Anti-Slavery Campaign. They drove across states with a trailer museum displaying the horrific conditions many agricultural workers live in. Through this campaign they have investigated, uncovered, and generally assisted in the prosecution of various farm slavery cases across the Southeastern United States, liberating over 1,200 workers since the 1990’s.

It is crucial that we give agricultural employees a space to vocalize their working conditions. With the onset of Coronavirus and California’s fires there are new issues that farm workers are facing that are often overlooked and it is crucial they are given the proper training and equipment to work safely. The United States relies on their labor, and they should be treated with this in mind.

Stay updated with the incredible work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on social media:
Instagram: @immokalee.workers
Facebook: @CIWonFB
Twitter: @ciw

Be the first to learn about the latest DeWaste news.