The big three food service industry leaders now squarely behind growing movement for Fair Food!...
In April 2010 SEIU mounted a labor protest against Sodexo that gained considerable press coverage with celebrities including Holly Near and Danny Glover involved in the protest. Fast forward to August and Sodexo was clearly not interested in more bad press.
Coalition of Immokalee Workers--August 23, 2010
By Zoe Brent & Annie Shattuck
In June of this year the City of Chicago approved Wal-Mart's bid to open up dozens of new facilities, beginning with grocery stores in the city’s chronically underserved South side. Just a month earlier the company committed $2 billion dollars to fight hunger in the U.S. But behind the high profile donations is a decidedly less charitable story repeating itself throughout corporate America.
Food Workers - Food Justice: Linking food, labor and immigrant rights
Policy Brief highlights important links between trade policies, immigration flows and labor conditions in the Meatpacking industry
In sum: Industry giant – Smithfield is winning and workers are losing.
Between 1993 and 2000 some 2.3 million people left agricultural jobs in Mexico.Currently undocumented workers make up more than a quarter of the work force inanimal slaughter in the U.S. Why the exodus from Mexican farm labor to the slaughterhouse shop floor? Though it might be convenient for us to believe these workers came for their piece of the American Dream, a new policy brief, “Hogging the Gains from Trade; The Real Winners from U.S. Trade and Agricultural Policies” connects the dots to reveal a far darker reality where food sector titans profit while workers bear the burden of forced migration, exploitation and criminalization. Timothy Wise andBetsey Rakocy’s report uses the meatpacking industry as an example to paint a clear picture of how “the confluence of agriculture, trade, immigration, and labor policies has pushed cheap commodities south and driven people north.” Industry giants benefit from the subsidized feed prices, tariff-free imports and exports and a favorable investment climate in Mexico that the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA solidified in 1996.
Since its passage Smithfield - the world’s largest pork producer – saved an average of $284 million/year from low feed prices. While all these real economic perks are ending up in the hands of multinational companies, Mexican farmers undermined by the flood of cheap feed from the U.S. are forced off their land in search of work elsewhere. Where? The very samelarge meatpacking companies like Smithfield have been found actively recruiting undocumented Mexican workers knowing that they can pay them exploitative wages because of their precarious legal status.  The increasing criminalization of undocumented immigration keeps Smithfield’slargely immigrant workforce vulnerable to deportation if they speak out against injustice and the likelihood of labor organizing low. As if to add insult to injury, minimal penalties for labor law violations and lax enforcement on the whole make unionizing even more difficult for workers.
As Wise and Rakocy point out, “Government policies inevitably create winners and losers. It is clear that Smithfield and other large livestock firms stand with the winners.” This policy brief offers avaluable reminder of the ways in which our past policies have rigged the game for immigrant workers in the food system. Armed with this poignant analysis, the task of immigration reform is an opportunity to re-assess our priorities as a nation and to reshape the rules of the game.
Download full report here.
 Zepeda, E., T. A.Wise, et al. (2009). Rethinking Trade Policy for Development: Lessons from Mexico under NAFTA.Policy Outlook. Washington, DC, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Huffington Post Blog by Eric Holt-Giménez
April 18, 2010
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Interfaith Action and the Student-Farmworkes Alliance are marching to end modern-day slavery in the United States. They also want Publix, the major food retail chain in Florida to agree to pay farmworkers 1 cent more a bucket for the tomatoes they pick.
Numbering nearly a thousand strong, protesters have been marching for two days, from Plant City, Florida, to Lakeland. Today the workers and their supporters, converged on Publix supermarket in the bustling agricultural town of Lakeland.
The global food crisis—made worse by the financial crisis—has exposed the roots of an inequitable, unsustainable and unhealthy corporate food regime. Rapidly-growing food movements for neighborhood food security , food justice , and even food sovereignty reflect widespread discontent with the state of the U.S. food system.
“The imbalance of power between smallholders an agribusiness must be corrected" warns UN Special Rapporteur, Olivier De Schutter
March 5, 2010
To read the report upon which this press release is based, go to
GENEVA – “Agribusiness can play a key role in realizing the right to food. But States have to give more support to their small producers and push corporations to change their pricing and standards policies”, said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, as he presented his second annual report to the United Nations Human Rights Council today.
By Annie Shattuck
Jobs in the restaurant industry have grown significantly faster than jobs in other industries in the past decade, but the benefits of those jobs do not always make it to workers. Some 18% of all jobs in the US are in the food sector, and these are the lowest paid jobs in all industries in the nation.
On Cesar Chavez Day, Farmworker & Health Advocates Petitioned U.S. EPA to Cancel Carcinogenic Pesticide
California’s thorough scientific evaluation presents strong case
for reconsidering Bush-era approval of highly toxic pesticide
News Release - March 31, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC-- Eleven environmental, public health, labor and farmworker advocacy organizations from across the country filed a petition today asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to rescind the Bush administration era approval of the highly toxic fumigant pesticide methyl iodide in light of troubling new findings uncovered in California studies.