This Labor Day, we want to hold up all of the frontline workers who put themselves at risk to keep things running and take care of our communities, not only during this pandemic, but all the time. Industrial farmworkers and food processors are some of the most essential workers, keeping the nation fed. Yet many of them face exploitation and health hazards, and are especially at risk of COVID-19.
Farmworkers have been organizing for many years to fight for their rights, dignity, and health, whether through strikes or community organizing. The organizing of workers in Florida’s tomato fields led to the formation of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in 1993. The CIW has been recognized internationally for its achievements in fighting human trafficking and gender-based violence at work, as well as its groundbreaking Fair Food Program, which monitors participating farms for socially responsible practices and partners with national buyers to pay workers more for their work. Other organizations working to lift up farmworkers include Farmworker Justice, Feeding the Frontline, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, and the National Center for Farmworker Health, and I encourage you to support their important work.
If you want to learn more about farmworker issues, these books are also excellent places to dive in: