On March 31, in honor of the birthday of Cesar Chavez and culminating national Farmworker Awareness Week, representatives of the Farmworker Association of Florida, Central Florida Jobs With Justice, YAYA of the National Farm Worker Ministry, OUR Walmart, Organize Now and other local Central Florida organizations met with staff of the office of Florida Senator Bill Nelson in Orlando. In solidarity with actions around the country supported by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the group raised up the issues of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 as well as expanding protections for farmworkers, including the importance of passing a comprehensive immigration reform.
The Senator's staff assured us that Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of the S. 84, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women, and a cosponsor of the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, S. 1737, which would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over two years and then index it to inflation and increase the minimum wage for tipped employees until it reaches 70 percent of the minimum wage for regular employees.
While farmworkers are excluded from minimum wage labor laws, the Farmworker Association of Florida stands in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters in other occupations all along the food chain. All workers deserve to make a living wage! Farmworkers need the same wage protections afforded all other U.S. workers. Together, Si, Se Puede!
TOP 50 GARDENS, Vote from April 1-April 21
The Campesinos’ Gardens, run by and for primarily farmworker families, were founded in the citrus-growing region of Fellsmere, Florida in 2010. Ironically, those who work to provide fresh food for the masses, are often unable to provide sufficient, quality produce for their own families. Utilizing city-owned lands, the gardens engage farmworker and other low-income families in meaningful sustainable agriculture efforts. The Campesinos’ Gardens’ two sites in Fellsmere reach more than 100 families annually with fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Local farmers’ markets enable the Gardens to reach additional community members with naturally-ripened, freshly-harvested produce. The model will be replicated this year in two additional farmworker communities – Pierson and Florida City. The Seeds of Change grant would be used to support youth education efforts, and to support infrastructure costs of expanding to two new areas, including purchase of tools, seeds, and fencing and irrigation supplies.
(taken from latinorebels.com)
In observance of Women’s History Month, LatinoRebels.com is celebrating Latinas who are making a difference every day. Today, as a part of National Farmworker Awareness week, we honor some of the women who are leading the migrant women’s rights movement.
Farmworker women put food on our tables. They plant, pick, and pack fruits and vegetables, among other crops and plants. It is estimated that more than 600,000 women are responsible for feeding us. These women are often subject to poor and unsafe working conditions. They are often victims of wage theft, gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, and a range of other problems.
Often, a one-size-fits-all approach has been applied to efforts to improve conditions for farmworkers, with little attention paid to the unique issues that confront farmworker women as women workers
Kicking off National Farmworker Awareness Week on Monday, March 24th, and leading up to the national premiere of the new Cesar Chavez movie on March 28, two community-based Apopka organizations hosted the travelers and fasters that are part of the national Fast for Families tour as they make their way across the state of Florida.
The Farmworker Association of Florida and Hope CommUnity Center, noted for their extensive work on comprehensive immigration reform, including the DREAM Act for immigrant youth, and AgJOBS for farmworkers, showed their community-wide support for the message that the Fast is taking to our political leaders in Washington, D.C. Their goal is to convince national law makers that the detentions, deportations, and separations of families must stop now, and that a fair and just solution to the immigration crisis must be reached this year.
Women for Common Sense Immigration Reform. Take the pledge!
We are all better off when our communities are healthy and strong, we feel safe and our children can thrive. Women especially know the importance of coming together and wouldn’t be where we are without the help and support of the women in our lives—our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. We honor and celebrate our unique commitment to protecting families and giving equal opportunities and respect to women and girls. We also know that it’s not about what you look like or where you were born that makes you American. It’s how you live your life and what you do that defines you here in America.
Lake Worth, FL - Francisco Diaz, 41-year-old undocumented immigrant who lives in Homestead, got on his bike this past Sunday, March 2nd, and started "Pedaling for 20 Million Dreams" until he reaches Washington DC. Francisco will bring a pen to President Obama with the purpose of asking him to use his power and sign an executive order that stops deportations, echoing the campaign launched by the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Mr. President, yes you can! Use the power of the pen!. He also seeks to ask Congress to pass Immigration Reform.
Taken from W.K. Kellog Foundation
“I am happy to see the changes taking place from the ground up. Our community is using its farming knowledge to benefit our own families,” says Yolanda Gomez, community organizer and garden manager with the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF). “I am proud of our accomplishments, and excited to see the garden project growing and involving young people. We are eating healthier and, in our own way, practicing food sovereignty.”
Among those who came to Capitol Hill to lobby for protections was Selena Zelaya, 18, a freshman at Seminal State College in Florida. She took time off from her busy schedule to visit the Hill twice, where she spoke to Florida congressional officers with her father Miguel about the harm her parents face from working as farmworkers.
Zelaya said the announcement was “great news” but cautioned that “any revisions or updates must be strong enough to protect farm workers." She continued:
It is important because many farm workers are being exposed to things they don't even know about and in some cases they don't see the importance of protections because they are not being trained every year. It means so much to my parents being farm workers for many years and having pesticides affect our family directly.
Why does this issue matter? Because an estimated 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops annually in the United States. Our nation’s estimated 2.4 million farmworkers form the backbone of the U.S. agricultural economy and face the greatest threat from the health impacts of these chemicals.
Selena Zelaya, with her father Miguel, in Washington, D.C. (Matt Roth / Earthjustice)
Taken from Fusion Net
You might think that the days were gone when elementary school kids would work long hours in the field picking crops, but that’s the reality at farms across the country.
The minimum age required for children to work in agriculture is 12 years old, but a Fusion investigation found kids as young as 8 and 10 years working in tobacco fields in North Carolina.
The presence of children in the agricultural sector isn’t a secret. Roughly 400,000 children work in agriculture every summer in the United States, according to The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Program.
Studies show these children face a high risk of dropping out of school, getting injured, or experiencing other serious health issues like heat exhaustion or green tobacco poisoning. Efforts to be better regulate the child labor have been pushed back by the farm lobby.
In this video, investigative reporter Rayner Ramirez visits the fields, talks to the young workers and their parents, and confronts farm industry officials about the persistence of child labor in agriculture.
From January 24 to January 27, the Farmworker Association of Florida was proud to host La Via Campesina International Peasant's Movement.
La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.
La Via Campesina comprises about 150 local and national organizations in 70 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether, it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent from any political, economic or other type of affiliation.
The slogan of this movement is: "Globalizando la lucha! Globalizando esperanza!" meaning "Globalizing the struggle! Globalizing hope!"
“We would like to dedicate this blog in memory of the four Lake Apopka farmworkers, community leaders, and long-time Farmworker Association of Florida members – strong and dedicated women leaders and agricultural workers - who we lost in 2013. In memory of Angela Tanner, Willie Mae Williams, Betty Woods, and Louise Seay. With gratitude and remembrance from the community. We will miss you.”
By Jeannie Economos
When I first started working for the Farmworker Association of Florida in 1996, they told me part of my job was to work on the issue of Lake Apopka. Little did I know at the time that Lake Apopka would become my life’s work for the next 17 years. And, it would become personal…as I came to know and love the community of people I worked with – the farmworkers who fed America for generations.
Got food? Thank a farmworker
National Farmworker Awareness Week
March 24 – 31, 2014
National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW) is a week of action for students and community members to raise awareness about farmworker issues on our campuses and in our communities. In 2014 we celebrate the 15th Annual National Farmworker Awareness Week to raise awareness about farmworker conditions and to honor their important contributions to us every day!
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.
“I’m a very shy person. It takes a lot to make me talk,” Zelaya says. “But it was an issue I had to speak up about. When it’s something important, I like to speak my mind.”
Both of Zelaya’s parents are farmworkers in their home state of Florida, and Selena came back to DC this week to meet with congressional and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives to continue pushing for improvements to the weak and outdated Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which sets agricultural worker safety standards for pesticide use, but has not been updated or revised for more than 20 years. Public interest environmental group Earthjustice, Farmworker Association of Florida and several other farmworker advocacy organizations are leading the effort to push for these stronger protections.
Fed up with regulations that do not go far enough to protect them from exposure to toxic pesticides, farmworkers from Florida and North Carolina are on the move and going to Washington, DC. As they travel, they will be braving freezing cold temperatures in order to advocate for themselves, their families, their communities and for our food supply, and to let decision makers know that pesticide protections benefit us all. They will be meeting with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and with members of Congress to insist that stronger Worker Protection Standards be adopted and enacted. The Worker Protection Standards were first established over 20 years ago and have not been updated to reflect the new scientific knowledge that now links long-term pesticide exposure to chronic illnesses and to health impacts on the second generation.
Article taken from: Pesticide Action Network
EPA recently fined Bayer CropSciences $53,000 for endangering the lives of farmworkers with pesticide exposure in their Puerto Rican research and nursery operations. While this is a tiny drop in Bayer's multi-million dollar budget, we do take it as an encouraging sign.
The good news: When rules are enforced — in this case, the federal Worker Protection Standards (WPS) — employers are held accountable for protecting workers from exposure to hazardous pesticides. The less good news: Enforcement actions like this one are all too rare, and the WPS itself is old, inadequate and in serious need of an upgrade.
But there's more good news. That upgrade is finally happening, and we’re working with partners around the country to make sure the revised law does right by the workers it’s designed to protect. In the Puerto Rico case, Bayer CropScience failed to comply with several requirements of the existing WPS. Pesticide use did not follow label requirements, nor did the employer provide ample water, soap and towels for routine washing or an emergency decontamination area for workers.
- Thank you Winn Dixie!
- International Human Rights Day on December 10th!
- A Dime a Day
- "Take Action on November 25 and during IFWW week to Tweet you Support of Protections for Farmworkers"