For Immediate Release
Meghan Cohorst, Student/Farmworker Alliance (Immokalee), 239-503-1533, firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Cisneros, Student/Farmworker Alliance (Florida Gulf Coast University), 239-200-1710
Richard Blake, Student/Farmworker Alliance (University of Florida), 813-767-8512
Students Call On Sodexo to Follow Suit as Aramark Agrees to Work With CIW
campaign waged by
students on campuses across the country, Aramark has
agreed to work
with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to directly improve
farmworker wages and working conditions in the tomato fields of
Florida. The agreement comes a year into the Student/Farmworker
Alliance (SFA)'s "Dine with Dignity" campaign, which calls on major
food service providers to take responsibility for the human rights
crisis and grinding poverty faced by workers in their tomato supply
chains. SFA's Dine with Dignity campaign has also helped to usher in
groundbreaking agreements between the CIW and Bon Appetit Management
Company and Compass Group. With the ascension of Aramark, Sodexo now
stands isolated as the only major food service provider to not yet join
this rising tide of social responsibility.
"This victory is a testament to the power we have as students and young
people standing together with farmworkers. The agreement comes in the
wake of several successful campus campaigns resulting in Student Senate
resolutions calling on Aramark to work with the CIW, including at UF.
Thanks to this movement, Aramark has come to understand that the voice
and participation of farmworkers themselves are necessary and central
components of any real change in the agricultural industry. Sodexo
should take note, as all eyes are on them now," said Richard Blake,
Student/Farmworker Alliance member at the University of Florida.
"Victory by victory, we're carving out a new world of fair wages, human
rights, and dignity from the shameful history of exploitation in
Florida's fields. Now that Aramark has come around, Sodexo doesn't have
a leg to stand on. If corporations like Sodexo and Publix are to truly
embrace social responsibility and guarantee to consumers that the food
on our tables is not the product of human rights abuse, they must step
up and follow Aramark and several other industry leaders in agreeing to
work with the CIW," said Meghan Cohorst, Student/Farmworker
"As the daughter of a migrant farmworker and student at an
Aramark-contracted campus literally down the road from Immokalee, I had
no choice but to be a leader in this fight. Even on a seemingly
apathetic and conservative campus, we made a difference and garnered
significant support amongst the student body for this campaign. SFA has
once again played a crucial role in walking shoulder-to-shoulder with
the CIW to another victory. Now, Florida's self-described community
grocer, Publix, must come to the table and understand that farmworkers
are also part of our communities and deserve to be treated with
respect," said Angela Cisneros, Student/Farmworker Alliance member
at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Farmworkers picking tomatoes for the corporate food industry toil from
dawn to dusk for sub-poverty wages at a piece rate (40-50 cents for
each 32-lb. bucket of tomatoes) that has not changed significantly in
over 30 years. They perform this grueling, dangerous work with no right
to overtime pay, no health insurance, no sick leave, no pension, and
without the legal rights to form unions or to demand collective
bargaining with their employers, stemming from New Deal-era exclusions
of farm- and domestic workers from many of these basic labor and human
rights. The CIW-led Campaign for Fair Food, in which SFA is a key
catalyst, seeks to transform this reality by enlisting the resources of
retail food giants to improve farmworker wages and harnessing their
demand to reward growers who respect their workers' rights.
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The Student/Farmworker Alliance (http://sfalliance.org) is a national network comprised of students and youth across the country organizing in close alliance with the CIW. During the course of the four-year Taco Bell Boycott, which ended successfully in the 2005 CIW-Taco Bell agreement, SFA members organized to remove or prevent Taco Bell restaurants and sponsorships from 25 separate high schools, colleges and universities. SFA has received national recognition for its work including the "2005 Campus Activism Victory of the Year" from Mother Jones Magazine and special honors from the Greensboro Justice Fund, American Rights at Work, Business Ethics Network (2005 and 2009), and the National Latino/a Law Student Association. SFA is also a founding member of the Alliance for Fair Food, a broad network of human rights, religious, student, sustainable food/agriculture, labor, and other organizations working in partnership with the CIW.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (http://ciw-online.org) is an internationally recognized, award-winning farmworker organization based in southern Florida. It has assisted the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI in successfully investigating and prosecuting 6 cases of modern-day agricultural slavery and has been recognized with the 2007 Anti-Slavery International Award and the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. The CIW's Campaign for Fair Food has won unprecedented support for fundamental farm labor reforms from retail food industry leaders.