Justice for Workers Has No Boundaries

David Bacon Illegal People “We come to the US to work because we can’t get a price for our product at home. There’s no alternative.”
Rufino Dominguez, Director of the Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants

Lately we’ve been getting more and more questions about whether we support undocumented workers in labor disputes. The short answer is we will stand up to fight against human rights abuses no matter where they occur. These are two separate issues and there is no justification for abuse of human rights and dignity.

But there is a more complicated story too, which is that there are many reasons why people cross borders to look for work even if the law is not on their side. Many of these reasons have to do with policies regulating trade, agriculture, or immigration that are harmful to most workers and families. David Bacon explains these connections well in a recent article in our own publication For a Better World.

He also explains these ideas in this video interview he gave after he wrote his previous book Illegal People.

That is why alongside advocating for justice directly for workers and farmers we advocate for better policies under which all people may thrive.

10th Issue of For a Better World Now Available

In this issue, we cover topics that are affecting everyone around the globe. With record- breaking heat waves, droughts, floods and super storms around the world, we focus our cover story on food, farming and climate change – and how small-scale farmers hold the power to mitigate climate change while feeding the world. Our cover artwork, created by Favianna Rodriguez, renowned artist and cultural organizer, depicts farmers who feed the world through regenerative organic growing methods.

While small farms are by and large more productive than big farms, we are fast losing small farms and farmers in many places, as big farms are getting bigger. Together, we can change this by standing with small- scale farmers and supporting brands that are dedicated to building strong relation- ships with them. We introduce some of these brands in our cover story, on our back cover, and in our regular in-depth brand feature article highlighting the success of Trade Aid, New Zealand’s largest committed fair trade brand.

Additional articles cover farmers fighting for justice in Washington state, the skyrocketing rates of herbicide and insecticide use on GMO crops and the role of pro-GMO media in suppressing this information, Dr. Vandana Shiva’s call for seed freedom and food democracy, and a new international fair trade labeling guide to help clarify the eco-social certification landscape. Two additional articles focus on policy, one examining the links between free trade agreements and migration from the Global South, and another examining how “ag-gag” laws prevent whistleblowers from exposing abuses and crimes on factory farms.

Find our publication at your local fair trade store, natural food store, or co-op grocer, or at larger natural foods chains such as Whole Foods Markets.

Posted on March 2nd 2015

Pressure On Companies Works So Let’s Step It Up

Last week two separate news stories highlighted the fact that large corporations do make changes under pressure.

Nestle announced they will start removing artificial colors and flavors from their candy. And Wal-Mart announced they will gave a half million employees raises, paying a minimum of $10/hour by next February.

Wal-Mart workers have been tireless in their efforts to push the company to pay better and they have finally succeeded. Nestle has recognized that consumers want to avoid the unhealthiest ingredients even in their treats. These were causes of celebration last week.

But this week it is time to get back to work. These are powerful examples of internal (Wal-Mart’s own employees) and external (pressure from Nestle’s consumers) can create change, but in neither case is this enough.

Ten dollars an hour is still a poverty wage for many working families, especially when hours and schedules are variable and unpredictable. And these wages don’t even go into effect for another year.

In the case of Nestle, not all “natural” flavors are healthier than artificial ones. Natural vanilla flavoring doesn’t mean flavor from a vanilla bean. See for example this good overview of where natural flavors come from, including the example of natural vanilla flavor made from beaver anal secretions. And now vanilla made from synthetic biology (“synbio”) is hitting the market and may be labeled as natural, even though most consumers do not think of genetically altered algae eating sugar and spitting components of vanilla flavoring as very natural. (See the article on synbio vanilla by Dana Perls of Friends of the Earth in our last publication for more on the threats of synbio vanilla on farmers and the environment.)

The take away? Pressure works and now we need to step it up.


Posted on February 24th 2015