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The World Speaks Out Against Unfair Trade

Global Day of ActionWe’ve talked a lot about Fast Track over the last few years. Fast Track gives the President authority to negotiate and sign NAFTA-like “free” trade agreements without a full debate in Congress or constituent input. The two agreements in the pipeline are the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement involving a dozen countries along the Pacific Rim collectively representing about 40% of global trade, and TTIP-the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, an agreement between the European Union and the United States with impacts far beyond those borders. NAFTA was a disaster for working families, small-scale farmers in all participating countries, and the environment, and these agreements are expected to be a repeat but on a much larger scale.

Because of the enormity of these agreements and their potential negative impact, there has been a tremendous amount of opposition to Fast Track in both the general public and within Congress. Previous attempts to introduce such legislation have been stalled. Yet Congress and lobbyist are gearing up to introduce Fast Track again.

But opponents are gearing up too. In November, Fair World Project participated in a week of action to Stop Fast Track and we facilitated sending 10,000 letters to Congress asking Senators and Representatives to oppose Fast Track. Combined with the thousands of letters facilitated by our allies, this sent a clear message to Congress.

It’s time to do it again now. Fair World Project has joined other organizations around the country and globe, endorsing the National Day of Action Against Fast Track and the Global Day of Action Against Unfair Trade on April 18, 2015.

Here’s how you can get involved.

  • If you have not yet written to your representatives in Congress, it’s not too late. Let them know you want fair trade not free trade!
  • Find or organize an event in your community! Congress needs to hear from you but they also need to see you in the streets and this is a great way to raise awareness in your community about what is happening and how these agreements will affect all of us. You can also register your event globally.
  • Congress has the power to vote for or against Fast Track, but much of the pressure to negotiate these free trade agreements comes from multi-national companies and their corporate lobbyists who are interested in making trade more profitable to their own company, no matter what the cost to the farmers, workers, and small businesses along the way. For this reason, we also need to more businesses to step up and oppose Fast Track. Some of the most logical companies to do this are those who have shown their care about fair trade for farmers by adopting fair trade marketing schemes, like Starbucks, the coffee giant. Tell Starbucks to oppose Fast Track and insist on fair trade products and policies.

 

Finally, help us spread the word by sharing this post and the action ideas and let’s hope the next day of action is a celebration of fair trade and not an opposition to unfair trade!

Posted on April 1st 2015

El Salvador Farmers Successfully Defy Monsanto

armers drive through the "coffee lands" of El Salvador, November 6, 2013. (Photo: Stuart)

Farmers drive through the “coffee lands” of El Salvador, November 6, 2013. (Photo: Stuart)

The perils of ingesting food that has any contact with a Monsanto-produced product are in the news on nearly a weekly basis.  As Dr. Jeff Ritterman has documented, Monstanto’s herbicide, Roundup, has been linked to a fatal kidney disease epidemic, and has also been repeatedly linked to cancer.  Recently, a senior research scientist at MIT predicted that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, will cause half of all children to have autism by 2025.

Read the full story here.

Consumers Stand in Solidarity With Farmworkers; Ask Driscoll’s to do the Same

Strike at the Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm in WashingtonFamilias Unidas por la Justicia started to make news back in 2013 when they organized six strikes at the Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm in Washington, though the struggle of workers there was already at least a decade long. Farmworkers in the United States face notoriously dangerous working conditions for low pay and are housing, when offered, is poor and often unsanitary. Conditions at the Sakuma Brothers Farm were no different and workers there had finally had enough.

The first series of farmworker initiated boycotts, beginning in July 2013, yielded temporary increases in pay, payment of back wages, and some other concessions such as new bedding. But the early successes did not hold and farmworkers have yet to gain a fairly negotiated lasting contract with the farm.

Because conditions have yet to improve despite these strikes, the farmworkers have expanded their call to action to include a boycott of berries produced on the farm, including those sold under the Driscoll’s brand name. This is an extreme measure that workers undertook only as a last resort.

Despite Driscoll’s stated commitment to communities and sustainability, rather than insist Sakuma Brothers negotiate with their employees, workers on the farm report that Driscoll’s has actually increased purchases of these berries since the boycott began. Local stores in the Washington region have already stopped purchasing Sakuma Brothers berries under any name, but now organizers are calling for a national boycott of all Driscoll’s brand berries until Driscoll’s lives up to their commitment by suspending purchases of Sakuma Brothers berries until they negotiate a fair and binding contract with farmworkers.

Fair World Project has joined the farmworkers’ call and organized a letter to Driscoll’s asking them to insist Sakuma Brothers negotiate a fair and legally binding contract with their farmworkers. This letter, in which consumers not only express solidarity with farmworkers, but also pledge to boycott Driscoll’s until this is resolved, was signed by nearly 10,000 consumers and mailed directly to Driscoll’s CEO.

Consumers who missed the chance to sign the letter or who are looking to get more involved can still take action by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper calling attention to this situation. Also talk to the produce manager at your local store and let them know your concerns.

Here are some other resources:

Posted on March 24th 2015