Meatpacking plants are making headlines as COVID-19 infection hot spots. Workers have been sounding the alarm, but without clear government rules on workplace safety in a pandemic, workers keep getting sick, and they’re facing repercussions for organizing to protect themselves.
Take action now to tell OSHA to issue and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect workers from COVID-19.
While working people are struggling to make ends meet, Amazon’s stockholders and owner, Jeff Bezos, are making a killing. Between mid-March and mid-April, Bezos’s personal fortune has grown $25 billion dollars as the company’s value has soared over $1.14 trillion. Despite massive earnings, Amazon workers continue to work for poverty wages, with few workplace protections and limited benefits. Amazon must be held accountable for the health and safety of its workers during this time of crisis!
As the current COVID-19 pandemic spreads around the globe, it is hitting hardest those already lacking access to the basics. Before the pandemic, cocoa farmers in West Africa were already struggling on an average of just $0.78/day. That kind of extreme poverty is no accident. It’s how Hershey’s managed to extract $1.15 BILLION in profits in 2019. That’s more per share than an average farmer earned in a week. Those profits and the already dire conditions for cocoa farmers means that it is high time Hershey’s pay cocoa farmers fairly and commit to more emergency relief for cocoa farmers.
The US Department of Agriculture is trying to slash wages for guest workers. The goal: drive down pay for essential farmworkers instead of safeguarding workers and farmers.
Farmworkers already get poverty wages, substandard housing, and few legal protections. Amidst a global pandemic, these essential workers need additional support, not a reduction in pay.
Small-scale farmers and food workers are essential to feeding our communities. That is why any future stimulus and pandemic relief bills passed by Congress must include their needs.
So far, stimulus money is at risk of funding more corporate agribusiness as usual. Instead, relief money should invest in community members, not corporations.
If you see an ad for “Fair Trade Denim Jeans,” you might assume it was made out of fair trade denim, using fair trade cotton. But Madewell and their parent company J. Crew are leading you on. The fair trade label they’re using just skims the surface of the complex fashion supply chain and only applies to the final stage of production.
Tell Madewell and J.Crew, drop the fairwashing and put your money where your marketing is. Commit to fair trade cotton and support small-scale farmers.
Workers have been found in slavery-like conditions on Brazilian plantations selling to Starbucks for the second time in nine months. Starbucks holds up their C.A.F.E. Practices standards as their commitment to source “99% ethical coffee.” But standards are glossing over a serious problem. Instead of making real change, Starbucks is trying to rebrand forced labor and slavery-like conditions as “ethical.” But we won’t let them get away with it.
It’s time for Starbucks to commit to real fair trade.
“With $0.90 per pound we cannot live.” That’s the message that the coffee farmers behind SPP Global sent to the global coffee industry in April. Coffee prices have hit historic lows over the past year and continue to stay there, well below the cost of production.
Add your name in solidarity with coffee farmers – no one should starve for coffee.
Tell Congress: The Green New Deal needs to include food and farming issues. Our food and farming systems are both a cause of climate change—and have the potential to be a transformative solution. Now is the time to make some fundamental changes to support regenerative farming and economic well-being for all.
Nestle has announced plans to build a $154-million-dollar coffee processing plant in Veracruz, Mexico and increase Robusta coffee production.
Add your voice the chorus of coffee farmers who are saying NO Instead, they are calling on the government to support farming communities and biodiversity, not Big Food and more monocrop plantations.
When you pick up a fair trade melon, or any fair trade product, you expect that it means the farmers or farmworkers who grew it were treated fairly. Unfortunately, that’s not currently the case. This spring, Fair Trade USA decided to certify multinational Fyffes’s Honduran melon plantation Suragroh despite ongoing human and labor rights violations.
Fifteen years of global grassroots organizing came a little closer to a victory last week when the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to adopt UN Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.
Climate change is not the only threat to cocoa farmers. Low and volatile prices are threatening farmers’ livelihoods in the short-term. Costco can have meaningful impact on the livelihoods of cocoa communities and the environment.
Leaders in all three participating countries are currently in talks to renegotiate NAFTA. Throughout the process, President Trump has periodically threatened to pull out all together. We do need strong international trade agreements, but we need them to be fair and fairly negotiated. Let Congress know you support a fair NAFTA.
The Farm Bill is a huge piece of legislation that guides close to $100 billion in spending each year in the food and agriculture system. It affects farmers and farming systems not only in the U.S. but all around the world and unfortunately too much of this money goes to support unhealthy food and destructive practices and not enough supports regenerative systems. It is renegotiated every five years and this is the year. Let Congress know you support a fair farm bill.
In 2017 the Small Producers Symbol issued a call to the fair trade movement to exclude those companies that reproduce traditional patterns of exploitation, abuse, and concentration of wealth and power and to keep fair trade a movement of democracy and solidarity centered around organized, small-scale producers. Sign the petition in solidarity with these fair trade farmers.
The Agricultural Worker Protection Standards are the EPA’s regulations that aim to reduce pesticide exposure among farmworkers and others who handle toxic chemicals. Although ideally we want to reduce and eliminate the use of these toxins, in the short term, we need to protect the workers who are required to handle them. These standards are now under threat. Let your Senators know you support strong pesticide regulation.
Over 40 million workers would benefit from increasing the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. Beneficiaries would be disproportionately workers of color and women and a significant portion of them are food system workers. Legislation introduced in 2017 to raise the wage to this level has been stuck in committee for over a year. Let Congress know that fair wages can’t wait!
PAST CAMPAIGNS AND ALERTS
Stop Fast Track
Fast Track is nickname for Trade Promotion Authority, the power Congress grants the President to negotiate a trade agreement which can later be approved or denied but not amended. Fast Track makes it more likely that a bad trade deal is approved. FWP advocates for fair and transparent negotiation processes for trade deals and opposes Fast Track. We facilitated thousands of letters asking Congress to withhold Fast Track authority ahead of the pending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Unfortunately, Fast Track passed, though there was not ultimately support for the TPP. See our Trade page to learn more about Free Trade vs. Fair Trade.
Make Fair Pricing Part of Strategy to Eliminate Child Labor
The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) calls itself the “leading organization promoting child protection in cocoa-growing communities.” With members like Mars, Hershey, Mondelez, Cargill, and Nestle, they have influence and resources backing them, yet they have not made sufficient progress in in eliminating and reducing child labor in cocoa and they have not included fair pricing as part of its strategy. Fair World Project generated over 10,000 letters to ICI asking them to do more to ensure fair prices for farmers and received this unsatisfactory response. Fair World Project continues to advocate for fair trade principles in the cocoa industry. See our Fair Food action page for more alerts designed to keep companies accountable to people over profits.
Fighting for Fair Trade Policies
In the period of 2012-2016, the U.S. was in talks to negotiate two massive trade agreements, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). FWP, along with a community of allies representing farm, labor, and environmental interests, continually expressed concerns about both the secret process by which these agreements were negotiated as well as the specific provisions that would harm farmers, workers, public health, and the environment. We facilitated letters to the President and Congress asking for transparency and fairness, participated in street actions and concerts, and published articles. We continue to advocate for all international trade agreements to be fair to all. You can learn more by watching our Free Trade vs. Fair Trade video.
Fair Trade is Movement, Not a Market Niche
As the fair trade market grows, more brands adopt fair trade labels without fully committing to the fair trade movement. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Honest Tea, and Starbucks are all major corporations that have advocating for unfair trade policies through membership in organizations like the Grocery Manufacturers Association or directly as members of corporate trade advisory committees. Unfair trade agreements harm small-scale farmers globally on a scale that is not mitigated by labeling a small amount of product fair trade. Over 10,000 consumers wrote to these companies asking them to end the hypocrisy and started advocated on behalf of farmers not against them. Unfortunately, none of these companies budged on their positions. FWP continues to advocate not only for fair trade policies but for companies using fair trade labels to make a full commitment to small-scale farmers.
Keeping Farmers in Poverty is Not OK
Small-scale cocoa farmers live in poverty as large multi-national chocolate companies profit. Chocolate is big business and U.S. consumers spend over $20 billion on chocolate each year. But the money is not reaching farmers. West African cocoa farmers live on less than $1/day as they farm just a few hectares on average. Mondelez, one of the largest chocolate companies with brands including Cadbury, Oreo, Chip Ahoy, and Toberlone has developed its own cocoa program called Cocoa Life, but has not incorporated a guaranteed fair price for farmers as a component nor does it include a democratically administered premium to give farmers control over needed funds to improve their farms and communities. In 2017 over 10,000 consumers signed a petition asking Mondelez to do better for farmers and their families and communities. While companies like Mondelez continue to undercut farmers, you can support fair brands that work directly with farmers in fair trade relationships.
Tell Starbucks to Speak Out Against Fair Trade
Over 5,000 people wrote to Starbucks in the spring and summer of 2015 asking them to speak out against Fast Track and the TPP and to use their influence to demand fair trade policies for farmers. After receiving unsatisfactory responses, many people also made follow up phone calls and Fair World Project wrote a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz. Starbucks has been unwilling to engage in this conversation and points only to their commitment to “ethical” purchases of coffee, apparently willfully ignorant of the fact that trade policies like the TPP have the potential to harm farmers beyond the point at which ethical purchasing can help. We hope that Starbucks will eventually take these concerns seriously. In the mean time, we continue to promote fair roasters who advocate for fair policies to supplement their fair buying relationships with farmers. See our coffee brand analysis to learn more.
Stop “Fair Trade” Coffee Plantations
After Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) opened up certification to coffee plantations, FWP facilitated a letter-writing campaign asking Starbucks and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, two of the largest roasters that are FTUSA licensees, to decline participation in this program. Thousands of concerned consumers sent letters to Starbucks and Green Mountain and directly to FTUSA. FTUSA continues to certify coffee plantations, creating unfair competition for the smallholders who lead the fair trade movement.
Join the Call for Seed Freedom and Food Democracy
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, invited President Obama to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26th 2015. In anticipation of this visit and in the context of the two countries’ varying views on seed freedom and food democracy, activist, author and physicist, Dr. Vandana Shiva penned an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Modi and President Obama on Seed Freedom and Food Democracy. Over 12,000 people signed on to our petition to support Dr. Shiva’s letter.
Synthetic Biology is Not “Natural”
As consumers, we trust that when a company calls itself natural and sustainable, its products won’t contain ingredients produced via genetic engineering or synthetic biology. When Method’s parent company, Ecover, announced that it would be introducing a new ingredient, synthetic biology-derived algal oil, into its products Fair World Project joined allies in asking Ecover and Method to halt use of this unregulated, experimental extreme genetic techniques.
Protect the Dreamers
U.S. trade policy has restructured the global economy, forcing changed migration patterns and variable economic opportunities. Yet our immigration policy hasn’t kept up with changing needs, especially for sectors like the food system that rely on immigrant labor. We facilitated thousands of leaders on behalf of the Dreamers—children brought to the U.S. by immigrant parents, and continue to fight for fair trade and immigration policies that meet the needs of working families and a sustainable food and agriculture system.
Toxic Pesticides Have No Place in a Just Food System
The EPA has all the information it needs to ban chlorpyrifos and other toxic pesticides like it and a bill was introduced into Senate to do just that. FWP facilitated over 7500 letters in support of this ban and will continue to advocate for a less toxic, more just food system and the prohibition of chlorpyrifos and other pesticides like it.
Major Food Retailers: Be Leaders in Farmworker Justice
Major retailers like Safeway, Trade Joe’s, and Kroger are talking more and more about sustainability but have yet to include farmworker justice as a core part of their business model or sustainability plan. Thousands of consumers sent letters to these retailers asking them to be leaders on farmworker justice. We continue to advocate for farmworker justice and encourage all farms, brands, and retailers to make this a priority. Read our Who Grew My Food fact sheet to learn more and get involved.
The Pledge to Tell Walmart to Be Fair
For International Food Workers Week 2013, nearly 5,000 people signed our pledge to stand in solidarity with Walmart employees and the workers and farmers who supply them, in the face of chronic mistreatment and unfair payment by Walmart. Since then, Walmart has shown some hope for improvement by signing the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food agreement, but that only helps workers in one supply chain. We continue to work within the Food Chain Workers Alliance and with other allies to advocate for more widespread change at this mega retailer.