“There are a lot of organizations doing political organizing, but I think we’re working on something different here in terms of talking about it as a community. It really struck home for me when we had the Shabbat dinner for gay and lesbian marriage.”
"One More Penny Per Pound!"
Every year, our Hey class (fifth graders) takes to the streets to protest a labor injustice. After learning about the textile sweatshops where many of their ancestors toiled after immigrating to the US, the students learn that similar injustices still exist today. Sorry, kiddos – we haven’t perfected the world yet! But as we teach our fifth graders, there’s something you can do to make the world a better place, and it’s called organizing.
This year and last, the Hey class has joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to fight for better working conditions in the tomato fields of Florida, where workers earn sub-poverty wages and no benefits whatsoever. What would better conditions look like? The CIW wants a wage increase, a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process. Launched in 2001, the “Campaign for Fair Food” has celebrated numerous victories, including last year’s monumental declaration of support from the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. Over the years, nine multi-billion dollar food retailers, including Whole Foods Market, McDonald's, Subway, Burger King, and Taco Bell, have also signed on to the campaign.
But the campaign is not over. Without the full participation of corporate buyers, the CIW will not have the leverage it needs to guarantee that all workers gain the justice they deserve. Several supermarkets have stubbornly refused to work with the CIW, including this year’s target, Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s might have snazzy Hawaiian shirts and tasty snacks, but their refusal to sit down with the CIW farm workers is neither stylish nor appetizing.
“One more penny per pound!” is our rallying cry. Join the Hey class and other Workmen’s Circle supporters as we chant this message together on Sunday, December 11th, 1:15pm at the Trader Joe’s on Memorial Drive in Cambridge.
More resources on the issue:
- Trader Joe's "Note to Our Customers"
- The CIW's "Fact Check" sheet in response to Trader Joe's letter to its customers