Thursday, July 29, 2010

"No Coast Encuentro"

-español abajo-
Friday October 15 - Sunday October 17
Auraria Campus, downtown Denver, CO

Encuentro: a gathering, an encounter
The "No Coast Encuentro" is a gathering of activists and allies from throughout the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, Southwest, Midwest and beyond who are working in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the fight for farmworker justice. Happening about 5280 ft. above sea level in the Mile High City, the encuentro is a chance for all those far from either coast to get involved in the Campaign for Fair Food - the growing movement of consumers and farmworkers fighting together to end the human rights abuses occurring in the tomato supply chains of the corporate food industry.

Register Online!

Students and young people, community members, people of faith, labor organizers, food justice activists and concerned consumers - whether new to the cause or a seasoned veteran - all are welcome to participate in the encuentro.

REGISTRATION: Please fill out the registration form which will help us plan for the program, food and housing. There is a $10-$50 sliding-scale registration fee. We wouldn't ask for money if we didn't need it. Partial travel scholarships may possibly be available - please let us know if you have exhausted fundraising options and have a scholarship need.

Click here to register online!

HIGHLIGHTS from the weekend will include:
- Education & Dialogue: The inspiring story of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; Nuts and bolts of the Campaign for Fair Food; What does solidarity look like?; and more.
- Skill-building Workshops: organizing; popular education; media; and more.
- Action: The encuentro will kick off with a protest outside Quiznos headquarters at 11:30!
- Strategy Sessions: Strategizing how to win campaigns against Kroger supermarkets, Chipotle, Quzinos and other targets.
- Concrete Plans: We'll make concrete plans for action to bring back to our communities, to work together regionally, and to advance the Campaign for Fair Food.
- Movement Building: building relationships, exploring how our struggles interconnect with other struggles for social justice, and partying!

See the full schedule here!

Friday and Saturday night Entertainment!


The Encuentro will kick off with an action outside the headquarters of Quiznos at 11:30 on Friday - 1001 17th St. (more info here). Encuentro participants are welcome and encouraged to arrive Thursday night if possible. Please plan on arriving by at least 12noon on Friday and plan on leaving no earlier than 1:00pm on Sunday.

Housing & meals will be available for the entire Encuentro (Thursday evening to mid-day Sunday). Most housing will be gender-neutral floor space. If you need a bed or have other special housing needs, please let us know.

Most of the Encuentro will occur on Auraria Campus in downtown Denver. Transportation to and from the airport can be arranged by contacting us.

What to bring:
- Your energy and your willingness to contribute, be challenged, learn, and have fun.
- Your commitment to take the campaign back to your community. Rather than a general activist conference, the Encuentro is a training & strategy opportunity for folks committed to working on CIW-led campaigns over the next year and beyond.
- Musical instruments, art, poetry; flyers & literature (and merchandise) from other struggles to share; washable bowl, cup and utensils.
- Sleeping bag and pillow (plus sleeping pad if needed), towel and personal items; your registration fee (in cash, check or money order), a bit of spending money for the trip (& for t-shirts).
- Respect for the local people and the spaces at which we stay and meet. Many of the spaces we will be occupying are drug- and alcohol-free and you are expected to abide by such rule. Likewise, while there will no doubt be time and space to party, the main purpose of the gathering is to engage in serious work, not to hang out or "get wasted."

Volunteering: Participants will be expected to help with basic tasks to keep our dishes and meeting spaces clean, our meals coming on time, and the weekend running smoothly overall.


The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a grassroots organization of immigrant farmworkers from Mexico, Guatemala and Haiti based in Florida which is fighting to end sweatshop-conditions in the agricultural industry. Farmworkers who pick tomatoes in Florida earn sub-poverty wages, are denied fundamental labor rights and perform dangerous, back-breaking work. In the most extreme cases, farmworkers are held and forced to work against their will in situations of modern-day slavery.

Working with a broad alliance of youth activists, people of faith, labor and community groups around the country, the CIW has led successful campaigns against some of largest food corporations in the world including McDonald's, Yum! Brands, Burger King, Subway, Aramark, and Whole Foods. The hard-fought campaigns have resulted in ground-breaking improvements for the workers who pick tomatoes bought by these giant corporations, directly increasing wages, establishing enforceable human rights standards, and providing a voice for workers in the protection of their own rights. This movement of consumers and farmworkers fighting together to end human rights abuses in the tomato supply chains of major food corporations - known as the Campaign for Fair Food - continues to surge forward.

As the Campaign for Fair Food focuses more on the supermarket industry and regional targets, it is more important than ever to redouble our efforts. As regional allies, our organizing is vital to the success of the broader campaign and meeting face-to-face at the encuentro will lay the ground work for that organizing. In addition to planning strategy and sharpening our organizing skills, we hope to provide a space for discussion and reflection about the meaning of solidarity and the nature of our work in light of interlocking systems of oppression.

The "No Coast Encuentro" is a vital opportunity to become stronger as a movement! With your commitment, we know this weekend will serve not only as an inspiration but as a springboard for effective action for social change throughout the next year and beyond! So come on out, whether you're an "old-timer" in the campaign or just beginning to get involved.

Hosted by Denver Fair Food and the Student/Farmworker Alliance
Contact for more info.
El "Encuentro Sin Costa"
Viernes, 15 de octubre – Domingo, 17 de octubre
Campus de Auraria, el centro de Denver, CO

Encuentro: una reunión, una conferencia
El “Encuentro Sin Costa” es una reunión de activistas y aliados/as de las Montañas Rocosas, las Grandes Llanuras, el Suroeste, el Medio Oeste y más lejos, quienes están trabajando en solidaridad con la Coalición de Trabajadores de Immokalee en la lucha por la justicia para los/las trabajadores/as agrícolas. Sucediendo aproximadamente 5280 pies sobre el nivel del mar en la Ciudad a la Altura de una Milla, el encuentro es una oportunidad para los/las que están lejos/as de cualquier litoral para involucrarse en la Campaña por Comida Justa – el movimiento creciente de consumidores/as y trabajadores/as agrícolas luchando juntos para terminar los abusos en contra de los derechos humanos, los que están ocurriendo en las cadenas del suministro de los jitomates de la industria corporativa de comida.

¡Registrarse en línea!

Estudiantes y personas jovenes, miembros de la comunidad, gente de fe, organizadores/as de trabajadores/as, activistas por la comida justa y consumidores/as preocupados/as – si son nuevos/as a la causa o veteranos/as experimentados/as – todos/as son bienvenidos/as a participar en el encuentro.

REGISTRACIÓN: Por favor, rellene el formulario de registración, lo que nos ayuda en planear el programa, la comida y el alojamiento. Hay un precio para registrar de escala móvil de $10 - $50. No pediríamos dinero si no lo necesitaramos. Es posible que habrá becas para una parte del costo de viajar – por favor, déjenos saber si ha agotado todas sus opciones para recaudar fondos y tiene una necesidad para una beca.

¡Haz clic aquí para registrarse en línea!

Los MEJORES MOMENTOS del fin de semana incluirán:
- Educación y Diálogo: La historia inspirante de la Coalición de Trabajadores de Immokalee; los aspectos prácticos de la Campaña por Comida Justa; ¿Cómo parece la solidaridad?; y más.
- Talleres para desarrollar sus habilidades: organizando; educación popular; medios de comunicación; y más.
- Acción: ¡El encuentro empezará con una manifestación enfrente de la sede de Quiznos a las 11:30!
- Sesiones sobre la Estrategia: Planificar una estrategia para que salgamos victoriosos en campañas contra los supermercados de Kroger, Chipotle, Quiznos y otros objetivos.
- Planes Concretos: Vamos a hacer planes concretos para acción para llevar a nuestras comunidades, para trabajar juntos en nuestra región, y para avanzar la Campaña por Comida Justa.
- Desarrollo del Movimiento: desarrollando relaciones, explorando como son interconectadas nuestras luchas por la justicia social con otras y ¡festejando!


El encuentro empezará con una manfiestación afuera de la sede de Quiznos el viernes a las 11:30 – 1001 17th St. (Más detalles serán anunciados). Los participantes del encuentro son bienvenidos y animados a llegar el jueves por la noche, si será posible. Por favor, planee llegar, por lo menos, antes de las 12(mediodía) el viernes y no planeas salir antes de la 1:00pm el domingo.

Alojamiento y comida serán disponibles para todo el encuentro (desde la tarde el jueves hasta mediodía el domingo). La mayoría del alojamiento será espacio del suelo de género-neutral. Si necesita una cama o tiene necesidades especiales en cuanto al alojamiento, por favor, déjenos saber.

La mayoría del encuentro pasará en el Campus de Auraria en el centro de Denver. Si requiere transporte hacia y desde al aeropuerto, lo puede organizar por contactarnos.

Lo que necesita traer:
- Su energía y buena disposición para contribuir, ser desafiado/a, aprender y divirtirse.
- Su compromiso para llevar esa campaña a su comunidad. En vez de ser una conferencia general para la activista, este encuentro es un entrenamiento y oportunidad para la estrategia para los que son comprometidos/as a trabajar en campañas conducidas por la Coalición de Trabajadores de Immokalee (CIW – según sus siglas en inglés) por el año que viene y pasada a ese año.
- Instrumentos musicales, arte, poesía, folletos y literatura (y mercancías generales) de otras luchas para compartir; plato, vaso y utensilios lavables.
- Saco de dormir y almohada (más un colchón como para camping si sea necesario), toalla y artículos personales; su pago de registración (en efectivo, cheque u ordén de dinero), dinero por los gastos en su viaje (y por playeras).
- Respeto para la gente local y para los lugares en los que quedamos y juntamos. Muchos de los espacios en los que vamos a estar son libres de drogas y alcohol y Ud. es esperado/a a acatar las reglas. También, mientras que habrá sin dudo tiempo y espacio para festejar, el propósito principal de esta reunión es participar en trabajo serio y no pasar tiempo con sus amigos ni emborracharse.

Ser Voluntario/a: Participantes serán esperados ayudar con la tarea básica para mantener nuestros trastes y espacios de reunión limpios, para asegurar que la comida llega a tiempo, y para ayudar en que el fin de semana funciona sin problemas.


La Coalición de Trabajadores de Immokalee (CIW) es una organización basada en Florida de base comunitaria de trabajadores/as inmigrantes de México, Guatemala y Haiti, la que está luchando para terminar condiciones de fabricas explotadoras en la industria agrícola. Trabajadores/as agrícolas quienes recogen jitomates en Florida ganan ingresos bajo del nivel de la pobreza, son denegados/as a sus derechos fundamentales como trabajadores/as y cumplen trabajo peligroso y extenuante. En los casos más extremos, los/las trabajadores/as agrícolas son detenidos/as y forzados/as a trabajar contra su voluntad en situaciones de esclavitud moderna.

Trabajando con una alianza diversa de activistas jovenes, personas de fe, y grupos de la comunidad y del trabajo por todo el país, CIW ha conducido campañas exitosas contra unas de las corporaciones de comida más grandes del mundo, incluyendo a McDonald's, Yum! Brands, Burger King, Subway, Aramark y Whole Foods. Como consequencia de estas campañas reñidas hemos visto mejoramientos inovadores para los/las trabajadores/as quienes recogen jitomates comprados por estas corporaciones gigantes, directamente aumentando los salarios, estableciendo criterio, lo que es capaz de obligar, sobre los derechos humanos, y proporcionando una voz para los/las trabajadores/as para proteger sus propios derechos. Este movimiento de consumidores/as y trabajadores/as agrícolas trabajando juntos para terminar los abusos en contra de los derechos humanos en las cadenas del suministro de jitomates de las corporaciones importantes de comida – conocida como la Campaña por Comida Justa – sigue hacia adelante.

Mientras la Campaña por Comida Justa enfoque más en la industria del supermercado y objetivos regionales, es más importante que antes redoblar nuestros esfuerzos. Como aliados/as de la misma región, organizar juntos es vital para el éxito de la campaña más amplia y reunir cara a cara en el encuentro allanará el camino para organizar así. A parte de planear estrategia y agudizar nuestras habilidades para organizar, esperamos proveer un espacio para la discusión y la reflexión sobre el significado de solidaridad y la clase de nuestro trabajo en cuanto a los sistemas interconectados de opresión.

¡El Encuentro “Sin Costa” es una oportunidad vital para hacerse a ser un movimiento más fuerte! Con su compromiso, sabemos que este fin de semana servirá no solo como una inspiración, pero también como un trampolín para acción eficaz en cuanto al cambio social por el año que viene y ¡pasada a ese año! Entonces, que venga, sin importancia si sea “abuelo/a” en la campaña o acabe de empezar a involucrarse.

Presentado por la Comida Justa de Denver y la Alianza de Estudiantes y Trabajadores Agrícolas
Ponerse en contacto con para más información.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Action Alert! Stop "Secure Communities"!

Every now and then, a local issue comes up which, despite not directly having to do with the main topic of this blog, is so important that it feels imperative to publicize it. So is the case with now: the Department of Homeland Security is trying to force Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to sign a "Memorandum of Agreement" to implement DHS's "Secure Communities" program in Colorado. The Orwellian-named "Secure Communities" is really a repressive program which will allow the governement to further intrude into our lives and further terrorize those of us who come from immigrant communities. Below is an action alert calling on everyone to call Governor Ritter and encourage him NOT to sign "Secure Communities."


Governor Ritter is considering signing Colorado onto "Secure Communities", a dangerous collaboration program between ICE and the state which will hurt our communities and create greater fear of law enforcement.

"Secure Communities" is a program that allows state and local police to check the fingerprints of an individual they are booking into a jail against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration databases. If there is a "hit" in an immigration database, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is automatically notified, even if the person has not been convicted of any criminal act.

CALL GOVERNOR RITTER TODAY and every day this week @ (303) 866-2471

STOP Secure Communities NOW!
It makes us all UNSAFE.


YOU could say: I do NOT agree with Secure Communities. I am calling asking Governor Ritter NOT to sign onto Secure Communities.


Governor Bill Ritter is considering signing onto a program called Secure Communities by July 19.

We have many concerns about this program:

- That it will negatively impact trust between the police and community making us all less safe.

- Unlike SB 90, a bill passed in 2006 in Colorado, Secure Communities does not exclude wrongfully arrested victims or witnesses of crime from being reported to ICE.

- While the state of Colorado can terminate the Secure Communities agreement at any time, Local jurisdictions (such as Denver, Fort Collins, Arapahoe County, etc) have no clear way of opting out of, or withdrawing from, the program if without possibly being in violation of this agreement.

- Cost and impact data from other states has not been tracked by ICE nor shared with the State of Colorado.


Please CALL GOVERNOR RITTER TODAY and every day this week @ (303) 866-2471

YOU could say: I do NOT agree with Secure Communities. I am calling to ask Governor Ritter NOT to sign onto Secure Communities.

See the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Resource on Problems with Secure Communities for more information.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Eight, and counting...

Last week, important - and frankly distrubing - news broke. Here's the announcement from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers:

DOJ officials announce yet another prosecution for forced labor in Florida fields, eighth since 1997;

Gainesville Sun: "... dozens of Haitian nationals were the victims of human trafficking... when they were delivered to rural Alachua County and forced to work on area farms."

From yesterday's Gainesville Sun ("Three charged with human trafficking on Alachua County farms," 7/6/10):

"... Federal prosecutors allege in the indictment that once the Haitian workers arrived in Miami they were denied access to their own passports and visas, effectively preventing them from going anywhere other than the farms where they were to work.

The indictment also alleges that the workers were underfed, "supplied substandard housing and few beds, and denied necessary medical care, causing the workers to suffer chronic hunger, weight loss, illnesses and fatigue."

At least one worker told investigators about being forced to work in fields recently sprayed with chemicals so harsh they left her with permanent scars.

According to the indictment, those who complained about the conditions were threatened with being deported and became fearful of the three co-conspirators." read more
Perhaps even more remarkable than the charges was the response of the grower, vegetable farmer Steven Davis of Alachua County, to the possibility of losing the services of his longtime farm labor manager, Cabioch Bontemps. Despite the gravity of the charges against Bontemps, here's what Davis told the court (from the same Gainesville Sun article):

"... During Bontemps' court hearing, his longtime employer, Alachua County farmer Steven Davis, urged Mickle to release Bontemps because he is an integral part of the Steven Davis Farms pea and bean harvesting operations - - and this is the peak season for harvesting.

Davis identified his operations as being headquartered at 1102 N.W. County Road 233 and said that Bontemps has been a part-time worker for 14 or 15 years and an important full-time worker for the past two-and-a-half to three years. According to Davis, the Haitians currently working on the 2,000 to 3,000 acres he is farming this year all report to Bontemps.

"All these people (Haitian workers) look up to him," Davis said "All these people respect him. All these people worship him."

The federal indictment also identified Bontemps as, "the man who raped one of the workers and told her not to say anything or he would make sure she would not be allowed to return to the U.S. in subsequent years."

Also telling about this latest prosecution is the fact that it took place in the H2A, or "guestworker," context.

Under the H2A program, agricultural employers bring foreign workers into the country under temporary visas to work exclusively on the petitioning employer's farm. Guestworkers remain in the country only at the pleasure of their employer, they cannot change jobs, and they are obliged to return to their home country once their employer is finished with them, or face deportation. This arrangement places a tremendous amount of power over workers' lives in the hands of their employers, and in agriculture, this has frequently resulted in cases of extreme exploitation.

The CIW has long decried the potential for abuse inherent in the guestworker program. Here's an excerpt from a 2004 statement on a possible expansion of the H2A program under then-President Bush:

"... Not surprisingly, guestworker programs have been tried before, and they have failed miserably, often with tragic consequences. Between 1942 and 1964, for example, millions of Mexican workers were imported under an agricultural guestworker program (known as the ”Bracero” program) to work temporarily under contract to US growers and ranchers. The program was scuttled in 1964 after years of scandalous labor abuses. Europe, too, experimented with guestworker programs, which also ended in failure years ago.

Abuses such as those that eventually killed the Bracero program are inevitable, as the guestworker relationship is an extremely coercive form of labor relations. As a guestworker, not only does your employer hold your livelihood in his hands, but he also holds your visa, your very right to be in this country. With so much power concentrated under the employers’ control, it is hardly surprising that an inordinate number of recent prosecutions for modern-day slavery and forced labor have involved guestworkers, with cases ranging from New Hampshire to American Samoa. Indeed, the President’s proposal could well undermine efforts to fight slavery more broadly, as giving employers such wide control over their workers’ lives is a proven recipe for exploitation." read more
News of this latest slavery prosecution serves as a timely reminder of the dangers intrinsic to any plan to expand the current agricultural guestworker program (and in the current debate over immigration reform, there are many such plans in the works).

But, more broadly, it also underscores the urgent need for broad-based labor reforms in Florida agriculture. Stories of extreme exploitation are so tragically commonplace in Florida's fields that, rather than hear them as a call to action, we run the risk of growing inured to the abuse, each case of forced labor losing a measure of its ability to spark outrage and action.

We cannot let that happen. We must redouble our efforts to make this latest prosecution - now the eighth since 1997 - the last prosecution for forced labor in this state.

And food industry leaders - companies like Publix, Ahold, Quiznos, Sodexo, Kroger, and WalMart - must also, finally, heed this call, recognize once and for all the overwhelming case for change, and commit to work with us to bring about a more modern, more humane agricultural industry in Florida.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Quiznos and Krogers and Sodexo, oh my!

In these dog days of summer, there is lots of news in the Campaign for Fair Food. It seems that the corporate giants who've been profiting from farmworker poverty think that, just because the tempuratures are soaring, they can lounge around ignoring our demands as if this were some 4th of July BBQ. We wanted to give an update about what's happening with some of the companies that do business here in Denver which are campaign targets.

Quiznos still feeling the heat

Quiznos - whose headquarters are in downtown Denver - told us several weeks ago that the company was in discussions with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and hopeful about the prospect of an agreement. However, we're still waiting for Quiznos to turn discussions into concrete commitments. But that doesn't mean we're sitting on our hands. Our allies in Tampa, Florida and Mission, Texas have visited open houses at which Quiznos was trying to recruit new franchisees. Allies shared a strong message with the Quiznos representatives, put simply in the words of the Fair Foodistas from Texas' Rio Grande Valley pictured above, "Quit stalling!" Meanwhile, many others have been delivering letters to the managers of their local Quiznos restaurant, a simple action which anybody can take part in.

Download the Quiznos manager letter here!

Kroger ain't being cool

On another front, at the annual stockholder meeting for Kroger (one of the largest supermarket chains in the country and parent company of Denver's own King Soopers), Kroger CEO David Dillon was presented with evidence that his comany was sourcing tomatoes from Pacific Tomato Growers, one of the farms where enslaved workers from the Navarette Case were forced to pick tomatoes. He was then questioned as to why Kroger has not choosen to work with the CIW like so many other major food retailers in order to put an end to such abuses. Dillon's response is perhaps the most pathetic attempt yet to defend a company's social irresponsibility. He pointed to the company's supplier code of conduct and its provision prohibiting forced labor (apparently without irony...), and then closed with the patently ludicrous statement that Kroger thinks "we can make more progress... working directly with the growers than we can by working with a third party." As the CIW joke about the explanation on their website: "Dillon then went on to say that criminals should police themselves, professional athletes should call their own games, and, of course, foxes should guard the henhouse... (OK, he didn't say those other things... but he might as well have)." (See the full story under the June 26, 2010 post.)

The absurdity of it all - first, defending your company's position by saying you already have a policy forbidding slavery in your suppliers' operations despite that you were just presented with evidence that slavery was occurring in one of your suppliers' operations; and then claiming that working with growers (who have not only allowed abuses to flourish for decades, indeed centuries, but who in fact have actively fought against progress toward a more just agricultural industry in Florida) is a better strategy then working with a grassroots, highly-respected human rights organization (aka "a third party") that has been recogized by the RFK Memorial Center, Anti-Slavery International and even most recently the US State Department for its unparalleled expertise, experience and success in combatting slavery in the US - deserves more scrutiny. Perhaps that will happen in a future post. But for now, if you think this is as ludicrous as we do, take a moment the next time you go to King Soopers to delivery a letter to the manager expressing your outrage.

Download the Kroger Manager Letter here!

Sodexo getting into hot water

Finally, international food service corporation Sodexo - who has contracts with schools through Colorado including ALL of Denver's major college campuses - has still not signed an agreement with the CIW. Since just April of last year, the SFA has helped the CIW secure Fair Food agreements with three of the foodservice industry's four leading companies -- Bon Appetit, Compass, and Aramark. Each of those agreements has helped raise the bar toward ever stronger, more enduring human rights standards for farmworkers in Florida's tomato fields. But Sodexo remains, stubborn and alone, standing against the tide of change. As this past school year wound down, students on campuses across the country where Sodexo operates began to set their sights on the foodservice giant, as evidenced the petition drive of students at New College in Florida. With students like those at New College refusing to take no for an answer, and the SFA readying for its annual student Encuentro in Immokalee ahead of the coming school year, this fall promises to be a hot one for Sodexo wherever it does business on college campuses.

Click here for more on how you can help make the SFA's "Dine with Dignity" campaign an unqualified success.