News Archives

Worker-driven Social Responsibility

Labor expert: “There’s no reason this model can’t work across the United States…”

“A SHIFT IN THOUGHT: Florida’s tomato pickers took on some of the country’s biggest retailers and fast-food chains – and won, transforming working conditions in the tomato fields. Now they and their allies are trying to take the fight to new fields and new industries.”  Christian Science Monitor article on CIW’s Worker-driven Social Responsibility modelIn two days, workers from Immokalee and their allies will pack up piles of protest art and provisions for two weeks on the road as they head out on the big Return to Human Rights Tour.  Along the way they will stop in over a dozen cities, […]

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ANALYSIS: Lofty goals… or empty promises?

First draft of new industry-led initiative charts uncertain course toward “responsible labor practices” in US produce sector…Brief: There’s nothing like the “power of the purchasing order” for turning standards on paper into reality on the ground when violations of a code of conduct occur, and there’s nothing resembling that sort of market consequence with real teeth — yet — built into the produce industry’s recently released “Ethical Charter.”  Genuine, informed worker participation and real enforcement mechanisms will be imperative going forward if this new initiative is to have any hope of success in bringing meaningful human rights protections to the US and Mexican […]

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Fair Food Program receives highest recommendation in newly released evaluation of seven food justice certification programs!

Fair World Project — a project of the Organic Consumers Association, the nation’s largest network of green and ethical consumers — releases powerful new report looking into the standards, enforcement, and impact of best-known certification programs…The CIW’s Fair Food Program received the highest recommendation in a new study of seven of the leading certification programs in the country carried out by Fair World Project, a project of the Organic Consumers Association.  The report “strongly recommends” the Fair Food Program, along with the Agricultural Justice Project, “for their strength in key areas as well as for their involvement of workers in all levels of the […]

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CIW Education team wraps up second summer of Fair Food Program education beyond Florida…

Nearly 1,000 tomato harvesters trained as frontline monitors of their own rights under the Fair Food Program in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey… Following June’s worker-to-worker education trip to Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, the CIW education team continued its trek north and wrapped up 2016’s northern education season this month with a tour of tomato farms in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey, where they trained hundreds of new workers on their rights under the Fair Food Code of Conduct.Consolidating the expansion of the Program’s human rights protections into northern states — a process that began one year ago — is no small feat.  In the […]

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Part Two: What is a corporation to do if it is looking to partner with a real social responsibility program?

We concluded the first installment of this two-part series, entitled “The Enforcement Imperative at the Heart of Worker-driven Social Responsibility,” with this summary:To be effective, any social accountability program must employ: 1) worker education about their rights and remedies, 2) a confidential, timely, retaliation-free complaint resolution mechanism, and 3) regular and thorough audits.  And all of those mechanisms must be backed by the “power of the purchasing order.” If any of those is missing, real change will not happen.In other words, if someone is trying to sell you a car without an engine, a drive shaft, and four wheels, it’s not a […]

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The enforcement imperative at the heart of Worker-driven Social Responsibility…

Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) — the emerging paradigm for the protection of fundamental human rights in corporate supply chains born of the uniquely successful experience of the Fair Food Program — is founded on two distinct and equally important philosophical pillars: worker participation and an intense focus on enforcement.  The former gives WSR its name and its ability to identify and uncover the abuses most urgently felt by workers themselves.  The latter gives WSR its unrivaled power to eliminate those abuses.This is the first in a two-part series about the lesser-known of those two pillars, the enforcement focus — indeed mandate — of […]

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Got Milk with Dignity? Vermont’s Migrant Justice putting finishing touches on breakthrough dairy program…

From Florida tomatoes to Vermont dairy, Worker-driven Social Responsibility in the spotlight at food systems summit…Last week, members of the CIW, Migrant Justice, and the Fair Food Standards Council came together for a special presentation at the 5th Annual Vermont Food Systems Summit in Burlington.  The panel, titled “Worker-driven Social Responsibility for Fair Food,” brought together two unique perspectives.  While the CIW and FFSC unpacked important lessons from their five years of experience implementing the Fair Food Program in tomato fields from Florida to New Jersey, Migrant Justice brought a decidedly more local focus to the gathering of New England food […]

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A Battle for the Soul of Social Responsibility…

Wendy’s new code of conduct is a prime example of the discredited standards-without-enforcement model of corporate social responsibility;Workers’ Voice Tour to contrast Wendy’s code with the proven success of the Fair Food Program and the Worker-driven Social Responsibility model…What would you do if you could cheat on your taxes and know that you would get away with it? Not just think you might get away with it if you’re lucky, but really know that no one is watching and there would be no consequences.  Would you do it?The answer is pretty obvious.  Nobody likes paying taxes.  And even many of those who think taxes […]

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Standards without enforcement are nothing more than empty promises to workers, consumers alike…

In social change, as in sports, it’s not what you say you’re going to do that counts, it’s how well you actually do it…Please indulge us, for a moment, in an extended analogy.   Every four years countries around the globe send their best athletes to compete in the summer Olympic games.  And every four years, for two brief weeks the term “degree of difficulty” makes its way back into our collective consciousness, as divers and gymnasts compete to see who can pull off the most challenging routine and take home the gold.  The Collins English Dictionary defines “degree of difficulty” […]

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Fair Food Program takes United Nations Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva by storm…

Phil Bloomer, Executive Director of Business and Human Rights Resource Center: CIW’s Fair Food Program “a powerful example of the Protect, Respect, and Remedy pillars (of the UN General Principles)”…In a remarkable panel convened in partnership between the United Nation’s Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, the CIW’s Fair Food Program took center stage at the United Nations in Geneva last week, and its enforcement-focused, worker-driven model was the talk of the three-day forum. Praised variously as “inspiring”, “impressive”, and “powerful”, the Fair Food Program was lifted up by the panel organizers as a […]

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