Julia Gabriel: "Como trabajadores y mujeres, tenemos que luchar por nuestros derechos y contra la violencia tanto en la labor como en la casa" "As women and as workers, we have to fight for our rights and against violence both in the fields and in our own homes"
Thanks for joining us, and don't forget to send us any news, photos, or media reports on actions in your community -- we'll post them as soon as we can and your action can help motivate thousands of visitors to the site across the country!
Coalition of Immokalee Workers
WHO WE ARE
1995 General Strike Immokalee, Florida
The CIW is today spear-heading the Taco Bell boycott. But before we launched the national boycott in April of 2001, we had been organizing locally for many years in an effort to modernize labor relations in Florida's fields, improve wages and working conditions for our members, and eliminate modern-day slavery.
To learn more about the history of the Coalition, you can go to the CIW site where you'll find all the non-Taco Bell info on the Coalition from 1995 to 2001, including past CIW campaigns, Press Archives, Photo Galleries, and more!
1997 General Strike Immokalee, Florida
Or, you can simply click on some of the links here below to go directly to the pages from the CIW site that interest you... just remember to hit the back button on your browser to return to the boycott site!:
Special note: The two-hour PBS documentary "Dying to Leave," an examination of the growing phenomena of human trafficking and modern-day slavery that aired in September, 2003, includes an in-depth look at a case brought to light by the CIW in 2000. Click here to see a short video summary.
The CIW's Anti-Slavery Campaign is a worker-based approach to eliminating modern-day slavery in the agricultural industry. In the past six years, the campaign has uncovered, investigated, and collaborated in the prosecution of three multi-worker, multi-state slavery operations based in Florida, and consulted for the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice on two others.
The campaign has resulted in freedom for more than a thousand tomato and orange pickers held in debt bondage, historic sentences for various agricultural employers, the development of a successsful model of community-government cooperation, and the growth of an expanding base of aware and committed worker activists.
The CIW, a community organization with over 2,000 members, employs a unique combination of outreach, investigation, and worker-to-worker counseling in order to combat already-existing slavery operations case-by-case. At the same time, the CIW believes that the ultimate solution to modern-day slavery in agribusiness lies on the "demand side" of the US produce market -- the major food-buying corporations, like Taco Bell, that profit from the artificially-low cost of US produce picked by workers in sweatshop and, in the worst cases, slavery conditions. With this in mind, the Anti-Slavery Campaign works hand in hand with the CIW's national Taco Bell Boycott in an effort to leverage the fast-food industry's vast resources and market influence as major produce buyers to clean up slavery and other labor abuses in its supply chain once and for all.
Both aspects of the Anti-Slavery Campaign -- the day-to-day investigative efforts and the longer-term work to eliminate the market conditions that allow modern-day slavery to flourish -- operate on the common principle that the most effective weapon against forced labor is an aware worker community engaged in the defense of its own labor rights.
[The CIW is a founding member of the national Freedom Network USA to Empower Victims of Slavery and Trafficking, helping train law enforcement and social services personnel on how to recognize and assist enslaved people. The CIW's efforts have gained national recognition, including the National Organization for Women (NOW) 'Woman of Courage Award,' given to CIW member Julia Gabriel in 2000.]
CIW Anti-slavery Campaign in the news... Major media have taken notice of the Anti-slavery Campaign's success over the past few years, and recently several important stories have come out covering our efforts:
Univision.com is the latest to publish an in-depth report on modern-day slavery in Immokalee. The report is in Spanish, but even if you don't read Spanish it is worth checking out for several impressive photo galleries included in the report (and, of course, if you read Spanish the report is remarkably well-done and informative, really one of the most penetrating portraits of Immokalee's unique reality that we have yet to see). Click here to go to the multi-media report now!
New Yorker Magazine ran a story in their April 21/28, 2003, double issue, entitled, "Nobodies -- American Slaves Today" by John Bowe. The article feartures some of the recent slavery cases here in Florida and the CIW's participation in those cases. The New Yorker article calls Immokalee "ground zero for modern-day slavery." There is no online version of the article, but you can find it at your local library, or we can send you a copy by mail if you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Geographic's September issue will include an extensive report on modern-day slavery, including a focus on several of the CIW's cases. As always, we are expecting great photos and thoughtful analysis from the Geographic.
PBS is going to air an in-depth documentary on slavery and trafficking nationally on September 25th which will also focus, in part, on the CIW's work and the hope for a solution to this growing problem represented by the CIW's worker-led Anti-Slavery Campaign.
Landmark victory against huge modern-day slavery operation in Lake Placid, Florida!... 11/02:
After a two year investigation by the CIW -- in collaboration with the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice -- the leaders of a violent and coercive slavery operation employing up to 600 farmworkers were found guilty in federal court of charges including: conspiracy to hold workers in involuntary servitude, extortion, and use of a firearm during a violent crime.
The three Central Florida citrus employers not only held orange pickers in slavery, but also pistol-whipped and held at gunpoint drivers for a van service who were attempting to give farmworkers rides out of town.
The men were sentenced in November, 2002, to a total of 34 years in jail and ordered to forfeit $3 million in assets obtained illegally through their operation. News of the verdict went out on the AP wire. See one of the articles, "Conviction may help working conditions," here.
The Lake Placid conviction was the sixth slavery operation in South Florida to be brought to justice
in the past six years. For more history and analysis of the ongoing problem of modern day slavery in Florida's fields, click on the links below:
St. Petersburg Times Op/Ed: " If the governor and other state officials did their job, many citrus and tomato moguls would be jailed and fined for perpetuating a system that lets subcontractors abuse workers." See the rest of the Bill Maxwell column here.
BBC World News radio report on Slavery (8 minutes on CIW anti-slavery campaign, starting at the 15:12 mark): "Trafficking for Labour" (programme three)
"Only by making those who profit most from farmworkers' exploited labor pay the true cost of harvesting this country's crops will we be able, once and for all, to close the book on America's 'Harvest of Shame'...."
Send an "e-card" to support the anti-slavery campaign...Anti-slavery International of London, "the world's oldest human rights organization," is a partner with the CIW in an international effort to bring modern-day slavery operations to justice and to bring public attention to the continued existence of debt-bondage. They have launched an impressive "e-card" campaign focusing on four recent cases of modern-day slavery from Holland, Kuwait, Italy, and... one from right here in Immokalee, Florida. Visit their website at stophumantraffic.org, or click here to see "Ricardo's" story of forced labor in the tomato fields of Southwest Florida. While you're there, please feel free to send one of their e-cards to a friend or family member to help spread word of this important campaign. All you have to do is click on "send an e-card" in the box in the upper right corner of Ricardo's story, and the rest is easy!