Farmworker rights advocates, policymakers and agricultural workers from Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia and the United States are set to share strategies to build worker power, create decent work in the fields and demand greater justice across global food chains in Los Angeles October 11.
The conference, “Realizing a More Fair Global Food Supply Chain,” will explore farmworker organizing strategies, alliances to support worker rights across the food chain, legal initiatives to ensure decent work and the importance of workers in the advancement of sustainability and justice as our food moves from farm to table.
The event, which takes place Thursday, October 11, 2018, at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center, 675 S. Park View St, Los Angeles, CA 90057, is sponsored by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Solidarity Center and UCLA Labor Center.
8:30 a.m. –9:00 a.m.
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Opening and welcome
- Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Officer, California Labor Federation.
- Kent Wong, Director, UCLA Labor Center
- Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director, Solidarity Center
9:30 a.m.– 11:00 a.m.
Building Power in the Fields
Union activists from Mexico, Morocco and Washington state will share farmworker organizing strategies.
- Ramon Torres, President, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (Burlington, WA)
- Saida Bentahar, Collective Bargaining Committee, Workers Democratic Federation (CDT, Morocco)
- Abelina Ramirez Ruiz, Secretary of Gender Equality,
National Independent and Democratic Union of Farmworkers (SINDJA, Mexico)
Moderator: Gaspar Rivera-Saldago, UCLA Labor Center
11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
11:15 a.m.– 1:00 p.m.
Worker rights and sustainable food advocates will examine models of cooperation and strategies to strengthen agricultural workers through alliances across the food chain.
• Joann Lo, Co-Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance (Los Angeles, CA)
• Clare Fox, Executive Director, Los Angeles Food Policy Council
• Ryan Zinn, Regenerative Projects Manager, Dr. Bronner’s
Moderator: Robert Egger, President, LA Kitchen
1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Lunch (catered, on location)
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Panelists will offer a global perspective on legal initiatives and strategies to support decent work and rights for workers in agriculture.
• Sami Tahri, Member-Executive Office, UGTT (Tunisian labor federation)
• Adrienne DerVartanian, Director of Immigration and Labor Rights, Farmworker Justice (Washington, DC)
Moderator: Jeff Vogt, Director, Rule of Law, Solidarity Center
3:00 p.m.–3:15 p.m.
3:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closing: What’s next?
Participants will explore the future of workers building power and voice in sustainable food chains while ensuring fairness and sustainability in agriculture supply chains.
• Sarah Gammage, Director of Gender, Economic Empowerment and Livelihoods, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
• Azusena Favela, Director of Programs and Operations, Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN)
• Rusty Hicks, President, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
• Lorenzo Rodríguez Jiménez, General Secretary, National Independent and Democratic Union of Farmworkers (SINDJA, Mexico)
Moderator: Shawna Bader-Blau, Solidarity Center
6:00 p.m.– 8:00 p.m.
Reception: UFCW Local 770, 630 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90005
RSVP to: email@example.com
Fact Sheet: Women Workers in Agro-Industry
The Human Pain in Every Morsel You Eat [Podcast interview with Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau, min. 5:00]
Global Supply Chains: Not Every Job Is a Good Job
Modern Slavery in Company Operation & Supply Chains
Decent Work in Global Supply Chains
The Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association in the Workplace
In Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, women are taking concrete steps through unions to achieve social and economic justice and decent work, achievements possible when women are substantively involved in decision-making in their unions, their community and civil society.
In Algeria, the Women’s Committee of the Syndicat National Autonome des Personnels de l’Administration Publique (SNAPAP) has reached out to 600 marginalized and vulnerable women across 11 provinces through educational outreach and study circles. SNAPAP leadership recognizes that despite women’s active social and economic participation, they still face blatant discrimination in their workplaces and communities, harassment, violence, and exploitation on the job.
The Women’s Committee runs study circles with the Regional Algerian Women’s Legal Empowerment Network and with support from the Solidarity Center. During study sessions, the women learn their legal rights under national laws and international conventions. They also are supported in overcoming fears that keep them from challenging repression and violations of their rights, even those often condoned by their societies.
Amid ongoing global economic insecurity, millions of workers are struggling to find jobs that pay a living wage—and the most vulnerable are women, who are more likely to toil in jobs without coverage under formal labor law or social protections, leaving them open to discrimination and exploitation.
The study circles provide a safe place where women can freely talk about their experiences. In recent months, they have described ongoing exploitation in the workplace and at home. All have detailed low wages, long working hours, abusive transfers and dismissals, discrimination, sexual harassment, physical violence and a lack of social protection.
A woman union activist from Adrar, in southwest Algeria, describes how women workers struggle economically in the region, despite the country’s oil and gas wealth. To survive in Adrar, some women work in stone quarries using their bare hands to fill trucks with rocks and gravel for private sellers. Three women recently died from dehydration.
“Surprisingly, all the basic rights that women should enjoy, such as health coverage and decent living wages, are not being enjoyed by women of the south. Some women tried to change their situation through training, but their certificate of completion was rejected by all the businesses and enterprises in the south, which led women to be marginalized,” said the activist. She added that the women, “work in an unsafe environment and are vulnerable to harassment.”
In Tunisia, where women are playing a key role in enshrining articles in the constitution that guarantee equality and parity, women in the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (General Union of Tunisian Workers, UGTT) are now working to advance women’s roles in their union. They are uniting under the theme, “Partners in social activism, partners in decision-making,” to highlight their essential role in the country’s 2010–2011 uprising and the subsequent democratic transition. UGTT women are campaigning for creation of a quota that would ensure women comprise a minimum percentage of elected officers and members of UGTT decision-making bodies.
Women union members also have been active in UGTT’s push to remove all of the country’s reservations to the United Nations on the Convention on the Elimination on all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). These reservations had enabled Tunisia to opt out of certain provisions, including women’s rights within the family, even though the country had ratified the treaty.
The Confederation Democratique du Travail (Democratic Labor Confederation, CDT) in Morocco is laying the groundwork for a gender advocacy campaign to ensure the consistent application and enforcement of women’s rights. The CDT’s Women’s Committee is laying the groundwork to “give more visibility to the demands of women workers.” The CDT released a memorandum, “Work is a right, with guaranteed dignity and equality,” at a well-attended press conference last month and plans a coordinated workers’ advocacy campaign for women workers.