March 19, 2014
From Elena Stein & Claire Comiskey
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The “Now is the Time” Tour came to a rallying close on Saturday as over 1,000 people gathered in Lakeland to complete the 24-hour vigil and set off marching up the main thoroughfare to downtown Lakeland.
The 24-hour witness outside an iconic Publix in the company’s hometown — staged from mid-day Friday to mid-day Saturday — proved to be the most poignant close to witness and community-building in ten cities over ten days. Click on the must-see video to the right for a sense of the confrontation between Publix officials and religious leaders during Friday’s candlelight rally (or check out a written reflection from the Rev. Lindsay Comstock, Executive Director of National Farm Worker Ministry) as well as the powerful, guiding words that the faith delegation shared upon return, fueling the vigil participants for the long, chilly night ahead.
May 25, 2011
If you remember back to the last farm bill reform activities, you may even remember Daryll Ray and his analysis around subsidies. Well, myths around subsidies being the root of all evil in the farming system persist even among groups such as Bread for the World. Granted the issue can seem complex and it’s easier to mimic what others say (I certainly confess to this sin), but Professor Ray has done a great job of explaining the real story. Thanks to Presbyterian farmer and advisor, Brad Wilson, we have resources on this topic below at the tip of your fingers. Thank you Brad!
And if you wish to learn from and join with Presbyterians discussing (and acting on!) similar topics, such as how folks are overhauling the food system with local and regional faith-based initiatives, you are welcome to join the PCUSA Food and Faith Groupsite. Just sign-up to join and you’ll soon be part of this growing group of Agrarian Allies!
Daryll Ray of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee has written many excellent materials on the farm bill, price floors, (“price supports,”) farm subsidies, supply management, and related topics.
Ray’s best summary of the topic is probably the Executive Summary to his (et al) 2003 report: “ Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide.”
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April 2, 2011
On Thursday, a special group of folks from around the world joined in a spirited protest with farm workers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), students and people of faith from various churches in the area. The protest took place in front of a Publix supermarket in Naples, Florida. The CIW has been asking Publix to work with them to end poverty wages and abuses in the fields.
Pictured is Dr. Aruna Gnanadason from India, who is one of 30 people gathered for a Justice Reading consultation with the World Council of Reformed Churches here in Fort Myers. We spent the first day together with the farm workers in Immokalee to ground our consultation in current justice issues of worker exploitation, mistreatment of immigrants and modern-day slavery. (See the press release from the WCRC on the protest)
* Here are photos and story from Naples Daily News – “Farmworkers target Publix in protest over wages and working conditions”
* Here are photos and videos from the Coalition’s recent “Do the right thing tour!”
* Find out how to act in support in the farm workers’ Campaign for Fair Food
During our “immersion” day with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, we heard the history of the CIW and the farm workers’ struggle and amazing organizing to claim their rights and dignity. We walked through the town seeing the ridiculously-expensive RVs that many of the farm workers rent on a weekly basis. And we saw the solidarity and service center Mision Peniel. Read more »
September 3, 2010
Betty2 Betty Martin (on the right) has worked for the Buffalo School District as a bus aide for over 20 years. As she puts it, she is the “first line of defense” for Buffalo’s school children. She is the first person a child sees on his/her way to school and the last person he/she sees before going home. Betty has broken up fights between students, warded off assaults from students, waited with children when parents haven’t shown up for pick-ups, and calmed a bus load of kids after the bus was caught in a gun fight.
When the Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), a group funded by the Presbyterian Hunger Program, met Betty she was at top pay with the district, $9.05/hour with no benefits. Starting bus aides were earning just $7.66/hour. She had just risen to the rank of union president and returned a call from CEJ to find out more about who we were and how she could help herself and her coworkers secure a living wage.
Although Betty’s fight is far from over, she has built her skills as a leader over the last two years, mobilized and engaged her coworkers, and played a huge role in securing passage of a living wage policy at the Buffalo School Board level – a policy impacting nearly 1,000 school service professionals. She has attended numerous school board meetings, testified in front of the school board, spoken at a CEJ sponsored Buffalo conference and on a panel at the last Jobs with Justice National Conference, moderated press conferences, collected petition signatures from students and parents, canvassed door-to-door to educate voters about the importance of living wages, and on and on.
More than taking a leadership role in fighting for a living wage for school workers, Betty has become a permanent CEJ activist. She understands that her fight is connected to the fight of other low-wage workers, and that the struggle for living wages is connected to the struggle for health care, the right to organize, good government, and corporate accountability. Betty joined CEJ’s Board of Directors in 2008 and has been excited to participate in trainings to become a better leader and organizer both with her union and with CEJ.
Together, CEJ, Betty, her coworkers, and our community allies have a battle still to win with school officials to ensure that the Buffalo School District begins full implementation of the living wage policy it passed. However, Betty’s efforts at the bargaining table with the district are now coupled with and supported by a community campaign, and because of that she is going to win more than what she thought was possible two years ago. Read more »
March 3, 2010
Faced with the international “technical” conference of the FAO in Guadalajara, “Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries,” which is little more than just the promotion of GM crops – today we inaugurated the “First public hearing to prepare the presentation of the GM Maize case before international courts,” organized by La Via Campesina North America Region, Red en Defensa del Maíz (Network in Defense of Maize, Mexico), and Asamblea Nacional de Afectados Ambientales (Assembly of People Displaced by Environmental Impacts, Mexico), with the participation of 276 people, mostly members and leaders of peasant, family farm , and indigenous peoples’ organizations from 19 Mexican states, the USA, and Canada. Read more »