Around the globe, hundreds of millions of food workers make it possible for the world to eat. Almost all the food we eat passes through the hands of workers who plant, harvest, process, transport, prepare, sell, and serve it. In the U.S. alone there are more than 21.5 million food workers, making the food industry the largest employer. The food industry is also the most exploitative.
We are food workers in the food system, employed on farms, in factories, warehouses, trucks, supermarkets, restaurants, cafeterias, sell food on the streets and much more. We are organizing locally and globally to improve our working conditions and to have a say in our workplaces and in our communities. We are inspired by the workers movements of the past and the rising worker movements of today taking place in many industries. They show us that worker based organizing can build the power we need today and the power we need for the longer struggle for economic and social justice for all workers.
WHY MUST WE ORGANIZE?
Food workers receive the lowest median wage, leaving them and their communities unable to afford the very food they produce and more dependent on public assistance than any other workforce. Food workers are subjected to extremely dangerous working conditions, with high rates of injury, death and illness across the food chain. These conditions along with increasing precariousness and the lack of job security leave food workers vulnerable to wage theft, racial, ethnic and gender discrimination and violence. Food workers have also been the main target of the current wave of abusive anti-immigrant enforcement.
Our labor is essential to our food system. Yet, food workers are treated as disposable at every stage while their labor and exploitation remains invisible to most consumers. Profit-driven, corporate consolidation of the food industry and global capitalism allows this exploitation to continue. Yet, this race to the bottom in the food economy does not only impact workers, it impacts everyone. The cycle of producing cheap food has led to extreme degradation of our health and environment.
This food and labor system is rooted in a history of slavery and colonization, which continues to shape conditions today. We understand that in order to dismantle institutions of labor exploitation we must also dismantle institutions of racism and colonization. Likewise, global capitalism and imperialism in the form of economic violence, war, and militarization of our cities and borders also strongly shape these conditions. We believe our struggles must always reflect this analysis and build global solidarity.
Through organizing in our workplaces and communities we can revolutionize our food system to be one in which our work is valued and respected, where all workers can share in the wealth of their labor, and where we have the power to shape our working conditions and our lives. We are guided by the following principles:
We believe in centering the voices and leadership of food workers and food worker communities.
We know that the state of our exploitative food system is rooted in systems of white supremacy, a history of slavery, and colonization. We are guided by the principles of racial justice and organize to dismantle these systems.
We support movements fighting patriarchy, misogyny, gender violence, homophobia and transphobia. We understand that gender justice cannot be achieved without racial and economic justice.
We believe in the right of all people to move freely between borders in search of a better life. We also believe that people have the right to stay and not be driven from their homes by global capitalism and imperialist war and exploitation.
We recognize we must build solidarity across the global food chain and among all workers. We reject employer and government efforts to divide us by race, gender, ethnicity, immigration status and job status.
BREAD AND ROSES
A dignified life for all workers means time and access to leisure, education, and opportunities to make our lives happier and more meaningful.
We believe in a democratically controlled food system where those who produce, distribute, and consume food have control over the mechanisms of food production and distribution.
ALTERNATIVE ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
We support building alternatives to capitalism including supporting the growth of worker-owned cooperatives.
OUR ORGANIZING ROADMAP
The right to organize our workplaces is fundamental and central to our vision. This includes the ability to exercise this right in fair and safe working conditions without fear of harassment or retaliation by employers or the government. With that in mind we are building an organizing roadmap guided by our members struggles and victories:
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE
HEALTH & SAFETY
FAIR WORK STANDARDS
FIGHT RACIAL, ETHNIC & RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION
ON THE JOB
END LABOR EXPLOITATION OF INCARCERATED PEOPLE