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Farm Workers Rights Migrant Labor Factory Farm Agribusiness Family Farmer Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Lucas Benitez, a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and a farm worker himself, has become a leader in the fight to end slave labor, human trafficking and exploitation in agricultural fields across America. The CIW worked with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights to lobby major produce buyers in the fast food industry to implement an industry-wide surcharge on Florida tomatoes that will provide a livable wage for Florida’s farm workers. In March 2005 and April 2007, CIW signed historic agreements with Yum! Brands (parent company for Taco Bell) and McDonald’s, respectively, implementing the CIW’s demand for the one-penny-more-per-pound wage increase. RFK Center and CIW are working to broaden consumer and government awareness to create laws that eliminate the exploitation and enslavement of U.S. farm workers. RFK Center is also a founding member of the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF), a network of human rights, religious, student, labor and grassroots organizations dedicated to advancing the human rights of farm workers. Farming has become a multi-billion-dollar industry in which corporations negotiate with growers to purchase mass quantities of product for the lowest possible prices. To maintain profits and income for growers, suppliers and labor contractors, farm workers’ wages have been reduced to far below poverty levels. Furthermore, farm workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain are not protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Many of these workers have become enslaved and victims of gross human rights abuses. In response to this crisis, the CIW, a farm workers’ rights group, was developed to promote change across the fast food industry.