Read on for articles on Urban Roots, a victory in the National Prison Industry Divestment Campaign, and our successful party & fundraiser!
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Urban Roots

Buy the documentary "Urban Roots" & Support FCWA!

Buy the Urban Roots Film and the FCWA will receive 35% or $7 of the total price of the DVD. This donation will further help our work to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain. Click here to buy the film!

Review of Urban Roots

By Katherine Cielinksi, FCWA intern
     Detroit has been through a lot in the last half century. Once the heart of American manufacturing, the city’s decline has since become something of a public spectacle - an ominous example of what can happen as our cities transition into the post-industrial era... 
     Urban Roots is director Mark McInnis’ attempt to re-define this story, and to cast Detroit as a city of possibility. The documentary follows a number of different urban farmers as they successfully grow food on small lots across the city of Detroit...
    The farms that McInnis shows in his documentary all share a common goal, which is to re-gain control over the local food chain. Many of these growers were not farmers by intention or training. Instead, urban farming in Detroit is more about food sovereignty, or the idea that everyone deserves to eat good food and to be in control of what they eat. 
     Read the rest of the review by clicking he

Demand that Walmart Take a Stand Against Torture of Labor Leaders!

By Anthony Lo, FCWA summer intern
     On June 3, 2011, the Food Chain Workers Alliance took action at a Walmart in Fayetteville, Arkansas, for a brave woman named Kalpona Akter. Kalpona works in Bangladesh for the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, which is a center that educates workers about Bangladesh labor law, International Labor Organization standards, and brands’ Codes of Conduct that apply to production in Bangladesh’s ready-made-garment factories.  Unfortunately, when Kalpona took the center’s mission to a Walmart subcontractor’s garment factory, she and her co-worker were thrown into jail. All Kalpona hoped to do was help the workers unionize in order to raise their wages beyond 20 cents per hour and help them assert their right to a safe workplace because forty workers in a Bangladeshi garment factory were killed during a fire last year.
     Kalpona spoke to FCWA members about her experience in jail. For one whole week, she was isolated in a two by four foot jail cell. In an interrogation cell, she was tortured with the same questions over and over for eighteen long hours. When she showered, she had to shower in the open in front of everyone else in the jail. However, even showering was no luxury because the water quality was so poor that it made people sick. The food? Kalpona was literally given food that is fed to animals.
     Overrun with emotion, Kalopona could no longer recount her experience because it was too painful to think about.
     What Kalpona faced was atrocious. She was eventually allowed out of jail, but with falsified criminal charges – such as treason – hanging over her head like a black cloud. Now, the Bangladeshi government wants to drive Kalpona over the edge of a cliff; she faces the death penalty for some of the charges against her.
     The unbending truth is that all of this is unacceptable, and that is why organizations like the FCWA are rushing to help save Kalpona’s life, and you can too. In Fayetteville, FCWA did their part to help Kalpona by handing out flyers about Kalpona’s situation and getting a petition signed by Walmart customers demanding that Walmart take a stand against torture of labor leaders. If you are as touched as the more than 10,000 people around the U.S. who have signed the petition, please sign it as well.  You can be directly involved in saving Kalpona’s life, as well as her other associates Babul Akhter and Aminul Islam who face the same charges, by simply following this link. The petition is being sent to Walmart and asks them to use their powerful economic influence to pressure the Bangladeshi government to drop the false criminal charges against Kalpona, Babul, and Aminul Petitioning worked in getting Kalpona bailed out of the lifeless conditions in jail and it can succeed again. Please help save Kalpona’s life. Thank you. 

FCWA Member News

FCWA Member News

ROC-United National Convening
    Earlier this week, June 26-29, the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United held its National Restaurant Workers Convening in Chicago. Members took part in the National Restaurant Workers Olympics, shared stories and strategies, and took action. Check out the video for ROC-United's flash mob at the Taste of Chicago festival to send the message that restaurant workers won't be ignored!

Brandworkers Win Victory!
Due to worker-led advocacy efforts supported by Brandworkers International
the Cottage chain of Chinese restaurants in NYC has discontinued all restaurant supply purchases from Pur Pac, a Queens-based distribution warehouse that, through predecessor companies, engaged in massive wage theft and illegal retaliation against workers who stood up for their rights.  Though Pur Pac, through its previous incarnations as E-Z Supply and Sunrise Plus, was found liable in both federal court and the National Labor Relations Board for pervasive workers' rights violations, the workers have yet to see any of the compensation they are owed. Read more here.

UFCW Local 1500 Charges Target with Unfair Labor Practices

On Friday, June 24, 2011, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500 filed objections to Target Corporation's conduct during the course of the recent union election in Valley Stream, N.Y. The union lost the vote and has filed for a new election due to the unfair labor practices such as threats and surveillance.  Bruce Both, President of UFCW Local 1500, said,  "Eighty-Five (85) courageous workers from Valley Stream should be commended for withstanding the intimidation and scare tactics Target management suffocated them with every day leading to the June 17th election." Read more here.

Sign Petition to Slow Down Line Speed
The Center for New Community is asking for signatures on a petition to encourage the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to slow down meatpacking line speed. Click here to read more and sign the petition!

Prison Industry Divestment Campaign

Victory in Prison Industry Divestment Campaign!

     The Food Chain Workers Alliance has endorsed the National Prison Industry Divestment Campaign, which is calling on all public and private institutions to divest their holdings in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, America’s largest private prison corporations that have profited from billions in taxpayer money.The campaign is coordinated by Enlace, a strategic alliance of low-wage workers centers and unions in the U.S. and Mexico, and other organizations across.
     CCA and the GEO Group lobby legislators to pass and then profit from racist anti-immigrant laws like SB 1070 and its copycat in Georgia that criminalize communities and increase the prison population. The major investors in the private prison industry include Wellington Management Company, Wells Fargo Bank, General Electric and others.
     In New York City on May 12, 2011, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, along with FCWA member Brandworkers International, the Excluded Workers Congress, the Workplace Project, Domestic Workers United, and other organizations protested outside the home of Bill Ackman, the Wall Street investment guru who is also the head of Pershing Square Capital. This hedge fund was the biggest investor in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). CCA has been linked to cruel the anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Georgia, as well as to abusive practices in immigrant detention facilities that it runs for the federal government. Courts have found CCA responsible for wrongful deaths, sexual assaults, and other horrors in its tax-funded lock-ups. According to the federal government, nearly 40% of the immigrants jailed in tax-funded CCA facilities since October 2010 are non-criminals.
     Four days after the protest, Pershing Square Capital divested all of its holdings in CCA! 
     The next action in the campaign is planned for July 1, a National Day in solidarity with Georgia. On July 1st the Arizona copycat law HB87 is set to be implemented in Georgia. On June 27, a judge blocked parts of the law, but most of it is set to continue forth. Private prisons and their major investors made contributions to the GA Governor, GA Attorney General, and the sponsor of HB87, among other key politicians.
     Click here for a list of actions around the country on July 1
FCWA Party & Fundraiser a Success!

FCWA Party & Fundraiser a Success!

Photos and article by Carrie Freshour, FCWA intern
     On June 22nd, the Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA) held a celebration and fundraiser recognizing the hard work of member-organizers in the food-processing, restaurant, and grocery store industries.  The event was held at Colors in NYC, a worker-owned cooperative restaurant founded by Alliance member organization Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) of NY.  The event was organized by Alliance members ROC-NY, UFCW Local 1500, Brandworkers International, and ROC United.  Guests were given the unique opportunity to hear from workers in each organization talk about their current campaigns and upcoming plans for sustaining the fight for workplace justice and transforming the food system. 
     In attendance were directors and organizers from ROC-NY, Brandworkers International, UNITE HERE (also an FCWA member), ROC-United, community educators, students, labor-law attorneys, philanthropists, activists, and workers in various sectors of the food chain.  Diana Robinson, UFCW Local 1500 Food Policy Coordinator, was the MC of the event.
     ROC-United co-executive director Saru Jayaraman started the evening off with a brief introduction of the FCWA, its origins, organizing history, and overarching goals.  She highlighted the success of the Alliance in reaching a collective membership of 130,000 workers, but also the necessity of continued momentum in extending out to the over 20 million workers in the US food system.
     Following Saru’s introduction, Target employee and organizing committee member Tashawna Green shared her experiences in the ongoing battle for unionizing Target stores nationwide.  Tashawna has been a leading member-organizer with the UFCW Local 1500’s current efforts at the Valley Stream, NY, Target, in their unprecedented “Target Change” campaign.  Despite the setback on June 17th when Local 1500 lost the union representation vote, the vote was one of the most successful votes in the history of big-box retail.  Tashawna expressed the unflinching courage and determination of Target workers in the continued battle: “They thought they won, but they didn’t really win.  We’re still fighting.” 
    Read the rest of the article by clicking here.
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