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Familias Unidas por la justicia

Driscoll’s Boycott Movement Continues and Grows

By anonymous contributor - It's Going Down, July 7, 2017

This is a friendly reminder from your comrades at the Good Earth Workers Union that the call to boycott the multi-national corporation known as Driscoll’s Berries is still ongoing.

You may recall that last year, about 400 farmworkers organized as FUJ in Washington state fought for a contract in their struggle for higher wages and better working conditions. Despite their successful and hard-won fight, berry pickers and other agricultural workers face severely worse working conditions in the Mexican state of Baja California.

At least 60,000 workers are represented by the National Independent Democratic Union of Agricultural Workers (SINDJA). Our brothers and sisters in Mexico have been facing fierce repression for their organizing efforts in the region over the last several years. Many of them work at farms in the San Quintin region that are contracted through Driscoll’s Berries.

Don’t be fooled by the “Fair Trade” sticker they slap on the clamshell packages: Driscoll’s is complicit with a corrupt state that uses violence to crush labor movements. The next time you need to visit a grocery store, don’t just boycott the berries; ask to talk to the produce department about the ongoing movement. Any store that sees value in selling organic or fair trade products should heed this call to action.

For more information and resources, especially if you live in Minnesota, visit our website NoBloodBerriesMN.wordpress.com

The Dark Side of Local

By Margaret Gray - Jacobin, August 21, 2016

We live in the shadows,” explained Javier, a Hudson Valley farmworker, while describing his life to me. “We are treated like unknown people . . . We are not paid well and cannot ask for more.” A worker on another farm said, “They treat us like nothing; they only want the work . . . Whether we like it or not, we have to like it.”

Some of today’s liveliest political conversations concern agricultural production and distribution. But these discussions are also among the most confused.

Exploitative conditions on factory farms have rightly drawn the attention of academics, activists, and journalists. Indeed, the vast majority of research on farmworkers focuses on the largest farming sites. Consumers are offered countless reasons to avoid produce from them — but few alternatives other than to “buy local.”

Much contemporary food writing argues that when we buy locally grown food directly from farms, we not only secure fresher, more seasonal produce, but we also create an intimate, trusting relationship with the farmer. This supposed bond reinforces the common understanding that the local food production process is more wholesome than the industrial agricultural system.

Food writers and scholars have highlighted the many positive aspects of local food systems: economic and social justice, the sense of community facilitated by face-to-face interactions with food producers, and the civic engagement and democracy promoted by alternative agri-systems.

For example, as Barbara Kingsolver argues in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, “‘locally grown’ is a denomination whose meaning in incorruptible.” Later in the book she addresses the poor pay and conditions of workers on factory farms, citing their average annual income of $7,500. Clearly, she intends readers to feel grateful that local farms offer a more just and well-paid alternative.

Or take another prominent example: in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a landmark in the new food literature, Michael Pollan describes two types of farming — industrial and pastoral — and offers no in-between.

In promoting local diets as healthy and righteous alternatives to the capitalist-industrial monoculture food system, such writers have sold us an idea premised on a false dichotomy.

On one hand, they demonize factory farms for poisoning the land and local waterways, for confining and mistreating animals, and for exploiting their workers in the name of earning profits. On the other hand, they promote local agriculture as the antidote to the factory farms’ corporate ills.

By shopping at the farmers market or joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, consumers support smaller (though not necessarily small) farmers, keep food dollars local, encourage limited pesticide use, and ensure animals are treated humanely.

Farmworkers Lead the Way To Climate Justice

By Edgar Franks - Front and Centered, April 21, 2016

We at Community to Community (C2C) have been in solidarity with the Boycott Driscoll’s campaign led by Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) since 2013. We believe that movements are most successful when led by the most affected. It’s not often, if at all, we see a union that is led by indigenous people, FUJ union members are Mixteco and Triqui people and they are dramatically shifting the ways in which we think about farm worker organizing. We have learned from Cesar Chavez and the California farm workers’ strategies on winning contracts using the boycott and in WA State we are continuing that legacy.

FUJ is making history not only in taking on a corporate giant but in the ways they have been able to educate people on the complexities of the food system. Through the boycott of Driscoll’s we are now able to see the dramatic shift that agriculture has been going through. Driscoll’s is an example of why we need a new food system. Apart from the tremendous amount of labor exploitation the fight against Driscoll’s is also about climate and environmental justice.

We can’t call corporate businesses farms or say that they are practicing agriculture. Our campesino way of food production and feeding our people is at odds with the profit/commodity market. Through the industrial agriculture model we see an intensifying use of pesticides and fertilizers, most of which are petroleum based and contribute to ozone depletion. The water that is extracted is drying up our rivers and reservoirs. For example, California is currently going through a historic water shortage mostly due to the amount of water that is used in industrial agriculture.

So when farm workers are calling for a boycott of Driscoll’s berries, it is a much deeper call to action. It is a challenge to all of us to fight for a better way of living and build the food system and economy that we need to thrive in harmony with Mother Earth. We at C2C are working to create a local solidarity economy where profit is not the motive, but living well is the driving factor of our labor. We want food sovereignty for all communities, where communities can decide how to feed their people in an equitable, participatory manner. We want agroecology as the way to build the new food system and to end the corporate industrial model of food production. By doing this we can raise the political consciousness of our people and build solidarity across movements.