The Coalition of Immokalee Workers represents tomato pickers in Florida, a group with seemingly no power in our society. Yet the CIW has moved some of the largest corporations in the world to pay Florida workers a penny a pound more for their efforts -- which adds up to serious money -- as well as institute safe and fair labor practices.
About Gerardo Reyes-Chavez, leader and organizer, Coalition of Immokalee Workers:
Gerardo has worked in the fields since age 11, first as a peasant farmer in Zacatecas, Mexico, and then in the fields of Florida
picking oranges, tomatoes, and watermelon. He joined the Coalition of
Immokalee Workers shortly after his arrival in the United States in 2000.
Since then Gerardo has been a key leader of the CIW, his work focusing both at the community level, mobilizing the Immokalee community
around national actions in the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food, and more
broadly at the consumer level across the country, raising awareness
in support of the Campaign through presentations, workshops, and
speeches. Gerardo has helped investigate several modern-day slavery
operations, including going undercover to work on tomato farms and
interviewing workers who have escaped from violent, brutal operations.
He is today a key member of the CIW's negotiating team in talks with
retail food and tomato industry leaders and has been instrumental in
forging many of the CIW's Fair Food agreements.
This talk opened Session Three: Money for TEDxFruitvale, which was held on October 14, 2011 at Mills College in Oakland, CA. The conference's theme was Harvesting Change, and it focused on farmworkers, labor and other social justice movements, and fair labor practices in business.
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