In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Bon Appétit is dedicating its 2018 Farmworker Awareness Week promotion to highlighting the work of this groundbreaking advocacy organization. Founded in 1993 in Immokalee, FL, the CIW has pushed for fair labor practices by forging strategic alliances among farmworkers, produce growers, and retail buyers.
Here’s a look at key moments in this organization’s impressive 25-year history:
1993-1999: COALITION FORMS AND PROVES THE SCALE OF THE PROBLEM
1993: CIW is born when Greg Asbed, Lucas Benitez, Laura Germino, and Gerardo Reyes-Chavez convene a small group of workers in an Immokalee, FL, church to discuss how to better their community and their lives. Weekly migrant advocacy meetings follow.
1997: Federal civil rights officials begin prosecuting slavery operations involving over 1,000 workers in Florida’s ﬁelds.
2000-2009: CAMPAIGN STRENGTHENS AND BON APPÉTIT SIGNS ON
2000: During the 235-mile march for Dignity, Dialogue, and a Fair Wage, farmworkers carry a 12-foot Lady Liberty statue on their shoulders (see 2017, below).
2001: Campaign for Fair Food forges alliances among farmworkers, consumers, and major corporate buyers to combat farmworker exploitation.
2001-2007: CIW harnesses student activism and initiates series of fast food restaurant boycotts, driving powerful corporations to raise farmworkers’ wages an extra penny per pound of tomatoes.
2009: CIW informs Bon Appétit that their tomatoes come from Florida.
Three months later, top Bon Appétit leaders ﬂy to Immokalee, where they vow to stop buying tomatoes unless labor conditions improve.
Bon Appétit becomes ﬁrst food service company to sign onto Fair Food Agreement, integrating fair wage minimums, worker empowerment stipulations, and grower incentives.
The Washington Post covers Bon Appétit’s landmark decision.
Compass Group — Bon Appétit’s parent company — becomes proud CIW partner.
2010-PRESENT: IMPACT DEEPENS, AWARDS FLOOD IN
2010: CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange reach historic agreement to extend CIW’s Fair Food principles — including a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process — to over 90% of the Florida tomato industry.
2011: Bon Appétit hosts TEDxFruitvale – Harvesting Change at Mills College, convening farmworkers, activists, students, and entrepreneurs. Founding CIW member Gerardo Reyes-Chavez headlines.
2013-2016: CIW receives ﬂood of awards. A partial list follows:
Food Sovereignty Prize
Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Want Award
Clinton Global Citizens Award
Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking
James Beard Leadership Award
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History places CIW’s Lady Liberty statue on permanent display.
Founding CIW member Greg Asbed earns acclaimed MacArthur Fellowship (“genius grant”).
We’re proud to shine a light on this organization’s ongoing efforts to improve the lives of farmworkers. To learn more about CIW, visit ciw-online.org.