IHRC Collaborates with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) students Alli Hugi (’18), Eian Katz (’18) and Marcela Barba (’17) and faculty, Professor Claudia Flores and lecturer Nino Guruli, spent this last weekend in Florida, consulting and strategizing with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) on a current clinic study investigating violence against women in the Mexican agriculture industry. CIW is a worker-based human rights organization in Immokalee, Florida with a ground-breaking and successful model for protecting farmworkers from the worst human rights abuses. The Fair Food Program (FFP) devised and implemented by the Coalition forms a unique partnership among farmworkers, tomato growers and retail buyers, and erects a private mechanism for safeguarding workers from wage theft, gender based violence, modern day slavery, and human trafficking. Prior to the implementation of the FFP, workers in Immokalee, like many others in the agricultural industry across the nation, faced wage theft and horrendous violence.  Recently, the director of CIW, Greg Asbed, was awarded a MacArthur Genius grant and, last year, the organization received a James Beard leadership award and in, 2015, the Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking.

In preparation for the upcoming fact-finding mission to Mexico, the International Human Rights Clinic team sat down with the farmworkers of CIW to gain a more nuanced understanding of what it is actually like to work on an industrial farm, the state of living conditions as well as conditions of labor, and power dynamics that impede collective action and access to effective safeguards and remedies for gross human rights violations. Following the energetic, engaged, and insightful discussion, the IHRC team took a tour of Immokalee and later joined the Coalition in Miami for a march against Wendy’s and Publix, two holdouts of the Fair Food Program. CIW next heads to NYC with the Harvest without Violence Campaign, continuing to build a broad base of support from citizens and consumers that is the bedrock of their success.