Fair Work for All People: Momentum Builds for Real Change
Play • 45 min

Momentum is building across the country and across industries for fair livelihoods and decent work for all people - including farmworkers, who have historically been excluded from too many protections. As this movement for fair work spreads, we catch up with Crispin Hernandez of Workers’ Center of Central New York.  

Fair Trade USA’s new “fair trade” dairy label has been on Chobani’s Greek yogurt for nearly a year now, but little has changed for farmworkers. Instead, most of them don’t even know what “fair trade” is and haven’t seen the benefits that are getting sold to ethical consumers. But that’s not stopping Crispin and his allies from pushing for better protections for all farmworkers, including overtime pay at 40 hours/week. 

Topics covered include:

  • The history behind a 40-hour work week and how farmworkers have been unjustly excluded from those workplace protections.
  • Growing momentum across the United States for farmworkers to be paid overtime after 40 hours of work.
  • Almost one year after “fair trade dairy” appeared on store shelves, farmworkers’ still don’t know what fair trade is or what benefits and rights they should have.
  • What “fair trade committees” are, how they’re described in the press, and what workers actually experience.  
  • Chobani’s commitment to charity, instead of changing the conditions that force people to depend on that charity. 
  • The real physical consequences of overwork on workers’ health and wellbeing - and how hard it is to get healthcare, even on a farm in the fair trade program.
  • The Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act in New York state and the campaign to lower the overtime threshold to 40 hours for farmworkers. 
  • How fear of retaliation continues under the fair trade program, and has far-reaching consequences

Do you work on a farm participating in the “Fair Trade Dairy” program? We want to hear your perspective. Send a message to info@fairworldproject.org or call (800) 631-9980.

“Milked: Immigrant Farmworkers in New York State” is definitive research into the conditions on dairy farms in New York, presented by Workers’ Center of Central New York to Chobani: https://milkedny.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/milked_053017.pdf

Jacobin Magazine article highlighting the ways the new “fair trade” dairy program is failing workers: https://jacobinmag.com/2022/01/dairy-farmworkers-unions-safety-new-york-rwdsu-ufcw

Fair World Project’s report on the “fair trade dairy” label and the standards behind it: https://fairworldproject.org/choose-fair/certifier-analysis/fair-trade-usa-fair-trade-dairy-chobani-failings/

Margaret Gray’s op-ed on why so few farm worker voices were heard at the New York state wage board meeting: https://www.newsday.com/opinion/commentary/farmworkers-1.50487280

Report highlighting the connections between overtime for farm workers and workplace health and safety:  https://oregonfarmworkerovertime.org/

More on the origins of farmworkers’ exclusion from workplace protections, and the worker-led movements for change: https://www.feministfoodjournal.com/post/power-to-the-people-how-worker-led-movements-are-changing-the-dairy-industry

A Farmer’s Guide to the New York state Department of Labor: https://dol.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/07/p130.pdf

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