(October 2013) After two decades of work, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) was recently recognized with the Freedom from Want Medal by the Roosevelt Institute. CIW is an internationally-recognized human rights organization working to eliminate modern-day slavery and sweatshop labor conditions in agriculture in Florida. The Fair Food Program, with its principal architect being a workers’ organization, has a unique design and structure, all constructed with one goal in mind: to protect farmworkers’ rights.
Many UU congregations have supported CIW through campaigns and contributions, but Florida UU congregations stand out: they have supported CIW for many years and have been instrumental in organizing interfaith awareness and action.
For more than 13 years, the UU Congregation of Clearwater has had an active partnership with CIW and supported their work with educational and letter-writing campaigns, boycotts, picketing and marching within a larger interfaith effort. In March of 2013, UUC supported the CIW 200-mile march on Publix by providing lunch for 300 marchers. In December of 2012, UUC members protested at the Publix market in Dunedin. UCC has also been involved in FAST, a new multicultural, interfaith Social Justice Group in Pinellas County. Through the connection with CIW, the congregation helped organize support for compassionate immigration reform on the state and local level. In June 2013, the UUA awarded the Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Actionto UUC. Read more on the UUA website.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers also has a lengthy history of education and advocacy for CIW. Rev. Allison Farnum serves as a Board member of Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida. 1st U Orlando, UU Lakeland, and UUFC (Port Charlotte) are also very involved.