News from Washington: The President Heard You

by Holly Bukhalter / Topic: Justice Campaigns September 24, 2012

On Tuesday, 9/25, the President of the United States gave a speech in New York that squarely addressed the issue of modern day slavery and included several new initiatives to combat it  A Presidential Initiative is exactly what IJM and other groups have been requesting.  In January, 2012, IJM launched a sign-on letter to President Obama asking him to exert his leadership on the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by speaking to the General Assembly about modern day slavery, by “funding the fight” against slavery by initiating new funding for liberating slaves and prosecuting perpetrators, and to eliminate slavery in the U.S. supply chain.  Read More

Holly's News From Washington - September 2012

by Holly Burkhalter / Topic: Justice Campaigns September 10, 2012

On September 4, friends of IJM made at least 2,399 phone calls urging their Senators to pass the most important piece of human rights legislation of our day: the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). I say “at least” 2,399 because that is how many calls were logged on IJM’s Justice Campaigns website, but many others probably called—and asked their friends and relatives to do the same.  Together, we reached 98 Senate offices! 

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Slavery in Tomato Farms: A Day in Immokalee

by Crystal Brunton, IJM Advocate, Florida / Topic: Justice Campaigns, Recipe for Change September 9, 2012

Crystal Brunton is a volunteer for IJM and helps lead the advocacy efforts in her home state of Florida. This past summer, Crystal drove 170 miles down to Immokalee, Fla. where she documented her first-hand experience meeting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and tomato pickers in the area. 

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Post Op-Ed: Fair Food Program helps end the use of slavery in the tomato fields

/ Topic: Justice Campaigns, Recipe for Change September 3, 2012

Check out yesterday’s op-ed in the Washington Post written by Holly Burkhalter, IJM vice president of government relations. Holly writes about the importance of the Fair Food Program in ending slavery in Florida’s tomato fields.

“Since 1997, the Justice Department has prosecuted seven cases of slavery in the Florida agricultural industry — four involving tomato harvesters — freeing more than 1,000 men and women. The stories are a catalogue of horrors: abductions, pistol whippings, confinement at gunpoint, debt bondage and starvation wages.

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Slavery in America: Motivated by their Faith to Fight

/ Topic: Justice Campaigns, Recipe for Change August 26, 2012

The first meetings that led to the formation of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers took place in a church basement.  And ever since the CIW’s inception in the mid-1990s, men and women motivated by their faith have raised strong voices  calling for justice and freedom for farmworkers in Florida’s tomato fields.  This week, we want to share resources provided by some of the people and congregations in this work as a response to God’s call “to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.” Read More

When Supermarkets Opt Out of Fair Food: The Problem with Going It Alone

by Eileen Campbell, Director of Justice Campaigns / Topic: Justice Campaigns, Recipe for Change August 20, 2012

Earlier this month, I sent a letter to the CEOs of Ahold, Kroger, and Publix, asking them to join the Fair Food Program (FFP). Under the leadership of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the FFP was developed by farmworkers and tomato growers in Florida, and has made enormous strides in ending slavery and other serious abuses on Florida’s tomato farms.  The Program requires participating buyers (like supermarkets) to pay a bit more for tomatoes (a penny and a half per pound) to support a small wage increase for tomato farmworkers, and to require their suppliers to abide by the Fair Food Code of Conduct.   The Code of Conduct includes a zero tolerance policy for slavery and other serious abuses; buyers commit to purchasing their tomatoes from growers who abide by the Code, and not from those who won’t.   The FFP is overseen by an independent monitoring system called the Fair Food Standards Council. Read More

SLAVERY IN AMERICA: Julia’s Story

/ Topic: Justice Campaigns, Recipe for Change August 19, 2012

Throughout our Recipe for Change campaign this summer, we’ll be sharing stories about slavery in Florida’s tomato fields. We are grateful to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for providing this story.

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In 1992, a hopeful 19-year-old named Julia left war-torn Guatemala for the United States; her mother, earning a meager $55 a month, was struggling to support her family. Julia hoped to find work in the U.S. in order to send money back to help.  Little did she know what awaited.  “Here I was, thinking I was coming to America for a better life – but this was a real nightmare,” she recalled. Read More

Holly’s News from Washington – August 2012

by Holly Burkhalter / Topic: Justice Campaigns August 12, 2012

I have testified many times over my 30-year career as an international human rights activist.  I remember only too vividly my very first one.  It was on the subject of human rights in Romania, and I believe the year was 1983.  I was so frightened I almost fainted at the witness table. I’m sure my voice quavered and I’ll bet I said “uh” every other word.  Somehow, in spite of me, the message about Romanian human rights got through, and the Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee were kind. 

Public speaking became easier with practice, of course, and I came to love it.  Over the years, I testified on dozens of countries and issues:  Genocide.  HIV/AIDS.  Sexual assault.  U.S. human rights policy.  Conflict diamonds.  Labor rights.

But I’ve never had so much fun in my life than when I got to testify on July 17 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Read More

Your Voice Matters: Plan an In-District Meeting with Your Members of Congress

by Eileen Campbell / Topic: Justice Campaigns August 12, 2012

Your Voice Matters: Plan an In-District Meeting with Your Members of Congress

During the month of August, senators and representatives return home to their states and districts for a congressional recess—a perfect opportunity for you to schedule an in-district meeting with them in your area. Your priorities matter to them most, so make sure your voice is heard this summer!

Kim Merida, an advocate from North Carolina, shared with us about meeting with her elected officials last summer.

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SLAVERY IN AMERICA: Talking tomatoes and justice at the dinner table

/ Topic: Justice Campaigns, Recipe for Change August 12, 2012

“Children can use their imaginations in such beautiful ways. We have been inspired by our children to think more creatively and courageously about how we can use our time, talent and resources to join God in the beautiful work of justice.” – Marta Sears

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