Sweatshops in the Fields

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Today, the agro-industrial complex behind the average American meal has achieved a degree of consolidation and a level of exploitation unprecedented in global history.  A small handful of multinational corporations, unfamiliar to most consumers—like Cargill, Monsanto, and Archer Daniels Midland, among others—sit atop a complex global supply chain supported by child labor, forced labor, and debt bondage by which small farmers are trapped by the companies from whom they buy their seeds and to whom they must sell their products at unsustainable prices.  ILRF is committed to fighting for justice for workers on a variety of fronts in food and agricultural supply chains and is a proud member of the Food Chain Workers Alliance.

Learn more about the crisis of workers rights in the food and agricultural products:

Many of these products are imported duty-free into the U.S. from countries under Free Trade Agreements or trade preference programs. Read more about the need to reform global trade policies here. Learn more about the barriers facing the agricultural industry's most vulnerable groups, women and migrant workers.

Just a few food processing companies such as Kraft, Nestle, Unilever and Dole, who own the majority of the world’s recognizable brands, rely on keeping labor costs low to keep their profit margin favorably wide.  Finally, consumers interact with retail giants like Wal-Mart who sell their tainted products at unbelievably low prices to working-class families faced with the impacts of a global race to the bottom.A sustained movement connecting global producers with consumers in the U.S. and around the world is in the struggle to hold global corporations accountable and develop a space for workers and farmers to organize and to negotiate for fair working conditions.

ILRF has pressured these companies over the years into improving labor standards in their global supply chains.  We have seen a disturbing trend over time:as retail giants like Wal-Mart push small businesses into bankruptcy and acquire an ever-growing share of the market, they demand lower and lower prices from producers like Dole.  Producer companies do what it takes to comply to make a profit, placing even more pressure on the workers who physically produce and process the food.  The casualties in this scenario, are the women, men and children toiling in the fields to feed the world for cheap, but all too often unable to feed their own families.

Join ILRF in demanding that food and agricultural workers be guaranteed safe and equitable jobs worldwide!