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This period included community-wide work stoppages in 1995, 19; a 30-day hunger strike undertaken by six members in 1998; and a 230-mile march from Ft. By 1998, these protests "won industry-wide raises of 13-25% (translating into several million dollars annually for the community in increased wages)....Those raises brought the tomato picking piece rate back to pre-1980 levels (the piece rate had fallen below those levels over the course of the intervening two decades), but wages remained below poverty level and continuing improvement was slow in coming." The CIW launched a boycott of Taco Bell in 2001, holding the company accountable for the wages and working conditions of farmworkers in its tomato supply chain.In November 2010, an agreement was reached between the CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to implement the Fair Food Program – "including a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process – to over 90% of the Florida tomato industry.".
On April 15, 2008, the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held hearings on "Ending Abuses and Improving Working Conditions for Tomato Workers" in which Reggie Brown claimed farmworkers earned an average wage of "between $10.50 and $14.86 per hour." Lucas Benitez of the CIW and Senators Bernie Sanders (VT-I) and Dick Durbin (IL-D) disputed Brown's claim by citing contradictory evidence.
The senators also scrutinized the legal basis for the FTGE's resistance to the Campaign for Fair Food.
The group's organizing philosophy is based on principles of popular education and leadership development.
One of the CIW's first accomplishments was to establish a cooperative to sell staple foods and other necessities at cost in order to combat price gouging by local merchants.
The CIW helps fight this crime by uncovering, investigating, and assisting in the federal prosecution of slavery rings preying on hundreds of farmworkers. Additionally, the CIW is a regional coordinator for the Freedom Network Training Institute on Human Trafficking (FNTI).
In such situations, captive workers are held against their will by their employers through threats and, all too often, the actual use of violence – including beatings, shootings, and pistol-whippings." The CIW is a founding member of the national Freedom Network U. In this capacity, the CIW trains state and federal law enforcement and NGOs on how to identify and assist people held in slavery operations.
The CIW argued that when major buyers such as Taco Bell leverage their volume purchasing power to demand discounts from their suppliers, they create strong downward pressure on wages and working conditions in these suppliers' operations.
A 2004 study by Oxfam America confirmed this trend: "Squeezed by the buyers of their produce, growers pass on the costs and risks imposed on them to those on the lowest rung of the supply chain: the farmworkers they employ." During the Taco Bell Boycott, the CIW worked closely with religious and community groups and a student network, the Student/Farmworker Alliance, to pressure Taco Bell from different angles. Brands, Inc., parent company of Taco Bell, agreed to all of the CIW's demands, After the Taco Bell Boycott, the Campaign for Fair Food shifted its focus to the rest of the fast-food industry.
Workers could receive an increase in annual wages from ,000-12,000 a year to ,000 if additional large buyers agree to the increase.
In an editorial, the New York Times described the agreement as a "remarkable victory in a 15-year struggle for better pay and working conditions...
During Summer 2015, the Fair Food Program expanded to large operations of Florida-based tomato growers in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey.