Events in recent years have triggered a reawakening across the United States of a movement that acknowledges the importance of worker rights and of protecting the livelihoods of this country’s working class. Historically, however, one group of workers has routinely been excluded from the gains made by the larger labor movement, i.e. farmworkers—the people who weed, pick, harvest, and pack, often in 100 degree weather, while routinely being exposed to hazardous chemicals.
Approximately 700,000 farmworkers reside in California at any given time. Farm employment is unstable and the average farmworker is employed for only seven months of the year (nine months in California). For female workers the employment season is even shorter. Jobs are scarce, even during high season. In California, about 350,000 jobs are available from April to October and 275,000 from November to March. Historically, migrant workers returned home during the winter months. However, with the increased militarization of the border, this practice has become harder and many migrants remain in the U.S. out of fear even in the rainy season when they have little or no income. And although a majority of farmworkers are male, women and children are increasingly crossing the border and entering the workforce, as men can no longer maintain a seasonal migration.
"We want to make visible not only the work that women do in the workplace but also outside--in the sphere of social reproduction."
Doug Henwood Interviews organizer Cinzia Arruzza about the theory and practice that grounds the organizing of the International Women's Day Strike in the United States in 2017. Aruzza is anAssistant Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. Originally broadcast on KPFA on March 16, 2017
Climate Justice Groups Release Report
The roots of the environmental justice movement lie in an archetypical struggle between low-income communities of color and industrial polluters—refineries, incinerators, landfills, and dirty ports, to name a few. In the last few years, leaders of this movement have worked ardently to infuse an environmental politic into racial and economic justice campaigns and to underscore local control of common resources and community-based solutions to social and ecological ills.
Now the fruits of this labor are becoming evident. What was seen as isolated pockets of noxious industrial impacts are now being viewed as symptoms of larger phenomena that create other social inequities. People are connecting the impacts of toxic industry to other injustices, such as forced migration and poverty jobs, and coming together to address these multiple crises.
On a hot July afternoon in Detroit last summer, over 300 movement organizers from across the United States gathered to plot a course for ecological justice as part of the U.S. Social Forum. “We come from environmental justice communities who have been on the frontlines of the effects of polluting industries like waste incineration. But [we] also come from economic justice struggles... and immigrant [communities that] understand the connection between land and life,” said Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, strategy initiatives director for Movement Generation based in Oakland, California.
"The growing “bio-economy” is based on control, manipulation and commodification of life… things like microbial factories that are producing industrial food products, that will make fuels and pharmaceuticals, seeds and now even species.” —Gopal Dayaneni
Dr. Vandana Shiva, the internationally known author, scientist and advocate for small farmers and agroecology, spoke with Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California in September 2013. This conversation was part of a series of conversations hosted by the group synbiowatch.org that expose the growing “bio-economy,” which Dayaneni calls “an economy based on control, manipulation and commodification of life… things like microbial factories that are producing industrial food products, that will make fuels and pharmaceuticals, seeds and now even species.” U.C. Berkeley, The Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and the private corporations that are subsidized by it, are central to this developing bio-economy. The federal government and multinational corporations see the bioeconomy as a new frontier to be conquered.