The first time Yuris Reyes asked for paid sick leave, she was turned down. “My bosses told me that paid sick leave was only for the managers and not something I was entitled to,” says the Philadelphia restaurant worker. That didn’t sound right to Yuris, who is a member of El Comité de Trabajadorxs de Restaurante (the Restaurant Workers Committee), a local advocacy group. She filed an anonymous complaint about her employer with the city of Philadelphia, which has had a paid sick leave law on the books since 2015. The next time she was ill and needed a leave, Yuris showed her employers a link to the relevant city law. “I had fever-like symptoms and I called out sick. When I came back, I was paid for all my sick time, without an issue in my next check.
Food and Agriculture
On a humid summer morning in the mountain-backed metropolis of Gwangju, a cluster of fifth graders shuffled into an auditorium at 5.18 Freedom Park. Here were the former barracks where the South Korean military dictator Chun Doo-hwan and his forces imprisoned, interrogated, tortured, and in some cases killed thousands of civilians in May of 1980. Today, Koreans refer to these events as “5.18,” marking the first day of the Gwangju Uprising, when city residents demanded democracy in the wake of Chun’s 1979 power grab after the assassination of Park Chung-hee, the previous dictator president. The Chun regime’s brutal response still reverberates in the lives of the city’s residents. As the young students took a breather from their field trip, a guide passed out jumbo rice balls called jumeokbap, or “fist rice.”
Farming initiatives at COP27 will be dominated by agri-business players and will lack farmers’ voices, sustainable campaigners and small-holders organisations have warned ahead of the global summit’s day devoted to agriculture. For the first time, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathered in these days in Egypt will address food systems and agriculture. A dedicated Agriculture and Food Pavillion at the COP27 premises has been set by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the global partnership Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and the philanthropic organisation Rockefeller Foundation.
Well, originally it was Ligia Guallpa, the director of the Worker’s Justice Project, who helped us start organizing in the streets. We met her at a march, and she started to talk to us about the power we could have by organizing. And that’s what we’ve been figuring out little by little. We have big WhatsApp groups where we communicate with all of our comrades, we have the Los Deliveristas Unidos Facebook page, we have GPS groups, and radio groups. We have a lot of tools to organize ourselves and take care of each other out here in the streets. Early on, we began to organize ourselves. We had a small group here of fellow workers, friends, and acquaintances that came from the same part of Mexico, and we started to organize because we were having issues with crime.
Colorado - Colorado voters are largely in favor of Proposition FF, which would provide the state’s students with free school meals — no matter their families’ incomes. With tax deduction limits in place, the price tag would fall on wealthy Coloradans. About 55% of voters backed the measure, with 1,011,114 votes, as of 9:07 a.m. on Wednesday, according to unofficial results on the Colorado Secretary of State Office’s website. That number includes all 64 counties, although post-election reporting is still in progress. The initiative would establish and fund the Healthy School Meals for All Program. It would boost taxes for households with incomes higher than $300,000 by curbing state income tax deductions. The move would impact about 114,000 joint and single-filer tax returns, or about 5% of those filed in Colorado.
A proposed deal between two of the biggest grocery chains in the U.S. — Kroger and Albertsons — has many thousands of workers worried about losing their jobs. It also raises the possibility of more food deserts and worsening food prices. Grocery prices have already risen by nearly 12% in the latest capitalist inflation crisis. If the deal goes through, the new corporation will control 20% of the U.S. grocery market with 5,000 stores in the 48 contiguous states. Corporate mergers are always followed by a period of consolidation of assets. That means closures of some stores and layoffs. Both Kroger and Albertsons have a history of disregarding workers’ rights and turning their backs on the communities that have brought them billions of dollars.
As economies tumble, inflation surges and global food prices soar to critically high levels, two sectors seem to have hit the jackpot in 2022 – energy giants and grain traders. An estimated 345 million people may now be in acute food insecurity, compared with 135 million before the pandemic. Vulnerable populations face destitution in poorer food-importing countries such as Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia. Poor consumers in rich countries are struggling to put food on the table. Supply shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been the spark for this inferno of hunger. But the kindling for the fire was already stoked: the severe, underlying weaknesses in our food system. These include many countries’ heavy reliance on food imports, entrenched production systems, financial speculation, and cycles of poverty and debt.
Plympton, Massachusetts - Teamsters in Plympton, Massachusetts, won their strike at America's largest wholesale food distributor with an old-fashioned militant tactic: the mass picket line. The Sysco strike broke out on October 1. At first there were 100 workers, each with a picket sign, walking a little circle in the driveway leading to the warehouse. But in the early morning of Monday, October 17, a throng of fellow Teamsters swelled the crowd to 400. A dozen positioned their tractor-trailers athwart exits to block scabs from leaving and entering. Thirteen workers got arrested. And three days later, Teamster Local 653 members ratified a new contract, 215-2, with an $11 boost in pay over five years, improved retirement, and untouched health insurance benefits.
Rising sea levels and extreme flooding in Bangladesh are devastating lives and livelihoods. This year, floods in Bangladesh killed more than 100 people and, according to AFP, eroded at least 1,800 hectares (4,500 acres) of land according to estimates by Bangladesh’s Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS). The homes of at least 10,000 people were also affected. Totally, as many as 7.2 million have been affected by the floods, as per the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Cross Societies, and nearly half a million had to flee their homes and take refuge elsewhere as water levels rose this summer. As per a report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February, climate change is also severely impacting the country’s food production. According to *New Age Bangladesh,* the report points with alarm to the “declining production” of basic food grains such as rice and wheat, by 12-17% and 12-61%, respectively, by “mid-century.”
A US-led sustainable farming initiative, which aims to raise billions of dollars to tackle climate change, has been criticized for favouring big business and promoting uncertain techno-fixes ahead of U.N. climate talks in Egypt in November. Launched at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last year by the U.S. and United Arab Emirates governments, the AIM for Climate (Aim4C) coalition pledged to accelerate innovation in agriculture and food systems to support climate action. Alongside 40 states, partners include major agribusinesses, such as Brazilian meat giant JBS, and agricultural trade groups such as CropLife International, as well as research centres such as the University of Edinburgh’s Climate Change Institute. Multi-billion-dollar nonprofits the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Nature Conservancy are also taking part.
Over the past six months, Sri Lanka has been in the news. You have likely read accounts or seen videos of a civil revolution sparked by government corruption and shortages of both food and fuel. Amidst this uprising — involving all religions, ethnicities, and classes of the population with a call for systems change — thousands of protestors stormed and occupied the presidential palace, forcing the president to flee in July. In a world beset by supply chain issues, where the war in Ukraine is one of the multiple factors compromising the world’s food supply, it seems that Sri Lanka is the proverbial “canary in the coal mine.” It’s the first domino to fall, as a worldwide globalized economy based on large-scale, corporate monoculture and shipping food halfway across the planet wobbles toward collapse.
Seattle, Washington - Unions representing grocery store workers — UFCW 7 in Colorado, UFCW 324 and UFCW 770 in California, UFCW 367 in Tacoma, UFCW 3000 across Washington state, and Teamsters 38 in Everett — issued the following joint statement on Thursday decrying the proposed merger of Kroger and Albertsons. (In Washington state, Kroger operates as Fred Meyer and QFC, and Albertsons also operates as Safeway.) Today it was reported that grocery store giant Kroger could announce a deal this week to buy rival grocery store company Albertsons, resulting in a potential merger that would significantly harm local grocery store industries, essential grocery store workers, and customers across the western US from Southern California to the Canadian border to Colorado.
What a thrill to learn that Cecosesola (Central de Cooperativas de Lara) -- the Venezuelan network of community organizations from low-income areas – has won the 2022 Right Livelihood Award! Cecosesola is a federation of co-operatives and other groups that has created its own distinct social and economic ecosystem. Since 1967, the group has relied on commoning to develop a humane provisioning system that meets the needs of more than 100,000 families across seven Venezuelan states. The Right Livelihood Award cites Cecosesola for "establishing an equitable and cooperative economic model as a robust alternative to profit-driven economies." It has achieved this in the face of serious problems in Venezuela – a financial crisis, food shortages, hyper-inflation, and a massive out-migration of 7 million people.
A U.S. District Court has held that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s decision to allow genetically engineered (GMO) foods to only be labeled with a “QR” code was unlawful and that USDA must instead add additional disclosure options to those foods under USDA’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. The Court sent back to the agency the QR code portions of the 2018 Trump administration rules for GMO labeling that went into effect on January 1, 2022, which hindered consumer access with burdensome electronic or digital disclosures. “This is a victory for all Americans,” said Meredith Stevenson, Center for Food Safety (CFS) staff attorney and counsel in the case. “Today’s decision marks a key step toward ending the food industry’s deceptive and discriminatory GMO food labeling practices, which have kept consumers in the dark by concealing what’s in their products.”
Industrial palm oil production in West and Central Africa is mainly controlled by five companies: Socfin, Wilmar, Olam, Siat, and Straight KKM (former Feronia). These multinationals control an estimated 67 per cent of the industrial oil palm planted area with foreign investment and may drive continuous expansion. (1) Their established industrial plantations have been linked to numerous impacts on the populations and territories. The impact on water availability for communities that live in and around industrial oil palm plantations is systematic and dramatic. This is becoming increasingly evident with the many community reports of water scarcity and water pollution. Industrial plantations often lead to loss of lakes, springs or streams, directly affecting the livelihoods and wellbeing of communities.