HEAL Platform for Real Food

Almost all of the food we eat passes through the hands of workers who grow, catch, harvest, process, transport, prepare, and serve it. The 21.5 million workers in the food chain constitute the largest segment of employment in the private sector.

When the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were crafted, both purposely excluded workers in occupations dominated by former slaves, such as farmworkers and restaurant workers, among others. As a result, our current food system is devastating workers and their families, and by extension, our overall economy. More than 86 percent of workers in the food system earn low or poverty wages. Ironically, food workers face higher levels of food insecurity than the rest of the U.S. workforce. In fact, food system workers use food stamps at more than twice the rate of all other industries. There are exceptions, but many food workers experience work environments with health and safety violations, including wage theft, sexual abuse, threats of deportation, long hours with few breaks, and lack of access to health benefits.

We want and need a food system that recognizes and values the important work of food system workers, and enables ALL people to work with dignity, livable wages, and meaning. Our food system should be managed by more cooperative ownership and shaped more democratically by the decisions of the many, not the few.

Our Solutions

  • Eliminate the tipped minimum wage and set a livable minimum wage
  • End exploitation of incarcerated people on penal farms and for food production
  • Equalize labor laws; extend all NLRA and FLSA protections to farmworkers and other exempt workers Include worker and community reports of violations in environmental and labor standards enforcement
  • Increase labor protections and benefits for workers in the food and agriculture sectors
  • Mandate third party labor inspections for compliance with worker protections
  • Ratify the remaining six conventions of the United Nations International Labor Organization Reform immigration laws.
  • Create pathways to legalization for all undocumented people, including pathways to citizenship for those that want it, and end deportations until a comprehensive policy is in place
  • Establish federal programs to incentivize worker-owned food production, processing, and service-cooperatives
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