The Story Behind the Immigrant Workers in Bernie Sanders’ Stirring New Ad

… Lauding Worker Organizing – Published on In These Times, by Michelle Chen, March 9, 2016.

Bernie Sanders’ newest campaign video, which will air tomorrow night on the Spanish-language channel Univision, features the candidate ceding the spotlight to a representative group that doesn’t get a lot of play in most political ads: a migrant mother, speaking entirely in Spanish, who works in Florida’s farm fields. The story behind the workers featured in the ad is one of quiet and passionate organizing far outside the Beltway … //

… Sanders discussed the workers’ plight in an interview with the Coalition’s homegrown low-power FM station. And back on Capitol Hill, he amplified the workers’ message of corporate accountability and economic justice. The unrest that would explode after the 2007-2008 financial crisis was still on the horizon, but Sanders struck a chord with the disaffected when he announced an initiative he was spearheading with Senators Ted Kennedy, Richard Durbin and Sherrod Brown to pressure Burger King and the producer-cartel Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to agree to CIW’s reform program: an additional penny paid to workers per pound picked … //

… Today, the Fair Food campaign has secured agreements with an estimated 90 percent of tomato growers and four major fast food brands, including McDonald’s and Burger King. The organizers are now trying to lock down the mainstream supermarket sector after scoring agreements from Walmart, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Lacking the full force of a labor union, the CIW hasn’t resolved all the problems in the industry. But it has provided significant wage increases and instituted comprehensive safety standards. Under a comprehensive Code of Conduct, workers have sought recourse for more than 1000 disputes over issues like wage theft and sexual and verbal abuse.

The new Sanders campaign video captures the tenor of 2008, when economic collapse was upturning the status quo and forced some once-divided groups to adopt a common language of class struggle. The five-minute video is more of a miniature documentary about a worker-led campaign that forged a template for labor organizing in a globalized economy—perhaps a metaphor for the Sanders’ campaign, but also an example of how Sanders and his backers see his campaign as bigger than this election cycle. The video does not highlight Sanders’s presidential platform, but speaks to a deeper grassroots ethos of social change from which his politics emerged.

One of CIW’s member-activists, Udelia, reflects on the group’s progress over the past several years. “Politicians never came to Immokalee” before Sanders’s made his visit, she recalls. “He didn’t keep silent about what he witnessed here in Immokalee. … There are now more rights and worker support. We started to see changes in our wages. It really improved our lives. I could buy small things for my children. This changes a person.”

The Coalition is now embarking on a multi-state protest march, while their old ally Bernie is barreling ahead on the campaign trail. Their two intersecting paths, which will cross soon in the Florida primary, continue the momentum that started eight years ago. The sense of collective outrage they articulated then has only grown louder, inspiring other grassroots movements and stoking fierce reaction from the right. Neither the workers nor the Senator expects immediate victory to be on the horizon, but they’ve never doubted they’re headed in the right direction. So far, neither have been proven wrong.

(full text, hyperlinks).

(Michelle Chen is a contributing editor at In These Times, a contributor to Working In These Times, and an editor at CultureStrike. She is also a co-producer of Asia Pacific Forum on Pacifica’s WBAI. Her work has appeared on Alternet,, Ms., and The Nation, Newsday, and her old zine, cain. Follow her on Twitter at @meeshellchen or reach her at michellechen [at] inthesetimes [dot] com).

(PRESS RELEASE in spanish: Tenemos Familias, 5.21 min, on In These Times, March 5, 2016).


Gilad Cohen and Amar Wala on human rights, podcasting and hope, on, by FACE2FACE, arch 13, 2016;

Once hosting Lawrence of Arabia & Agatha Christie, Aleppo’s iconic hotel now shelters refugees, on RT, March 14, 2016;

New and Old Strategies for Ending the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela – part 1, 11.43 min, on The Real News, by Greg Wilpert, March 12, 2016: Prof. Steve Ellner discusses US intervention in Venezuela, the opposition’s amnesty law, and their latest strategies for ousting the president … with transcript;
(also on YouTube, part 1, 11.43 min; part 2: 11.20 min);

INDIA: NPS Withdrawals Made Partially Income-Tax Exempt, Should You Invest? on Profit NDTV (Canada), March 12, 2016;

CANADA: Manitoba has given up on deficits, on Winnipeg Free Press, by Todd MacKay, March 11, 2016;

A Russian trial balloon, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Bassel Oudat, March 10, 2016: Russia has floated the idea of a Syrian federation, pleasing the country’s Kurds but angering the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people;

Dollar crunch continues, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Sherine Abdel-Razek, March 10, 2016: recent moves by the Central Bank of Egypt have not improved the country’s dollar crunch – The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) held an exceptional dollar auction on Sunday, selling $500 million to the banks at LE7.73 per dollar to cover a backlog of essential imports. The value of the auction was almost 10 times that of the regular auction the CBE holds three times a week to pump dollars into the country’s banking sector …;

The Secret War Crime, on TIME, March 10, 2016;

US: The Air Force’s new $1 Trillion (Pentagon’s next-generation) Fighter Jet has a Software Bug so stupid it’s amazing, on YAHOOnews, by Tom McKay, March 8, 2016;

Are Open Borders the Solution to the Refugee Crisis? on In These Times, by Michelle Chen, Oct 12, 2015: Activists and experts debate who really benefits from opening borders: migrants or corporations;

… and this:

Sounds of Nature, uploaded by austinstruck:

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