Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fair Food Means Fair Wages

IAIJ joins the protest at McDonald's restaurant at NE University Avenue and Waldo Road in Gainesville on Thursday December 5 as part of a nationwide demand by fast-food workers to be paid a living wage.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Calling on Wendy's to Support Fair Food

A delegation from Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice visited Wendy's at 3611 SW Archer Road in Gainesville on Sunday afternoon December 1 to ask the local manager to remind corporate leadership that consumers want Wendy's to join the other fast-food tomato buyers who have signed the Fair Food Agreement providing farm workers with a living wage and decent working conditions.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Breaking Bread, Building Bridges" October 29.

Gainesville's Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice and Westminster Presbyterian Church will work together to introduce a new program to encourage dialogue about immigration issues in local faith communities.  Church members and student activists from IAIJ and CHISPAS will share their stories and talk about the pressing human need for comprehensive immigration reform.

The supper will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday October 29 in the Community Building of Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1525 NW 34th Street, Gainesville, Florida.

Everyone is invited – please bring a dish to share. There will be a discussion on immigrant issues and sharing how our families immigrated to this country. Please contact the Westminster Church Office at 352-378-4032 or email if you will be attending.

We hope this pilot project will be taken up by other faith communities in Gainesville and Alachua County.
Alachua County Migrants Share Their Stories in New Documentary Film First Screened October 1

"Siempre Adelante" a documentary film about recent immigrants in Alachua County, Florida had its world premiere at Pugh Hall on the University of Florida campus October 1.  Rev. Jaime Zelaya had the idea for a film that could be used in faith communities and other settings to help local residents better understand their new neighbors.  The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at UF helped him bring the project to completion.
"Siempre Adelante" will be available for screening as copies were made for all IAIJ congregations.

                                        Candy Herrera and Marihelen Wheeler lead the march down NW 34th Street

We began with a rally at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where Rev. Larry Green is pastor.  Westminster youth led by Rev. Paige Porter-Buhl and United Church of Gainesville (UCC) led by Rev. Andy Bachmann made signs and banners. 

 We heard speakers challenge us to hear the Florida farm workers' cry for justice.

                                              Lupe Gonzalo and Oscar Otzoy from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

                                                            Rev. Eve MacMaster of Emmanuel Mennonite Church 
                                                               Dr. Sam Trickey of National Farm Worker Ministry
                                       Father Les Singleton of the Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Micanopy, FL

A heavy rain doesn't stop youth

or age

from demonstrating for fair food at Publix

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers Appreciate Gainesville 

Tropical downpour only whets Fair Food activists’ appetite for action on big first day of Southeast tour…

The Publix Truth Tour launched yesterday with a dramatic send-off from some of the CIW’s most stalwart allies in Gainesville. The partnership between Immokalee and Gainesville is so strong, in fact, that the day’s activities marked not only the beginning of the Truth Tour, but also the culmination of the city’s annual “CIW week,” a full seven days of local education, activities and action to call for fairness in the fields.
The Tour crew filed its report from the field early this morning, so here it is below, hot off the presses:
After spending the morning with the adult Sunday School class of Trinity United Methodist Church and the combined youth groups of United Church of Gainesville — followed by an official welcome to Gainesville with a thirty-person potluck hosted by the indefatigable Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice at the Emmanuel Mennonite Church — the Fair Food community of Gainesville gathered for a press conference and march to a nearby Publix.
Eighty five supporters packed the foyer of Westminster Presbyterian Church as the CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo and Oscar Otzoy began by explaining what had propelled them to undertake this two-week tour. In a tone steadfast and resolute, Lupe underscored the power of the Fair Food Program in addressing the sexual harassment that has for decades been the “daily bread” of women in the fields. ”Women finally have an effective mechanism to report abuses without fear of retaliation,” she stressed. “But not only that, they can be assured that an assailant will be banned from the industry” — a dramatic departure from a culture long thought to be too deeply entrenched to uproot. This, she explained, is what Publix actively chooses to undermine.
Sam Trickey (below) of the National Farm Worker Ministry took the mic next, addressing the biblical passage, “the poor will always be with you.” The poor will be always with us, he explained, because it will always in someone’s short-term interest to exploit others. But over the long-term, the oppressor can never come out ahead, as their actions fly in the face of the “biblical witness of justice.”
Next up was Father Les Singleton (below) of the Church of the Mediator, who brought with him a purchase he had just made at Publix: a bag of Publix Fair Trade coffee. Reading directly from the side of the bag, he let the hypocrisy of the written statement speak for itself: “Fair trade is only fair. Fair trade prices help small farmers provide employees with liveable wages and working conditions, which fosters the same values that we do: community, wellbeing and a nicer world.”
And then, just as the press conference closed, the skies opened and a downpour commenced. But the now-100 gathered didn’t skip a beat, setting out toward Publix almost as though they hadn’t noticed the heavy rain. With a sizable contingent from UF’s CHISPAS leading chants, the intrepid marchers kept on for over a mile before arriving at the high-traffic Publix and forming their roving picket. Though colors of newly hand-painted signs bled together and t-shirts soaked through, not even the relentless showers could dampen the crew’s animo.
In fact, resolve only intensified as a delegation of community leaders attempted to speak to Publix management and — in an even harsher than usual variation on the typical snub — management refused to allow even a single emissary to speak. Publix would only accept a letter, they said, knowing very well that a paper letter would have already been turned to pulp beneath the rain. According to a clergy member, they kept cutting off the community leaders and simply repeating, “Thank you for shopping at Publix.”
Upon returning, Rev. Larry Green of Westminster Presbyterian Church addressed the crowd and shared his exasperation with the management’s lack of respect for the delegation. ”They don’t appreciate us as individuals, they don’t appreciate you as workers, and I don’t think they deserve our money any longer.” Agreement rippled through the crowd.
Lupe (below) brought the action to an end with a final appropriate chant: “Ni lluvia, ni viento, detendra este movemiento!” (Neither rain nor wind can deter our movement.)
And as the day came to a close, Gainesville community members congratulated each other on a CIW Week well done and wished the Tour crew well on the rest of the two-week Publix Truth Tour.
You can watch a very nice local TV report on the protest here. And check back soon for the next update from the road, as the Publix Truth Tour hits Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina!


                                        Candy Herrera and Marihelen Wheeler lead the march down NW 34th Street

We began with a rally at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where Rev. Larry Green is pastor.  Westminster youth led by Rev. Paige Porter-Buhl and United Church of Gainesville (UCC) led by Rev. Andy Bachmann made signs and banners. 

 We heard speakers challenge us to hear the Florida farm workers' cry for justice.

                                              Lupe Gonzalo and Oscar Otzoy from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

                                                            Rev. Eve MacMaster of Emmanuel Mennonite Church 
                                                               Dr. Sam Trickey of National Farm Worker Ministry
                                       Father Les Singleton of the Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Micanopy, FL

A heavy rain doesn't stop youth

or age

from demonstrating for fair food at Publix

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Farmworker "Say Yes to Immigration Reform" Caravan Here September 3

A caravan of farm workers is making its way around Florida to meet with Members of Congress and encourage them to support comprehensive immigration reform.  The caravan, sponsored by the Florida Farmworker Association of Apopka, will visit Gainesville Tuesday morning September 3.
The group will visit Congressman Ted Yoho's office at 5000 NW 27th Court at 9 a.m. and then hold a press conference at 11 a.m. at the Mennonite Meeting House, 1236 NW 18th Avenue in Gainesville.  They plan to meet with UF students at noon at La Casita, 1503 West University Avenue, and then proceed to the Plaza of the Americas on the UF campus for lunch and conversation with students and faculty.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

September Week of Action

The annual CIW Week of Action in Gainesville will be September 16-22, 2013 and will feature the launch Sunday afternoon September 22 of a regional campaign by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the southeastern states.  The Modern-Day Slavery Museum will be on the UF campus Wednesday September 18 and at Trinity United Methodist Church Thursday September 19 with presentations by Immokalee farm workers at each location.  The PBS documentary "Rape in the Fields" will be shown Wednesday evening September 18.  More details will be available later.

Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice is currently meeting at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Mennonite Meeting House, 1236 NW 18th Avenue, Gainesville (opposite Gainesville High School, between PNC and Wells Fargo banks).  Our next scheduled meetings will be August 19 and September 9.  You are welcome to join us.

Activities planned for this coming Fall and Winter include a visitation program for undocumented immigrants in the Baker detention center, "Breaking Bread, Building Bridges" suppers to help local congregations understand immigration issues, and an immersion visit to the Immokalee tomato fields during the winter harvest.  We are working closely with Alachua County Coalition Against Human Trafficking on farm labor issues and with Comprehensive Immigration Reform Now! to encourage Congress to fix the broken immigration system.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Press Conference at University Lutheran Church February 22, 2013

Gainesville religious leaders, University of Florida faculty and students gathered at University Lutheran Church on Friday afternoon February 22nd to release a new interfaith clergy letter to Publix and announce the upcoming March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food.  We also introduced a group of thirteen UF students leaving to spend Spring Break in Homestead and learn about migrant worker rights.

Rabbi David Kaiman of Congregation B'nai Israel, Rev. Larry Green of Westminster Presbyterian Church, and Father Les Singleton of the Episcopal Church of the Mediator in Micanopy were among the speakers.

Dr. Samuel Trickey of National Farm Worker Ministry put the struggle for justice for farm workers in the context of more than forty years of effort by so many.  Professor Paul Ortiz read the latest interfaith clergy letter to Publix.

Our friends from Immokalee Claire Comiskey and Oscar Otzoy told of the real gains for workers in the Fair Food Agreement and explained why we must bring Publix to the table.

Marlee Henninge introduced the group of UF students who will spend their Spring Break in Homestead with the Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Meet the CIW! February 27th @ 3PM

Where:University Lutheran Church, 1824 West University Avenue, Gainesville FL

When: 3pm!

Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice welcomes a delegation from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers who are here to invite Gainesville participation in the March for Rights and Fair Food March 3-17, especially on Sunday afternoon March 17 in Lakeland.

Monday, February 11, 2013

CIW Solidarity Action Outside Wendy's - 14 Febraury 2013


We're kicking off the season with a big Valentine’s Day proposal (and Valentine's Day themed action!) to Wendy’s to sign a Fair Food Agreement with the CIW. Throughout the week of Valentine’s Day, allies of farmworkers all over the country will call on Wendy’s to partner with the CIW.

On Thursday, February 14 @5pm, we will gather outside the Wendy’s on 1711 North Main Street in Gainesville to call on Wendy’s to join CIW's Fair Food Program.

By joining the program, Wendy's would commit to buying Florida tomatoes only from growers that respect farmworkers' basic rights. 

Join us to send a strong message to the company here in Gainesville!

Facebook event link HERE

Monday, February 4, 2013

IAIJ Unveils Our First Newsletter!

Download/view it here - IAIJ Winter 2013

Special thanks to Liz Getman for getting the word out about upcoming events and reporting on the latest!


Also, one of our members shares her immigration story in the Gainesville Sun. Check it out here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 28th Event - Presentation to Gainesville Faith Community! (7pm) 

Our group of committed members is excited to start this New Year with you in the city of Gainesville. One of our 2013 goals is to engage our faith communities and local residents on an even deeper level.

Our first step is a special event on January 28 designed to educate friends and supporters about Florida’s immigrant justice movement and how the community can become more involved. The evening will begin at 7 p.m. at the Emmanual Mennonite Church located on 236 NW 18th Avenue in Gainesville.

Highlights will include:
  • "Breaking Bread, Building Bridges” potluck initiative
  • Detainee visitations in local prisons
  • History of migrant farmworkers in Florida
  • Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ “March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food”
  • National Farmworker Awareness Week
  • Legislative updates at the state level

    We hope you’ll consider joining us as we discuss efforts to achieve immigrant and farmworker justice in Florida and throughout the nation. Please email us with any questions.

Local Residents and Clergy to Urge Gainesville Wendy’s to
Sign Fair Food Agreement

Gainesville, FL (January 18, 2013) – Members of Gainesville’s Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice (IAIJ) and local clergy will gather at the North Main Street Wendy’s on Monday, January 21 at 11:00 a.m. to encourage the fast food chain to sign the Fair Food Agreement—a contract that would guarantee fair wages and working conditions for Florida farmworkers.

Residents will present a letter to the Wendy’s manager and encourage him/her to pass it along to the chain’s corporate headquarters. They are acting in conjunction with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) of Immokalee, Florida, which partners with Florida immigrants and farmworkers to end unfair labor conditions and wages.

The CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food has resulted in Fair Food Agreements with major retailers, such as Taco Bell, McDonald's, Compass Group, Whole Foods Market, and Trader Joe's. Wendy’s is one of the last fast food chains to sign the agreement.

For more information, please contact: Richard Macmaster at (352) 371-6772 or; or Sheila Payne at (831) 334-0117.

The Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice is a coalition of local faith communities and Gainesville residents working with farmworkers and immigrant rights leaders to support justice in their own traditions. For more information, please visit

The Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a community-based organization mainly comprised of Latino, Mayan Indian, and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. The coalition’s primary objectives are to build strength as a community on a basis of reflection and analysis, attention to coalition-building across ethnic divisions, and investment in the leadership development of members. From this foundation, CIW advocates for: a fair wage for workers; respect from supervisors and the industries in which workers are employed; higher quality and more affordable housing; improved laws and enforcement against those who violate workers’ rights; the right to organize without fear of retaliation; and an end to forced labor in the fields. To learn more about the CIW, visit

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice

Equipping faith communities with tools to live out their own tradition's call for justice

Organizing faith communities to work together towards the goal of immigrant justice

Connecting faith communities with local, state, and national immigrant rights and farm worker rights movement leaders