Tuesday, Aug. 2 in Nicaragua
U.S. ambassador joins UFW president, Nicaraguan coffee farm owners to learn how union-company collaboration is raising worker wages by 50% in five years
La Dalia, Nicaragua.—U.S. Ambassador Laura Dogu, United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez and coffee and food service industry representatives will join owners of a large coffee farm during a day-long visit to learn how the UFW has worked with management and workers during the past two years to improve profitability and raise wages by 50 percent over the next five years through workforce development and training.
More than 500 harvest workers at the La Revancha Coffee Farm saw a 22 percent pay increase from the collaboration during the October 2015 to March 2016 harvest season. Both the UFW and La Revancha expect to build upon the benefits of their cooperation at the farm and expand the model to other farms and countries.
La Revancha owners Rodrigo Gonzalez and Cecilia Pineda and UFW President Rodriguez and union National Vice President Erik Nicholson will host a delegation including Ambassador Dogu, other U.S. officials, food service provider Bon Appétit Management Co. Chief Strategy and Brand Officer Maisie Ganzier and Jeff Teeter, president of Allegro Coffee. Allegro bought La Revancha coffee at a price the UFW established that both assured the farm a fair profit and boosted worker wages 22 percent during the last harvest. The delegation will meet with farm owners and workers during the trip.
The two-year old collaboration in Nicaragua is part of the UFW’s growing global efforts to aide farm workers in an agricultural industry that is becoming increasingly globalized. Studying the coffee industry for several years, the union grew concerned that despite the wealth coffee generates in the U.S., most coffee workers and small coffee producers go hungry. The UFW-La Revancha effort seeks to readjust market conditions so coffee workers can earn a dignified wage and so workers and farm owners see them as professionals.
The UFW brought Nicaraguan coffee workers to the U.S. over the last four years to participate in North America’s largest coffee trade show and meet with labor and community leaders, elected officials and most importantly coffee buyers. The Nicaraguan workers—who had never flown on a plane or gone up in an elevator—saw first hand where and how the coffee they harvest is sold. A cup of coffee in the U.S. costs about as much as workers earn in a day. Worker trips to the U.S. were transformative and prompted the collaboration at La Revancha where farm owners, workers and the UFW labored together to boost training and improve pay and working conditions.
The UFW hopes U.S. and industry officials will learn from the success at La Revancha so the union can expand its efforts to other countries and commodities. The dilemmas facing the coffee industry are not unique: impending labor shortages and tight or no profit margins in the wake of increasing consumer demand. The program’s aims are to ensure farm workers earn a dignified wage and standard of living; participating growers remain profitable through a trained, committed and engaged workforce; the integrity of the supply chain is bolstered so coffee companies enjoy continued access to the coffee they need to meet consumer demand; and consumers get coffee they can truly feel good about purchasing.
The coffee farm collaboration is one of the UFW’s global initiatives through which the union founded by Cesar Chavez has been active improving farm worker conditions in Mexico, Central and South America over the last decade.
Who: U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Laura Dogu, UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez, UFW National Vice President Erik Nicholson, La Revancha Coffee Farms owners Rodrigo Gonzalez and Cecilia Pineda, Bon Appétit Management Co. Chief Strategy and Brand Officer Maisie Ganzier and Allegro Coffee President Jeff Teeter.
What: Coffee farm owners and the UFW hosting a day-long visit to learn how the union, management and workers have collaborated during the past two years to improve profitability and raise wages by 50 percent over the next five years through workforce development and training.
When: 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016.
Where: La Revancha Coffee Farm, La Dalia, Matagalpa Nicaragua.