Thursday, November 02, 2017

Greg Asbed - McAruthur 'Genius' Grant Recipient

LABELLE, FL. -- Greg Asbed, of LaBelle is the recipient of one of this year's McAruthur Foundation Grants. He  is a human rights strategist developing a new model—worker-driven social responsibility—for improving conditions for low-wage workers within the twenty-first-century labor market.

Worker driven social responsibility emerged from the decades-long work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization co-founded by Asbed, with Lucas Benitez and Laura Germino, in 1993 to redress injustices in the Florida tomato industry, including forced labor, sexual assault, and wage theft. 

Asbed was a principal architect of the coalition's Fair Food Program (FFP), a mechanism by which the purchasing power of consumers and large food companies is tapped to compel growers to improve farmworkers' working conditions. Growers agree to adhere to a code of conduct in the treatment of workers, and workers are educated (by other workers) about their rights and responsibilities. Purchasers have a zero-tolerance policy for abuses by their suppliers and also agree to pay a penny-per-pound premium that goes directly into growers' payrolls as a line-item bonus on workers' paychecks. 

Asbed helped devise the Fair Foods Standards Council, an independent monitoring organization, to ensure compliance through regular audits and complaint investigations. Since 2010, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange and over a dozen purchasers, including Walmart, have signed on to the Fair Food Program. With the success of the FFP in the tomato industry, Asbed envisioned the potential for wider economic and social change, and together with colleagues, he designed the WSR framework.

Asbed's expertise is being sought by international organizations for the development of customized variants of the WSR model to address such issues as child labor in Africa and gender-based violence in domestic work settings in Mexico.

The MacArthur Fellowship is a "no strings attached" award in support of people, not projects. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly installments of $31,250 over five years.

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