Last week I met the leaders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Immokalee, Florida. They have been hailed as “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” because they have shifted their labor practices to become “the best working environment in U.S. agriculture.” You can read about the good work of CIW here. I’m grateful that my denomination supports this organization.
At Sunripe Farms we met the Human Resources Director for the tomato pickers. (Yes, HR for the tomato pickers, not just for the office workers.) And he not only told us about their commitment to treating workers fairly; he admitted that this practice is good for business. Immigrant farm workers spread the word about how they are treated at Sunripe Tomatoes and so Sunripe Tomatoes has no problems finding good employees.
Please check out both the CIW and the Alliance for Fair Food. Would we rather buy our tomatoes from people who allow sexual harassment and human trafficking? Or would we rather buy our tomatoes from farmers who promote safe conditions and pay their workers fairly?
And this brings me to offices far from the fields. There are churches that have the reputation of eating their own staff members for Sunday dinner. There are personnel committees who seek power by micro-managing their pastors. There are churches that pay their staff members what they can get away with rather than what they can afford.
And then there are churches and chaplaincy offices and seminaries and other non-profits trying to Good Things in the name of Jesus who treat their staffs with respect and appreciation. There is transparency and collaboration and good humor. And those organizations subsequently thrive. Thriving is in their DNA.
Let’s thrive today. Let’s treat our colleagues well. Let’s treat our pastors and educators and administrative assistants and office managers and choir directors and musicians well. Let’s create great work environments out there.
(And let’s avoid those organizations that do not promote fair practices for workers.)