Our History

The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. evolved from the Farmworker Association of Central Florida, an organization that was established by a group of farmworkers in Mascotte, Florida in 1983 to respond to the needs of the farmworker community in Central Florida. The founding purpose of the Association was to organize farmworkers more effectively in their struggle for better housing, wages, and working conditions. The Association was incorporated in 1986, and expanded statewide in 1992. Over the last 25 years, FWAF has grown to be a statewide organization with more than 8,000 member families, and five locations throughout Central and South Florida.

 

Major accomplishments of the organization include:

Legal Accomplishments:

  • successful passage of the Farmworker Transportation Safety Act in 2006 (requiring seatbelts in vans transporting farmworkers);

  • successful passage of the Alfredo Bahena Act (re-enactment of the Farmworkers’ Right-to-Know Law) in 2004;

  • three successful lawsuits resulting in coverage for ferncutters under the Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

Community Mobilizing Accomplishments:

  • organizing workers to secure improvements in wages and working conditions for farmworkers in over 60 Central Florida companies;

  • organizer of the first tri-lingual International Farmworker Forum in 1998;

  • organizing the immigrant community for the May 1st Immigrants’ Rights Rally and March in downtown Orlando in 2006 attracting 30,000 participants;

  • the election to local office of two candidates in the farmworker community of Fellsmere;

  • creation of the Lake Apopka Dislocated Workers Program in which community members outreached to over 1,200 farmworkers to address re-training/re-employment and housing relocation needs.

Education and Research Accomplishments:

  • development of a popular education method of pesticide training and the ‘diagnostico’ workplace assessment survey instrument with the Farmworker Health and Safety Institute;

  • EPA-certified pesticide health and safety trainings for more than 5,000 farmworkers and for 32 pesticide applicators;

  • 19 health care provider trainings for more than 600 health care workers on the identification, diagnosis and treatment of pesticide exposure of farmoworkers for health professionals in rural and community health clinics around the state;

  • completion of more than 600 diagnosticos for monitoring violations of worker protection standards and field sanitation laws;

  • creation and development of successful economic development projects, such as PEP Labor Crews citrus harvesting cooperative and the La Tienda ethnic food stores;

  • participation in three community-based participatory farmworker health research projects with universities;

  • the community-generated Lake Apopka Farmworkers Environmental Health Survey project with community members interviewing 148 former farmworkers impacted by pesticide exposure.

Collaborative Accomplishments:

  • co-founder of the Farmworker Health and Safety Institute (FHSI), the Farmworker Network for Economic and Environmental Justice, and the Latino Immigrant Network of the Southeast;

  • and active participation in the National People of Color and Indigenous People Environmental Leadership Summits, the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, two World Social Forums and the Southeast Social Forum.