A Sit-Down with Alexandra Sossa, Executive Director of Farmworker & Landscaper Advocacy Project (FLAP)
The IEJF helps support FLAP’s Community Legal Education efforts in coordination with the Mexican Consulate in Chicago.
FLAP is just one of a few organizations that focuses exclusively on improving working conditions for very low-income workers and their families in industries like farms, landscaping, greenhouses and canneries. How do you carry out this mission on a day-to-day basis?
We carry out our mission through advocacy, community outreach and education, litigation, information and referrals, partnering with other organizations to fight human labor trafficking, preventing family separations by helping immigrants secure dual citizenship for their children and facilitating access to cash transfers to very low-income populations.
We go to local churches, Consulates and the field to reach out to the workers and educate them on their legal rights and distribute community outreach and education materials.
How has the pandemic impacted the communities you serve? And what legal issues have come to the forefront?
Very low-income Latinx people, many of whom are essential workers, have been hit very hard by the pandemic, not only facing health issues but major financial struggles. We have seen reports of more injuries at work, specifically getting COVID-19 in the workplace, no payment for wages, including overtime and minimum wage, discrimination, and illegal wage deductions (including uniforms, tools, visa).
You have a long history of public service dating back to your work with coffee plantation workers in Colombia. What inspired you to dedicate your career to advocating for workers?
All I do is to honor the memory of my foster father who was a Colombian Attorney fighting for very low-income workers’ rights. He dedicated his whole life to stand up for coffee farm workers.