Spotlight on Nonviolence - Magaly Licolli

In this Spotlight interview, I had the opportunity to speak with Magaly Licolli, a labor rights activist organizing poultry workers in northwest Arkansas. Magaly is the Executive Director and co-founder of Venceremos, a human rights worker-based organization that works to ensure the dignity of poultry workers. We discussed how these "essential workers" are treated as expendable, how Magaly initially became involved in labor organizing with the International Workers of the World (IWW), the way the US government and big corporations like Tyson have endangered the health of poultry workers during the COVID pandemic, and how workers are taking action.

As a vegan, I'm deeply interested in the injustices of our modern system of industrial animal agriculture and in our interview Magaly highlights the human cost of the poultry industry. Magaly shares the horrific story of a woman who was disabled due to a chemical accident at a poultry plant, lost her job, and was then unable to receive disability benefits because of her immigration status. An immigrant herself, Magaly is fierce in her criticism of poultry companies and the government's negligence, with the clear-eyed confidence of someone who knows their fight is a righteous one. Magaly was an actress before she was an activist and speaking to her I got a glimpse of her deep reservoir of empathy, her ability to feel the pain and suffering of poultry workers as her own. Once a young radical, Magaly has grown in her activism to fighting for more achievable goals- paid sick leave, PPE, bathroom breaks, not the overthrow of capitalism but the basic human rights of workers. I appreciate how Magaly approaches labor organizing not from a place of paternalism but from a place of solidarity. She co-founded Venceremos alongside workers and follows their lead, not presuming to know more than them just because she is more educated. In her activism, Magaly travels the path blazed by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the farmworkers' movement, doing the hard and unglamorous work to build a better world. I found our conversation insightful and inspiring and I hope you will too.



Time Stamps: 

0:00 Introducing Magaly

1:07 Magaly's Start in Labor Organizing

7:00 The Plight of Poultry Workers During COVID

14:20 Holding Companies Accountable 

20:54 Workers Engaging in Nonviolent Direct Action

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