Rumble in the concrete jungle: 300 march on Wendy's just days before shareholder meeting in NYC!
May 21, 2013 -- Ahead of the company's upcoming shareholder meeting in New York, allies in the Big Apple joined farmworkers this past weekend for the largest Wendy's action to date.
The day began in Union Square, temporarily converted into an outdoor staging grounds for the CIW's latest popular theater production. Red balloons were ubiquitous among the crowd that gathered to watch as farmworkers won accords with Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway. In the final act, a larger-than-life Wendy's stubbornly batted away an oversized pencil, refusing to sign an agreement and maintaining her title as the only company among the five largest fast food chains in the nation not yet participating in the Fair Food Program.
From there participants proceeded down Broadway Avenue at the height of midday traffic. The march was a spirited celebration of the new day dawning in Florida agriculture and a powerful indictment of Wendy's reluctance to join the rising tide of justice. At its pinnacle, the procession stretched for two full city blocks -- a striking sight even amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Manhattan.
Farmworkers and allies delegated two Wendy's restaurants along the way. At both locations, management refused to accept protestors' letters, telling them instead to direct any questions to corporate. Despite the chilly reception, the streets outside were red hot - the blare of big brass and rousing chants echoing around the concrete alleyways: "Your burgers may be square but your food ain't fair!"
Allies in over a dozen cities across the country also took part in the weekend of action. In Cincinnati, OH - just a few short hours from Wendy's headquarters - over twenty fair food allies were rebuffed and even threatened with a call to the police while trying to deliver a letter to local management. In the Bay Area, colorful banners adorned a picket organized by allies from San Francisco and Oakland.
The March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food comes to a brilliant conclusion in Lakeland
The Coalition represents hope, hope for a better world. And as young people we will always be here supporting and fighting for the cause, because the Coalition's cause is a just one and we will win!
March 25, 2013 -- The final six miles of the March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food were an epic conclusion to a landmark journey across the state of Florida. Converging on downtown Lakeland - hometown to Florida's largest grocer and fair food holdout, Publix - 1,500 farmworkers and allies from across the state and throughout the region sent a resounding message to corporate executives: it's time to end your resistance and join us on the right side of history!
Core marchers had been making the trek for two weeks: traversing seven counties and countless municipalities for a grand total of two hundred miles en route to Publix Headquarters. Farmworkers young and old sacrificed precious hours in the fields, a reality that only hardened their resolve to complete the quest for justice. Through driving rain, blistering sun, and bloodied feet, they pressed on to Lakeland and arrived at Publix's gates.
For passersby, the march was a jubilant celebration of the incredible changes taking root in the fields. Hand-painted across larger-than-life banners, these basic rights helped lead the way up Florida's Gulf Coast and into the heart of the state: the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, the right to work free from slavery, the right to work free from discrimination. The visual representations made apparent the stark contrast between the new day of respect dawning in Florida's fields and Publix's inexplicable resistance to the Fair Food Program.
Perhaps the greatest effect of the march is the energy it has generated among the youth of the fair food nation. Students and young people came in droves from the University of South Florida, UCF, Florida State University, Vanderbilt, Emory, Florida International University, UMiami, New College, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Christian College, Polk State College, Florida Southern College, YAYA-NFWM, Tampa Bay Fair Food, United We Dream, Denver Fair Food, Community Farmworker Alliance, DC, Ohio, California, Providence, Madison, Chicago, and the Twin Cities to name just a few.
Get in touch with us for more info on how to plug in to what's happening in your area, and tune back in as we roll into summer!
The March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food winds its way across Southwest Florida
"In Immokalee today, many farmworkers are finally seeing the light of a new day dawning. And that's why we're marching. Publix wants to block our path and stop the light of a new day from shining for workers." --Nely Rodriguez, CIW Member
"We need all of you. We need you in front of Publix on Sunday the 17th to show these wealthy executives that it doesn't matter how powerful they think they are. The power and determination of farmworkers and all of society is stronger than they are."--Gerardo Reyes, CIW Member
March 5, 2013 - The first week of the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food was an unforgettable one. Flags waving and hearts ablaze with the light of a new day, we set off from Ft. Myers last Sunday, winding our way up the coast of Southwest Florida. All along Highway 41 -- one of the most heavily-trafficked thoroughfares in western Florida -- we have seen an outpouring of solidarity as residents honk their horns, pump their fists, and shout their support for justice in the fields.
For up-to-the-minute photo reports and information, check out the official march website, and make your plans to join us as we continue on to Tampa, Plant City, and Lakeland for the culmination of this historic journey!
See you on the 17th!
One week out: the
Fair Food Nation gears up to march!
February 24, 2013 -- We're just seven days from the beginning of the CIW's biggest mobilization of the year, and allies across the nation are heeding the call to march! Here is a little snapshot of some exciting preparations going down across the Fair Food Nation:
SFA and CIW at the USAS Conference
Farmworkers in Immokalee are gearing up to make their voices heard! Today, the community is celebrating its annual Fiesta del Año del Trabajador ("Year of the Worker Party"): one of the culminating events capping off weeks of tireless organizing and outreach. CIW members new and old are coming together to share in music, games, and community building before setting off together on a 200-mile journey of hope and celebration. Check out the CIW's statement "Why We Are Marching" here.
Indeed, the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food is shaping up to be an historic event -- definitely one you won't want to miss! So spread the word, get yourself up, and join us in the streets as we take a stand for justice and dignity in our food system!Will you be there?
In the lead up to historic March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food,
Strong SFA presence planned at 2-week Publix mobilization; students and youth ready to escalate the Wendy's campaign and committed to strengthening SFA for the long haul!
February 4, 2013 -- Immokalee played host this past weekend to the annual face-to-face meeting of the Student/Farmworker Alliance Steering Committee (SC).
The SC is SFA's main leadership and regional organizing body, comprised of some of the most dedicated young organizers from across the country fighting to transform our food system.
Over the course of three intensive days in the birthplace of the Campaign for Fair Food, SC members built strategy and mobilization plans for the upcoming March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food, connected with CIW members to learn first hand about the amazing transformations underway in Florida's fields, developed plans for continuing youth leadership development and expanding the reach of SFA, and recharged their batteries - and their spirits - for the work ahead.
Plans have been laid, commitments have been made -- now we're ready to take action! Join us for what's sure to be an action-packed year to remember!
Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum visits Lakeland and Orlando
January 27, 2013 -- The CIW's Modern-Day Slavery Museum - a traveling exhibit tracing the history of forced labor in Florida agriculture - took another turn on the road this weekend, making stops at campuses in Lakeland and Orlando. On Thursday, Polk State College Students Working for Equal Rights (PSC-SWER) co-hosted the museum with the Student Government Association (SGA). Situated in the heart of citrus country mere miles from Publix corporate headquarters, Polk State College was the perfect setting to explore the roots of farmworker exploitation and the profound transformations currently underway in Florida's fields. Students, faculty and staff all made the rounds, many surprised to learn that their hometown grocer had not yet joined the Fair Food Program as eleven other corporate buyers have already done.
The following day, members of the environmental studies department welcomed the museum to Rollins College. One of the day's first visitors was a photographer from the Rollins Sandspur, who snapped some pictures for an online album. As the afternoon progressed, museum staff interacted with student leaders from a variety of classes and organizations, faculty from an array of departments, and staff members from the Offices of Community Engagement and Multicultural Affairs.
With that in mind we're moving into February, gearing up for the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food. Young people across the country are spreading the word, organizing the caravans and preparing to make the call once more. Publix - anchor to the supermarkets' resistance and roadblock to justice - has held out long enough. It's only a matter of time.
MLK weekend delegations kick off nation-wide campaign
January 23, 2013 -- Over forty letter delegations across the Fair Food Nation signaled the launch of the Wendy's campaign this past weekend. CIW member Santiago Perez sums it up best in this excerpt from Examiner.com:
"As Wendy's ... [promotes] its sourcing of 'honest ingredients,' it must realize that respect for human rights and worker participation are integral components of the genuine sustainability that today's consumers expect and demand." read more
Click here for the full photo report and stay tuned for the Valentine's Day of Action!
The time has come for Wendy's to get with the Program
January 18, 2013 -- This weekend marks the launch of a nation-wide campaign against fast food retailer Wendy's. Allies from coast to coast are beginning to organize, demanding that Wendy's do as eleven other corporate buyers have done and join the Fair Food Program.
Help us get this campaign off the ground! Click here to download the Wendy's manager letter and deliver it to your local restaurant this MLK weekend!
The world's third largest burger joint prides itself on selling fresh, never frozen patties, ensuring an old-time taste promoted on airwaves, billboards and busses across the world. However, hamburgers aren't the only thing "old fashioned" about Wendy's.
While fast food competitors McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, and Chipotle Mexican Grill have all directed purchases to growers working to respect farmworkers' rights, Wendy's continues doing business in a manner that is quickly becoming a relic of the past. Flying in the face of consumer demand for fair food, the company operates without any commitment to tomato pickers in its supply chain: no enforceable human rights standards, no support for a fair wage, and no mechanism to effectively and efficiently address abuses as they occur. Together with supermarkets like Publix, Kroger and Ahold, Wendy's represents a viable market for antiquated, exploitative growers currently outside the reach of the Fair Food Program and stands as a road block to the full fruition of a new day in Florida agriculture.
Despite Wendy's reluctance to make concrete strides toward the future, there is an ongoing effort to refashion the company's brand. Take a look at this recent statement:
Unfortunately, Wendy's "innovation and fresh thinking" has thus far failed to include what could be the most comprehensive, transformative program in the history of US farm labor.
Planned updates do go beyond a simple makeover of the well-known logo. They are, in effect, a full-on facelift for local restaurants, including "lounge seating with fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi and digital menuboards." Though consumers may find comfort while surfing the net and munching on a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, we're baffled by the company's reluctance to invest in living wages for farmworkers in its supply chain.
It bears mentioning that Wendy's outdatedness is not for lack of trying. The CIW has sent a number of letters over the years inviting the company to join the Fair Food Program. Allies at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) likewise attended Wendy's shareholder meetings in 2010 and 2011 hoping to find some answers but instead getting the same non-response encountered by farmworkers.
Even Emil Brolick, current President and CEO of Wendy's, has a personal history with the Coalition. Brolick was Chief Executive Officer at Taco Bell during the entirety of a four-year boycott before TB became the first corporate buyer to sign a Fair Food agreement. He was then COO of Yum! Brands, Taco Bell's parent company, before moving to Wendy's in 2011. He is, in short, the last person who can claim ignorance of the Campaign for Fair Food.
So get in on the action this MLK weekend as we take it nation-wide! Click here to download a Wendy's manager letter, and bring it with you to your local restaurant. Then stay tuned as we ramp up the action next month!
CIW announces major spring mobilization!
Farmworkers and Allies to embark on epic 2-week March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food
March 3-17, 2013
December 13, 2012 -- Thirteen years ago, farmworkers from the little-known town of Immokalee set out on a journey. With little more than a map to guide them, a field truck to carry their supplies, and a 12-foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty made of fabric, plaster and duct tape to lead the way, they began the historic March for Dignity, Dialogue, and a Fair Wage.
The 234-mile trek from Ft. Myers to Orlando wound through several outposts and cities, as workers from a "forgotten" corner of Florida laid the foundation for what would become one of the most widely acclaimed popular movements in recent history. The destination was the offices of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, standard-bearer of an industry that years later -- thanks to the dedicated struggle of farmworkers and their allies -- is "on the road to becoming the most progressive group" in the US produce business.
The march was also a foundational moment for the Student/Farmworker Alliance, as students and youth walked alongside farmworkers, provided logistical support for the procession, and opened their dorms to house the weary. It was the first opportunity for students from several Florida colleges to learn about and directly participate in the movement to end "sweatshops in the fields." Since then, SFA has grown into a powerful national network, becoming a key ally in the Campaign for Fair Food and one of the most effective youth movements in existence.
Come March 3, we will once again set out on a mission. We will march to celebrate the changes underway today in Florida's tomato industry. We will march so that Publix does, finally, support the Fair Food Program. We will march so that those growers who refuse to meet the new standards no longer get solace, and sales, from retailers like Publix who remain willing to purchase tomatoes produced the old way, “no questions asked.” We will march because we, as stakeholders in an interconnected food system, care about where our food comes from. And we will march so that, one day, farmworkers across this country might enjoy the unprecedented new rights being born today in the fields of Florida.
"A Tale of Two Holidays" video headlines Thanksgiving Supermarket Week of Action
Chipotle Mexican Grill Joins the Fair Food Program
October 6, 2012 -- After six years of persistent organizing and struggle -- the longest CIW-led corporate campaign on record -- allies across the country are celebrating Chipotle Mexican Grill signing the Fair Food agreement. With this agreement, Chipotle becomes the eleventh corporate buyer to sit at the table with farmworkers and commit to the Fair Food Program.
Chipotle's decision represents a key moment not only in the fight for workers' rights, but also in the Food Movement at large. It moves us one step closer to ensuring in discourse and in practice that farmworkers' rights are on par with fair animal treatment and environmental sustainability.
Check out this selection of articles from the victory (for a full list, visit our media archives):
Beginning today, "Food With Integrity" will ring true to Florida's farmworkers and to Chipotle consumers around the globe. But even as we celebrate, we must not forget that the struggle continues. Together, we must refocus our energy on the supermarket industry: our most formidable opponent and a critical piece of the Fair Food puzzle. Publix, Kroger, and Ahold represent the final barrier to bringing the New Day to full, brilliant fruition. Let's not give up the fight, but instead press on toward true justice for farmworkers!
2012 Encuentro brings the Fair Food Nation to Immokalee
September 22, 2012 -- Last weekend saw the return of a storied tradition, as over 70 students and young people from across the country converged in Immokalee -- the birthplace of the Fair Food movement -- for the 2012 Encuentro.
The Encuentro comes at a particularly critical moment in the fight for Fair Food. Following the first full year of implementation of the Fair Food Program -- recently hailed in the Washington Post as "one of the great human rights success stories of our day" -- farmworkers are seeing glimpses of a New Day dawning on Florida agriculture. And yet Chipotle Mexican Grill clings to the past, the lone fast food holdout bent on forging a "Food With Integrity" brand that ignores the voices of farmworkers. The supermarket industry likewise stands as a bulwark against the rising tide of Fair Food, its resistance firmly anchored by Florida's hometown grocer, Publix.
Our work cut out for us, the Encuentro began abuzz with energy in a room full of faces both old and new. Over the course of the weekend, we built skills, crafted strategy, and strengthened the relationships that will sustain us for the long haul (click here to see the full photo report!) By the end of our time together, we were ready to bring the struggle home -- equipped and animated to organize in communities across the country and strengthen the Fair Food Nation; to bring Chipotle, Publix, Kroger and Ahold into the light of a New Day.
As we met in Immokalee, action was also percolating elsewhere in the country. Up in Chicago, allies overtook the Chipotle Cultivate Festival. Supported and bolstered by our own solidarity action in Naples, they connected with Windy City consumers who echoed the demand that Chipotle cultivate a genuine relationship with farmworkers -- one based on accountability, transparency, and commitment.
Up in Tallahassee, members of FSU Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (AIRR) led a march to the local Publix - demanding accountability from Florida's largest supermarket. The protest came after a day of classroom presentations and an on-campus bucket display highlighting the disparity between the sale price of tomatoes and the piece rate paid to the farmworkers who pick them.
For older updates, please visit our news page.
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