Hurricane Irma slams the farmworker town of Immokalee, recovery begins and the work for justice continues

irma2.jpg

After pummelling islands throughout the Caribbean last week and leaving much destruction in its wake, Hurricane Irma began its slow but powerful ascent onto the mainland of Florida on Sunday afternoon and evening. The historic storm arrived in Immokalee as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of up to 130 miles per hour. Yesterday’s report from the CIW describes Irma’s impact on vulnerable farmworker towns in Florida’s interior

...Immokalee, the already impoverished farmworker community — and several others north of Immokalee, including Florida’s citrus capital, LaBelle — saw some of the worst of the storm, as the northeast quadrant of the massive hurricane’s eye wall slammed directly into small inland towns along the length of the state.

We are happy to report that, remarkably, despite hours of fierce lashing by Irma’s winds and stinging rains, no lives were reported lost as of the writing of this report….The physical damage wrought by the storm was great, however, with the worst impact reserved for communities like Immokalee, where the housing stock consists mainly of used trailers and flimsily built wooden shacks ...

Even as the region begins recovery from Irma, it is imperative that we remember why Immokalee and communities like it are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters like these. Often fleeing war and devastation in their home countries, thousands arrive to Immokalee only to be met by poverty wages (more than half of Immokalee residents live below the poverty line), abusive conditions, and a system that is historically stacked against them. Without a strong social safety net or the resources to rebuild after a major storm, Immokalee farmworkers are among the millions on the frontline of climate change. In the years to come, warmer waters will generate more extreme weather — and further escalate the threats faced by vulnerable communities.

Today, we must respond to the immediate needs of Immokalee. But we must go further than the demands of the moment.

Our generation must continue to follow farmworkers’ leadership to transform the reality that demands they fight for their survival and human rights on a daily basis — we must expand the Fair Food Program. Beyond that, SFA must stand with frontline communities around the world to ensure they also reduce their structural vulnerability, and to curb climate change while we still can.  Just as we raise our voices as students and young people to Boot the Braids from campuses around the country, we must continue to support campaigns for university divestment from fossil fuels and all movements for collective liberation.

Given this long-term vision, the CIW has called on the SFA network to continue organizing with more vigor as ever before.  Next week, we will announce a major new initiative in the Campaign for Fair Food to intensify the call to Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program. Stay tuned for the details!

In the meantime, Immokalee is calling on our support to get back on her feet. If you are in Florida and are able to support with supplies or volunteering, contact Julia Perkins at julia@ciw-online.org.  If you wish to donate to relief efforts to Immokalee farmworkers and other farmworker communities, you can do so securely here.  

Visit the CIW's website to read more about Irma's impact on Immokalee (and catch a bonus son jarocho video!)

NEW VIDEO: Support SFA in building student/worker power at the #2017Encuentro!

We’re just days away from hosting 70 of the SFA network’s most active young organizers in Immokalee, FL, to craft a vision for student strategy in the burgeoning Wendy’s Boycott this upcoming season! As we begin welcoming participants – coming from campuses in Denver, Columbus and Boston, to just name a few — Encuentro organizers are putting finishing touches on the weekend’s logistics and program. 

All summer, SFAers have put a tremendous amount of energy and resources into putting a fresh spin on the decade-long Encuentro weekend tradition. Now that it’s just around the corner, we’re calling on our SFA community to support us in offsetting the staggering cost of putting together such an extraordinary gathering. 

Check out this sweet video starring one of the youngest members of SFA, our friend Elias Perez of Immokalee Middle School, and head over to the Encuentro fundraising page to make a donation!

Your contribution — big or small — will help cover the cost of food for 70 people, transportation, meeting space rental, printed resources, travel scholarships for participants and much more. We’ve still got a long way to go. Pitch in today to bring us closer to our $2,500 goal! 

IMG_0241 copy 2.JPG

We're hiring a National SFA Co-Coordinator!

natali copy.jpg

Dear SFA, 

I am writing to share big news with all of you who have participated in actions, presentations, Encuentros, convivio, among so many other things in order to raise up the work of the CIW and their vision for farmworker justice. After nearly three years of living and working in Immokalee as one of the two SFA Co-coordinators and a few more years before that of being involved in the network, I will be continuing my partnership with the CIW by joining their staff. I will be supporting their work within the Fair Food Program by helping coordinate worker-to-worker education sessions in farms from Florida to New Jersey. 

While I’m happy to share with you all this exciting new phase of my work, the Wendy's Boycott continues! There are students from Denver to Florida to Ohio getting ready for another hard-hitting fall in the Campaign for Fair Food. The Immokalee crew is preparing for another few months of travel to spread the Wendy's Boycott far and wide — and the 2017 SFA Encuentro is just around the corner! 

I am grateful for all that the SFA network has given me over the years — a home, endless lessons, life-long friendships, a vision for justice. I know a hard-fought Wendy's victory is on the horizon. 

As this work moves forward, keep in mind that SFA is now hiring a National Co-coordinator! We hope to count on all of you, who know the spirit of SFA and understand the importance of following farmworker leadership, to help us fill this open position as part of the ally team in Immokalee. 

Check out the description below and share the announcement with your comrades and networks. Don't hesitate to reach out to us with questions or if you have a potential candidate in mind. 

Sending all my love and respect to each of you, 

Natali 

IMG_0460 copy.JPG

SFA Co-coordinator Position

The Student/Farmworker Alliance is seeking an Immokalee-based staff member to help coordinate the student and youth network within the national Campaign for Fair Food. Staff members are compensated with a modest, livable salary and health benefits. A commitment of a least three years and proficiency in English/Spanish are required. SFA Co-coordinators work as part of the larger Alliance for Fair Food staff. 

Areas of work include but aren’t limited to:

  • Student and youth organizing, building campaign strategy, and developing leadership;
  • Coordinating national mobilizations and logistics;
  • Developing educational opportunities and executing outreach;
  • Contributing to organizational development;
  • Offering support for CIW and the farmworker community in Immokalee. 

Read the full description and apply! We’re accepting applications on a rolling basis. 

Given our commitment to developing a diverse leadership, we strongly encourage people of color, women, working-class, LGBTQ, and gender non-conforming people to apply. If you have any interest or know someone who you think may be a good fit, please forward this to them and reach out to us! 

Get in touch with Natali Rodriguez at natali@sfalliance.org or by calling 239-675-9497.

We’re one month out! Donate now to support the #2017Encuentro! 

The 2017 SFA Encuentro is just around the corner! The SFA Steering Committee and staff have been working around the clock to design the incredible Encuentro weekend, with a focus on building power and support for the nationwide student-led campaigns to “Boot the Braids.” (If you haven’t already, apply to participate in this year’s Encuentro!)

Over the next three weeks, we’ll be putting the final touches on the weekend’s logistics: confirming travel with every participant, creating a delicious menu, collecting workshop outlines from facilitators, among so many other things. And, as always, we’re counting on the support of our SFA community to help us make it all happen! 

Chip in to support young leaders making their way to Immokalee for the SFA Encuentro! 

Our goal is to raise $2,500 to offset the staggering costs of putting together one of SFA’s biggest events of the year. Your donation will go a long way in supporting folks traveling hundreds of miles to join us in Immokalee; contributing to food, housing and meeting space needs for nearly 80 allies; and, pitching in for printed materials and resources.  

The remarkable young organizers that have tirelessly fought to bring the SFA network to this critical moment in the Wendy’s Boycott — including those working to cut contracts with on-campus Wendy’s restaurants and those who courageously took on the national rolling student fasts this past spring — are set to converge in CIW’s hometown to keep building student/farmworker power in the Campaign for Fair Food. Every contribution will bring us closer to making the Encuentro a reality! 

Check out our online fundraising page and make your donation today. Don’t forget to share the fundraiser with your family, friends and community to help us quickly reach our goal. 

See you in Immokalee this September!

The Wendy’s Boycott heats up as 120+ farmworkers and allies take to the streets in Orlando for a spirited summer protest! 

The sweltering 100-degree heat in Orlando on Sunday afternoon did not dampen the loud, contagious energy of over 120 supporters and farmworkers who packed the sidewalk of a Wendy's restaurant on this city's busy Colonial Drive thoroughfare. Farmworkers and their families from Immokalee, just starting to return to Florida after a summer season in northern states, joyfully joined members of the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) Network of the National Farmworker Ministry, the Iron Workers Union, I.S.L.A.M, Inc., QLatinx, the Florida Student Power Network, the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, among other community allies, to bring the Wendy’s Boycott to O-Town! 

The summer protest followed the conclusion of a 30-day rolling Interfaith Fast for Farmworker Justice, during which over 40 faith leaders participated from seven religious traditions across Florida, the state with the most Wendy’s restaurants in the country. A season of fasting for human rights, initiated by 19 students at the Ohio State University in March and involving hundreds of supporters around the country, has ended with tremendous success as the tomato season rounds the corner.

Before the protest kicked off, Faiza Begani, representing YAYA, welcomed the boisterous crowd: 

"Today we stand outside of Wendy's boycotting their continued lack of responsibility and responsiveness when it comes to the abuses of farmworkers.”

As participants led spirited chants and allies with bright yellow flyers educated passersby about the Wendy’s Boycott, a delegation gathered to deliver a letter to the local Wendy's manager urging the fast food holdout to join the Fair Food Program. And even though they received a no-longer-surprising rejection, the group returned to the picket line determined to speak even more strongly about their support for the campaign. 

Cruz Salucio of the CIW led the closing reflection, addressing Wendy’s unconscionable decision to move their tomato purchases to Mexico, where reporting abuses has serious and life-threatening consequences (including the recent disappearance of 80 farmworkers in Chihuahua): 

"Human rights cannot be ignored in any way. You cannot run away from a place where an important road for farmworkers' human rights is being created.”

Luis Quintana, a former farmworker and representative of the Iron Workers Union, spoke to the heat, humidity, lack of shade, and other conditions that make farm labor some of the most difficult work in the country — and the fact that the CIW’s unique model to uproot those abuses is the only solution to ending violence in Wendy’s produce supply chain! 

Orlando’s principal newspaper, The Orlando Sentinel, reported on Sunday’s protest and Wendy’s failed response to the boycott:

Fair Food Advocates Protest Downtown Wendy’s” 
"… For the past five years, [Wendy’s] refused to sign on to the Fair Food [Program],” said Ofelia Sanchez, a protester from the Youth and Young Adult Network of the National Farm Worker Ministry. “Instead of preventing abuses in the fields, they’ve chosen to take their business from Florida tomato farms to Mexican tomato farms.”
In those fields, Sanchez said farm workers face wage theft, sexual abuse and human trafficking threats.
Wendy’s disputed the groups’ claims in a statement and said the Coalition of Immokalee Workers “objects to the fact that we don’t pay fees to their organization.”
“We do not believe that joining the Fair Food Program is the only way to act responsibly, and we pride ourselves on our relationships with industry-leading suppliers who share our commitment to quality, integrity and ethics,” Wendy’s spokeswoman Heidi Schaurer said.
Supporters of the Fair Food Program say it works toward educating farmworkers on their rights and also has created a 24-hour hotline aimed at curbing abuses.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers said it has educated about 35,000 workers in meetings, and reached thousands more with video and written materials.
“The conditions of farms where we now have the Fair Food Program … have changed tremendously,” said Nely Rodriguez, who works with the Coalition. “Abuses are being eliminated and workers are able to report abuses.”

Of course, Wendy’s hollow Code of Conduct is no match for the Fair Food Program’s gold standard of human rights protection, an internationally-lauded worker-driven solution to farmworker abuse in the fields. 

Wendy's may be convinced that ignoring this national boycott, responding only with a weak and ineffective Code of Conduct and false insinuations that the CIW profits from the Fair Food Program, and continually turning a blind eye to the exploitation that remains in their supply chain will undermine our efforts to bring them to the table. But as over 120 farmworkers and their allies made clear in Orlando this weekend, "This action does not end today... Let's use all we can to push this boycott until one day we yell that we beat Wendy's." 

Sunday’s protest is but a taste of the tremendous energy and support that is building up for the coming Campaign season as the Student/Farmworker Alliance Encuentro (September 7-10) and fall action plans roll out. Stay tuned for more soon! 

We've raised an astounding $14,000 in grassroots donations — pitch in today to take us all the way to our $25,000 goal!

Since we launched the Wendy's Boycott Fund in May, right before the Fair Food Nation delivered a powerful surprise message to executives at the annual Wendy's shareholder meeting, SFAers have answered the urgent call to fuel the ever-growing boycott with an incredible $14,000 in individual grassroots donations!

Thanks to the generosity of allies like you, we’re more than half of the way to our goal of raising $25,000 to equip the SFA network to build on the spring's incredible momentum and carry us forward to a victory with Wendy's as the semester kicks back up.  It’s this kind of grassroots fundraising — support from those who carry this work and live it out daily — that can sustain this movement for the long haul as, led by farmworkers, we achieve justice for farmworkers.  

Announcing the 2017 SFA Encuentro: September 7-10 in Immokalee, FL!

We've had an incredible run, Fair Food Nation! In this relentless struggle to hold Wendy's accountable for the horrid abuses farmworkers face in its produce supply chain, it is now more urgent than ever to grow and strengthen the new, dignified reality of tens of thousands of workers protected by the CIW's Fair Food Program. This past spring, we've seen the most creative — and courageous! — methods of student organizing advance the Wendy's Boycott, epitomized with the 7-day fast to Boot the Braids from The Ohio State University by 19 students and alumni, and the roaring wave of rolling fasts that spread like wildfire over a dozen university campuses nationwide as a result. 

At this tipping point in the Wendy's Boycott, we're ready to bring it all home, right here in the beating heart of the CIW's struggle for dignity and justice in Immokalee, and invite the SFA network to join us in paving the path to victory at the 2017 Encuentro

This September 7-10, we're continuing the decade-long annual Encuentro tradition by bringing together brilliant young organizers from across the country to develop SFA's vision to continue fighting alongside the CIW in the Wendy's Boycott. At the Encuentro, we will build our organizing skills and leadership as a network, all the while learning from and deepening relationships with the farmworker community in Immokalee.

After an invigorating weekend-long strategy retreat in Washington, DC, last month, the SFA Steering Committee and staff are diving deep into planning for the 2017 Encuentro and finalizing details for an action-packed fall semester! 

Apply to join us this September in I-Town! If you still have questions about the Encuentro, check out all the details you need to know about our annual gathering. Drop us a line at organize@sfalliance.org or give us a ring at 239-657-8311 if you've got ideas or questions you'd like to share. 

See you at the #2017Encuentro!

Another exciting update: Smithsonian enshrines CIW's own Lady Liberty statue at the National Museum of American History!  

If you find yourself in Washington, DC, don't miss the CIW's spectacular Lady Liberty statue, once carried across Florida on the shoulders of farmworkers during the historic 234-mile march for Dignity, Dialogue and a Fair Wage, now on permanent display in the new exhibit "Many Voices, One Nation" at the National Museum of American History. This powerful march in 2000 was the spark that ignited the Student/Farmworker Alliance network, as hundreds of students from colleges across the state declared their solidarity with farmworkers  while marching, side by side, to end sweatshops in the fields! 

Check out CNN’s new Fair Food video series and donate to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund today!

Two days ago, as the office of Ohio State University President Drake received call after call from countless allies across the country outraged by the university’s decision to renew its contract with Wendy’s for three more years, the movement for Fair Food took the national spotlight! The CNN Freedom Project released a stunning video series, entitled "How America's 'ground-zero' for modern slavery was cleaned up by workers' group," highlighting the three broad and overlapping spheres of the CIW’s tremendous work: the Fair Food Program, the Campaign for Fair Food and the Anti-Slavery Campaign. 

The piece features farmworker testimony on the transformed, and truly dignified, conditions workers experience on Fair Food Program farms; details the market-backed consequences that allow for effective enforcement of farmworker-designed human rights standards; and packs a punch in exposing Wendy’s stubborn and shameful refusal to join all of its major competitors in “the most comprehensive social responsibility program in U.S. agriculture.” 

The videos speak for themselves: 

After enjoying the videos, make a donation to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund to help us bring the fast food holdout into the Fair Food Program! 

In the month of May, nearly 100 Fair Food allies have pitched in to bring us over 20% of the way to reaching our $25,000 goal (including a successful two-day $1,000 matching challenge by SFA veteran Rob McGoey!). As hundreds of students and young people from across the country power the Wendy's Boycott, we're continuing to reach toward our fundraising mark and counting on you to throw down and help SFA sustain and increase constant student action in the upcoming months.

CALL NOW: Ohio State renewed its contract with Wendy’s for three years! Call President Drake’s office today!

For over three years, students at The Ohio State University have been escalating their organizing efforts to remove Wendy's from campus: a tireless fight marked by lengthy meetings with administrators, two national mobilizations with hundreds marching on OSU's campus in support of the Boot the Braids campaign and a 7-day fast for farmworker justice on behalf of 19 OSU students and Columbus community members in March. 

And the uphill battle to defend farmworkers' human rights continues...

Last Thursday, Amanda Ferguson, an SFA Steering Committee member and one of the student leaders of Ohio State Student/Farmworker Alliance, received a cold, matter-of-fact email from the OSU administration issuing the University's decision to renew the Wendy's contract for three more years:

Dear Amanda,
Ohio State worked with Wendy’s actively for two years as it developed a new Code of Conduct. The code specifies measures put in place by Wendy’s to ensure that workers picking tomatoes are doing so under safe and appropriate conditions.
We are pleased that the code extends to all produce suppliers for Wendy’s restaurants and covers workers throughout the United States and Canada.
We will have the ability to verify adherence to the code with onsite inspections at any time of our choosing.
We have renewed the lease with Wendy’s for a term of three years.
Sincerely,
Jay Kasey
Senior Vice President, Administration and Planning

This intentionally-timed move by President Drake and his administration, desperate to escape any real form of accountability, not only shuts out the students, faculty, community members and farmworkers who continue to work relentlessly to push OSU to do the right thing, but also exposes the University's arrogance in "actively" putting their name by Wendy's empty Supplier Code of Conduct at whatever cost. 

And despite students winning the inclusion of an important clause to the Wendy's lease — the promise that the renewal of the contract would "be conditioned upon a satisfactory resolution of the Student Farm Workers Alliance with regard to the sourcing of tomatoes" — the administration still chose to deceive students and decided for the students that their concerns over human rights violations in Wendy's supply chain were met with the implementation of Wendy's code. 

OSU's betrayal does not represent the values of the OSU community, and it certainly does not mark an end to OSU SFA's Boot the Braids campaign. In fact, this will only give OSU students — and the hundreds of people across the country that have been following and supporting this incredible struggle for farmworker justice —more fuel to continue campaigning until OSU cuts its contract with Wendy's. 

Join the SFA network for a national call-in day to the offices of President Drake, to express our outrage over the OSU administration's shady, back-door deal with Wendy's. Check out this sample script before calling his office TODAY at 614-292-2424

“President Drake, I’m calling because your administration has chosen to turn its back on its students, faculty, Columbus community, and farmworkers by renewing its contract with Wendy’s. With this decision, your administration demonstrates its blatant disregard for farmworkers’ basic human rights, instead actively working with Wendy’s to develop a meaningless Code of Conduct. 
Completely lacking in worker participation and enforcement mechanisms, Wendy’s code has been publicly and repeatedly discredited as a nothing more than a sham by farmworkers, students, and more recently, international labor law expert James Brudney — and yet, OSU has chosen to support that CSR model, one that is failing thousands upon thousands of farmworkers in Wendy’s supply chain even as we speak.  I am joining community members across the country in supporting students’ escalating efforts to remove Wendy’s from campus until you decide to stand on the right side of history regarding farmworkers’ human rights.”

REPORT: Fair Food Nation packs the house at Wendy's 2017 shareholder meeting!

On Tuesday at Wendy's annual shareholder meeting in Dublin, OH, the CIW and allies from across the Midwest showed up in force to the fast food holdout's doorstep ready to confront the company about upholding human rights in the fields. As farmworkers and SFAers rallied outside Wendy's national headquarters a contingent of 27 allies prepared to confront Wendy's executives face to face about their refusal to join the Fair Food Program. After eleven members of the Fair Food delegation managed to speak in support of verifiable worker protections in Wendy’s supply chain, the delegation rose as one and flashed boycott logos for all to see. 

There is no doubt Wendy's is feeling the heat! As CEO Todd Penegor and the Board of Directors had to answer directly to Boot the Braids students from The Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, SFAers from Clarion University, Trevecca Nazarene University and Antioch College stood strong with CIW and community allies in protest.

Before heading into the shareholder meeting, Henry Anton Peller, one of the 19 OSU students who fasted for one week to kick Wendy's off their campus, spoke to the group's energy and commitment:

Are we ready to quit? [NO!]  Are we tired yet? [NO!]  Are we fired up? [YES!] Are we ready to win? [YES!]  ... that is the message I have to bring to Wendy’s today; that is, to remind them of the power we are building across the country and that is waiting for them at every turn, with every piece of PR they put out, we will demand they join the Fair Food Program...

For a play-by-play of what happened inside and outside the annual shareholder meeting, head over to the AFF website!

Donate by tomorrow to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund to double the impact of your contribution to SFA! 

We’re writing today with exciting news out of the SFA network. Steadfast ally of the Campaign for Fair Food in Denver, Rob McGoey, has announced his commitment to make a sizable contribution to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund by matching up to $1,000 for every dollar given to the campaign by the end of Friday.

Whether organizing creative actions with Denver Fair Food or making food magic happen during our annual Encuentros, Rob has supported the Campaign in countless ways over the years. And today, he’s calling on SFA friends across the country to join him in throwing down for the Wendy’s Boycott Fund. 

Check out his heartfelt reflection below — and make your donation go twice as far by donating today

I’m calling on my friends and compañer@s around the country to give today to the Wendy's Boycott Fund.  Every dollar people donate through the end of Friday, I will match up to $1,000.

Go here to donate: https://ciw.givingfuel.com/boycott-wendys-fund 

For years, the Campaign for Fair Food has been a beacon of light in dark times - a grassroots movement led by immigrant farmworkers, some of the poorest workers in the country, who showed us not just how to struggle but how to WIN!  At this moment which, to me, feels darker than ever, I want to support this movement because it stands as proof in the face of darkness that we are powerful and, working together, a more just world is in our grasp.

The Campaign for Fair Food has achieved over a dozen victories in the last 15+ years resulting in ground-breaking improvements in farmworkers' wages, working conditions and rights. And another victory is on the horizon.  The Alliance for Fair Food is trying to raise $25,000 during the month of May for the Wendy's Boycott Fund which will allow their financial resources to keep pace with the growing momentum of the Boycott.

If you donate today, your donation will go twice as far because I will match you dollar for dollar.  Many of us have marched together, picketed together, sang together and celebrated together; right now let's give together!

NEW VIDEO: “This fight has never been more real, more powerful or more urgent!”

Donate today! Ohio State students visit Immokalee to strategize for the next stage in their Boot the Braids campaign, call on allies to contribute to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund!

Last Thursday, just as we rolled out an exciting new campaign to raise $25,000 to fuel the Wendy’s Boycott, a delegation of Ohio State University students rolled into Immokalee. After a jam-packed semester of intensive student organizing to remove Wendy’s from campus, members of Ohio State Student/Farmworker Alliance and Real Food OSU wrapped up the semester by visiting the birthplace of the Fair Food movement to deeply connect and build relationships with the farmworker community. 

Trip highlights included an in-depth strategy meeting with CIW members to escalate the Boot the Braids campaign before the extension of the Wendy’s lease expires on June 30 — and, to ground their efforts, an inside look at a worker-to-worker education session on a participating Fair Food Program farm. 

Ready for victory, the Buckeyes hit the road for Columbus on Saturday morning, but not before taking a moment to urge the Fair Food Nation to donate to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund! We’re just 11 days away from Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting. Hundreds upon hundreds will be taking action in the lead up to remind Wendy’s top executives that as long as verifiable human rights protections are not part of their recipe, we will no longer support their business.

How much can you contribute to ensure a mounting wave of action in the upcoming months? 

As OSU student Emily urges in the video, we’re asking you to pitch in what you can to help us raise the funds we need to keep strengthening our grassroots movement — and achieve a boycott victory soon! 

Donate to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund today!

ACTION ALERT! Four ways to take action in May ahead of Wendy's annual shareholder meeting!

Check out how you can support the Wendy's Boycott in the lead up to the annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, May 23 in Dublin, OH!

Since its launch in March 2016, CIW's national Wendy's Boycott has received tremendous support from tens of thousands of allies across the country – from major endorsements, to an unforgettable 12-city Return to Human Rights Tour, to a historic rolling fast for farmworker justice at over a dozen campuses from Florida to Michigan – and it continues to grow!

This month, join farmworkers in bringing the call for Fair Food to Wendy’s doorstep, directly to the company’s top executives and shareholders at the upcoming annual shareholder meeting! 

FOUR WAYS TO TAKE ACTION IN MAY:

1) Begin making plans to join farmworkers, Ohio Fair Food and allies from across the country on Tuesday, May 23 for a major protest outside of the Wendy's annual shareholder meeting from 8-11 a.m., followed by a community lunch with CIW. Housing will be provided for those coming from out of town. Get in touch with us at organize@sfalliance.org for support in planning the trip! 

2) Send a boycott postcard to Wendy's CEO Todd Penegor and Board Chairman Nelson Peltz, then organize your community or student group to do the same! Download the postcard here to print, sign, and send to One Dave Thomas Blvd., Dublin, OH 43017. 

3) Donate to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund to bring us closer to our goal of $25,000 in the month of May, to fuel sustained and growing action in the struggle for Fair Food – and bring us closer to an agreement with the final fast food holdout! You can donate online at bit.ly/boycott-fund or by writing a check to Alliance for Fair Food and sending to PO Box 509, Immokalee, FL 34143.

4) On Monday, May 22, participate in a national call-in day to Wendy's Headquarters! Below is information about the call-in day and a sample script for your call. Once you’ve called, email us at organize@sfalliance.org to report on how it went!

Call-in Number: (888)-624-8140

Script: Hello, my name is __________ and I would like to leave a message for Todd Penegor.

As a dedicated ally of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, I want Wendy’s to know that I will continue to support the national Wendy’s Boycott until the corporation respects the human rights of farmworkers in its supply chain and joins the Fair Food Program. For four years, we have demanded that Wendy’s be a partner in the Program, but Wendy’s has failed to do so, instead offering a Code of Conduct devoid of enforcement mechanisms or worker participation and moving purchasing to fields where human rights abuses go unchecked.

Mr. Penegor should know we plan to make our voices heard during an action outside of Wendy’s headquarters tomorrow, calling on him and all shareholders to respect farmworkers’ dignity by joining the Fair Food Program. Unless you commit to joining the Fair Food Program, scores of farmworkers and allies will be peacefully demonstrating outside during your annual shareholder meeting — and the already tens of thousands-strong boycott of Wendy’s will continue to grow day by day!

Thank you for delivering this message.

Download the Wendy's Shareholder Action Guide here and share with your networks! 

Join us in sending the message to Wendy’s leadership that they can no longer ignore the tens of thousands of consumers boycotting their restaurants as farmworkers lead their own struggle for justice in the fields.

 

Help us raise $25,000 to fuel the Wendy's Boycott!

In response to the tremendous momentum building day by day in the Wendy’s Boycott, we’re trying something we’ve never done before. We're launching a campaign to raise a critical $25,000 in the month of May to fuel our plans for escalating action in the upcoming months.

Announcing: the Wendy's Boycott Fund!

The SFA network is on an unstoppable action streak in the struggle for farmworker justice! The centerpiece of the CIW's sweeping 12-city, 14-day Return to Human Rights Tour — an historic weeklong fast by 19 courageous students and alumni at The Ohio State University — sparked the fire for the rolling student fasts at over a dozen university campuses from Florida to Michigan in April. And it’s only to be continued with a formidable, larger-than-ever mobilization outside of Wendy’s upcoming shareholder meeting at the company’s Dublin, OH headquarters in just 19 days!

Action on this unprecedented scale — and our plans to ramp up the pressure throughout the summer and into the fall towards an inevitable victory in the boycott — will require the financial support of every member of SFA's diverse network.

So we’re calling on you, the young leaders taking incredible action in the movement for Fair Food, to help us kickstart the Wendy’s Boycott Fund. Contribute what you can, whether it’s $5, $15, $25, $100 or more. Every little bit counts and brings us closer to raising $25,000! 

It’s a lofty goal, but so is bringing a corporate giant like Wendy's into the CIW’s Fair Food Program, following the company's appalling shift of tomato purchases away from Florida to farms in Mexico littered with unchecked violence and exploitation for farmworkers. Yet, working alongside the CIW, we’ve played a critical role in winning 14 unimaginable victories and securing dignity and respect in the workplace for tens of thousands of farmworkers, and counting.

And now, the expansion of these rights is at stake. In order to ensure that the shared vision for justice in the fields that farmworkers and their allies have fought for over the last 25 years continues to expand to reach more workers in more crops, we need to bring Wendy's to the table in 2017. Building pressure in the months ahead is imperative for a win in the Wendy’s Boycott — and if history is any indicator of what students and farmworkers are capable of together — we know that it’s not a matter of if we will win, but when.

Donate to the Wendy’s Boycott Fund today!

International labor rights expert James Brudney pens hard-hitting op/ed for OSU campus newspaper comparing Fair Food Program and Wendy’s corporate code of conduct!

Late last week, the Ohio State University’s campus newspaper, The Lantern, published a game-changing new opinion piece by James Brudney, an international expert on labor standards and enforcement policies and former professor for 19 years at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. In his op/ed, he makes an irrefutable comparison between the CIW’s award-winning Fair Food Program and Wendy’s Supplier Code of Conduct, concluding that “voluntary codes like the one promulgated by Wendy’s are too often little more than a sham.”

And while OSU students have provided President Drake and top administrators with ample evidence pointing to the human rights crisis in Mexico’s fields where Wendy’s buys its tomatoes — and to the fact that Wendy’s corporate code of conduct is nothing more than an aspirational set of nonenforceable standards — Professor Brudney’s expert analysis on the subject certainly makes OSU SFA’s case for booting Wendy’s off campus even stronger than before. This is highlighted in Professor Brudney’s strong conclusion, urging the OSU administration to “listen to the students’ concerns and recognize the difference between a genuine and effective program preventing supply chain exploitation of workers and a set of expectations.”

Truly, the powerful op/ed speaks for itself. Here it is in its entirety:

Letter to the Editor: Ohio State administrators should listen to concerns about Wendy’s
As a professor of labor law at the Moritz College of Law from 1992 to 2011, and a member of the University Labor Advisory Committee for the final ten years of my service, I have followed with interest the efforts at OSU to get Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program. I understand one issue that has arisen involves comparisons between the FFP code of conduct and Wendy’s recently updated code of conduct for its suppliers. I want to offer my thoughts on this comparison.
The FFP, whose active participants include most other major fast food brands in the U.S. — including Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway and Chipotle — involves individual enforceable agreements between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, on behalf of thousands of tomato workers in southwest Florida, and each of these fast food companies. The contracts obligate the Brands to use as suppliers only those growers that abide by the FFP code of conduct, a code fully informed by the workers themselves.  This code is vigorously monitored and enforced by the Fair Food Standards Council, a third-party monitor launched in 2011 that relies on worker participation to help assure compliance.
Two features of the FFP stand in stark contrast to the approach adopted by Wendy’s. One is that the FFP program involves a mandatory code, with meaningful enforcement through careful and comprehensive monitoring. Between 2010 and 2017, participating buyers — including Wendy’s major fast-food competitors — contributed almost 25 million dollars in wage premiums to improve farm worker wages. The FFP code also sets forth certain provisions that carry immediate consequences if violated: prohibitions against forced labor and child labor of any kind, the use or threat of physical violence, and sexual harassment involving physical contact. Growers have been suspended from the program for violations of these provisions. As the culture of compliance has become imbedded in the Florida tomato fields, there are far fewer violations in 2017 than there were in 2010.
By contrast, the 2017 Wendy’s code for its suppliers—many operating in Mexico—is entirely voluntary. The document is filled with hortatory statements that carry no consequences for non-compliance: what Wendy’s “expects” of its suppliers (e.g. “our suppliers are expected to fairly compensate” their employees; “we expect our suppliers to provide a work environment free of discrimination and harassment”) and how Wendy’s thinks its suppliers “should” treat their workers (e.g. “our suppliers should not utilize” forced labor; “our suppliers should ensure all employees work in compliance with applicable laws and regulations”).  
The Wendy’s approach — a voluntary corporate code of conduct, backed by corporate self-monitoring — has for many years been dismissed as inadequate with respect to supply chain production.  Countless studies and reports—by human rights specialists, international organizations, and scholars—confirm that internal corporate monitoring effectively invites suppliers to engage in deceptive practices. These widespread practices include keeping double sets of books; concealing workplace hazards; scripting worker participation while chilling genuine worker input; and relying on top-down examination of documentary records rather than time-consuming investigation of working conditions on the shop floor or in the fields. Sadly, voluntary codes like the one promulgated by Wendy’s are too often little more than a sham.
The second notable contrast between the FFP and Wendy’s 2017 code relates to the active and unthreatened participation of workers. Under the FFP, the tomato workers, now together with a committee of growers, determine the contents of the code. They also play an essential role in monitoring its effectiveness—through worker-to-worker education sessions; compliance interviews with FFP staff; establishment of safety and health committees at every farm; and use of a 24-hour worker hotline.
Again by contrast, the Wendy’s code for suppliers is notably silent on worker participation, let alone worker voice in determining code contents or effectiveness. The code states that “suppliers must not threaten or penalize employees as a result of any lawful efforts to organize or bargain effectively.”  This statement begs certain critical questions. What exactly are the “lawful efforts to organize or bargain collectively” in U.S. farm fields, given that agricultural workers are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act? How does the law protect worker voice in Mexican farm fields, where reports of violence and retaliation against such efforts are regrettably common? And what mechanism does the Wendy’s suppliers’ code offer for workers to participate in formulating its contents, or for workers to enjoy meaningful protections when they seek to improve conditions in the fields controlled by these suppliers?
Twenty-five years ago, few observers in this country would have thought that what CIW and FFP have accomplished was conceivable, given centuries of oppressed farm labor in the U.S. —including over 200 years of slavery, a century of sharecropper exploitation, and decades of abusive conditions for the migrant workers who today comprise the bulk of the agricultural workforce. The FFP and CIW have secured basic labor standards protections for tens of thousands of tomato pickers. But they have not achieved total success, and their campaigns continue in Florida and elsewhere. It is unfortunate that Wendy’s, virtually alone among major fast food brands in the U.S., has so far chosen not to join this effort. I hope that at Ohio State, administrators can listen to the students’ concerns and recognize the difference between a genuine and effective program preventing supply chain exploitation of workers and a set of expectations.
James J. Brudney
Professor of Law
Fordham University Law School

President Drake and the OSU administration: If having 19 OSU students and alumni go without food for seven days outside of your doorstep isn’t enough… if hearing directly from farmworkers themselves on their experience with abuses in the fields and in building the Fair Food Program isn’t enough… and now, if hearing from a renowned international labor law expert and member of the OSU community for 20 years isn’t enough… 

Then what will be considered “enough” for you to keep your promise and cut the contract with Wendy’s once and for all? 

All eyes are on you. 

Ohio State President Drake and Vanderbilt Chancellor Zeppos: You can run, but you can't hide....

10.jpg

As the spring semester begins to wind down, SFA's national "Boot the Braids" campaign is heating up! It's been quite an exciting start to the week as Notre Dame University, Georgetown University and Barry University take on the torch in the national rolling student fast, and two major Boot the Braids actions take off at Ohio State and Vanderbilt. We've got on-the-ground action reports from Columbus and Nashville, proving that sooner or later the leaders of this country's top universities will be forced to face student concerns over contractual ties with greedy corporations, like Wendy's, that turn a blind eye to farmworker exploitation in their supply chain. 

Ohio State:  “All eyes are on you, President Drake.  Keep your word and cut the contract with Wendy’s!”

Just as the semester drew to a close in Columbus, scores of students with the OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance and Real Food OSU gathered on the university’s Oval for a march calling on President Michael Drake to keep his word and cut OSU’s contract with Wendy’s, unless and until Wendy’s joins the Fair Food Program.

After nearly four years of campaigning for OSU to take a stand for fundamental human rights, 19 students and alumni fasted for 7 days last month during CIW's major action — a courageous act that sparked a national movement of rolling student fasts in the Wendy’s Boycott.  As the rolling fast spread like wildfire to nearly a dozen universities across the country, all calling on President Drake to honor his promise and cut the contract with Wendy’s, students were told to expects a decision by the end of the semester.

Yet, with the last day of classes behind them, and finals season coming to a close, the OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance has yet to receive a response from the administration.  But the OSU students would not stand for silence.  On Tuesday, students held a spirited march through the heart of campus with their message focused squarely on President Drake. 

As dozens of red-braided participants gathered at the heart of campus to begin the march, Reyna Lusson ’18 (below) brought the crowd up to date on the rolling fast that has swept the country: 

OSU has the power to stand with farmworkers on the right side of history, and create a beautiful example for universities nationwide … This movement is gaining power every day, and has the support of allies across the country.  OSU students and community members did a 7 day fast for farmworker justice last month, which has turned into a rolling fast through many other schools, including University of Michigan, Vanderbilt, Georgetown University, Notre Dame, and New College of Florida— where the university’s president, Don O’Shea, fasted for a day in solidarity with the OSU Boot the Braids campaign.  We will not compromise, we will not back down, we will not take no for an answer.  All eyes are on you, President Drake: keep your word and cut the contract with Wendy’s!

With that, the crowd marched into the library, breaking out in song, and inviting all those studying in the stacks to take a moment to learn about the crucial role OSU could play in the struggle for farmworkers’ human rights.  As a banner dropped from the third floor reading “OSU is Complicit in Wendy’s Human Rights Violations,” hundreds of students gathered to hear Alex Hoey ’19 clearly lay out why OSU must ‘Boot the Braids’ before she and the other marchers were escorted from the building.  

thumb_IMG_4629_1024.jpg

But the marchers were undeterred, making a beeline from the library to OSU’s administration building, where only a month ago, 19 students and alumni were camped out for their weeklong fast.  Told that President Drake was unavailable to meet them, faster Emily Evans ’17 turned to the group and read aloud what she would have shared with Dr. Drake to the group:  

“During our weeklong fast, we met with Provost Bruce McPherson, Geoff Chatas, and other top administrators.  We had farmworkers with us, sharing their direct experiences of oppression in the fields.  And what did these administrators do?  They laughed in our faces.  President Drake, human rights are not up for interpretation!  Listen to Buckeye Nation!”

As the group chanted “President Drake, where are you?  Who are you accountable to?” the group ended their march by heading to the Ohio Union, once again drawing the attention of hundreds of students on the Oval and hundreds more inside the Union itself.

To bring the inspiring march through campus to a rousing conclusion, Rachael Birri ’20 closed with these words:

“Justice delayed is justice denied. President Drake, the world is watching.  We will be back in the fall stronger than ever, should you chose to stand on the wrong side of history and continue to break your word.  We won’t allow our university to profit off of exploitation any longer.  President Drake, cut the contract now!”

Vanderbilt students:  “Food without justice is no food at all…”

Bright and early on Tuesday morning, ahead of the noontime march through campus and the breaking of the students’ 7-day fast there, the Vanderbilt Political Review published an op-ed by student faster Ania Szczesniewski.  In her hard-hitting piece, Ania calls out Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos for his unacceptable failure to heed students’ calls for justice and cut ties with a fast food company that has willfully evaded its responsibility to protect farmworkers’ human rights.  In just one of the highlights from the article, she writes:

“Whereas the Fair Food Program has nearly ended modern day slavery in Florida and empowers workers to defend themselves from sexual assault, physical intimidation, the deleterious health effects of unprotected contact with pesticides, wage theft, and other human rights violations, Wendy’s continues to source from farms without such protections, fetching a lower price for produce. Their search has transported their sourcing  out of the US and into Mexico where there is no comparable program in existence or even forming on the horizon. In fact, egregious human rights violations, from child labor to slavery, have been widely reported on Mexican farms where Wendy’s is currently purchasing…

…As someone who has had hundreds of conversations with different students about the Wendy’s campaign, there’s no denying that a large share of the student body is disturbed by Chancellor Zeppos’ tolerance of Vanderbilt’s complicity to human exploitation.”  Read more

And those hundreds of conversations were not without result.  Even amidst the buzz and bustle of final projects, term papers and graduation preparations, Vanderbilt student leaders spent the days ahead of Tuesday’s actions gathering over 600 signatures for their petition to remove Wendy’s from VU’s Taste of Nashville Program (totaling in more than 1,300 signatures from VU students this year, on top of the 700 gathered last semester!).  

At noon, students kicked off the breaking of the fast with a lively picket at the Wendy’s on West End — the campus restaurant where students can use their Vanderbilt dining card to grab a burger or Frosty.  In addition to dozens of students, the protest was further bolstered by members of Nashville Fair Food and Workers’ Dignity — and of course, CIW members from Immokalee!

9.jpg

The picket soon turned into a march to the heart of campus, where student fasters had been camped out all week.  And despite the deep physical toll exacted by seven days without food, the fasters’ spirits were stronger than ever — faster Cal Filkin even led the protest march in song!

When they arrived at the fasting tent, they were greeted by over 50 awaiting students, many of whom had committed to fast for 24 hours in solidarity with the Boot the Braids campaign.  From there, the march numbers continued to swell, as more and more students joined the trek to Chancellor Zeppos’s office and upon arrival, began to file into the building, with a little helping hand for those who had fasted for the week. 

Nearly 100 students packed the room once inside the administration building to deliver the 600 new petition signatures, along with dozens of letters of support from faculty and campus organizations, directly to the Chancellor.  

Rather than come out to face students himself, however, Chancellor Zeppos sent Vice Chancellor for Administration Eric Kopstain to receive the students’ demands.  Undaunted, Cal took the opportunity to explain to Vice Chancellor Kopstain why he chose to go without food for seven days during the last week of the semester: 

“I’m here to talk about the workers that are here, the people they represent, and the changes they’re trying to make in our food system… One thing that Vanderbilt can do to help bring about that change is terminate our contract with Wendy’s. […]

[…]  As a moral institution, it is the thing that we ought to do, that we’re required to do if we want to call ourselves an institution with a moral code, with a compass.  I think it is important for us to think about the people who produce our food, who might not be treated properly… who are not allowed water breaks or shade breaks, or who might be subjected to physical intimidation, sexual assault and harassment, and unable to report those things.  I think that Vanderbilt can lead the charge in terminating its university contract with Wendy’s and help persuade them to sign the Fair Food Program, which provides protections against those things.”

CIW’s Nely Rodriguez, standing by the student fasters, reaffirmed the commitment of students and farmworkers in seeing the campaign at Vanderbilt through until the Wendy’s contract is cut, so long as the fast-food chain refuses to join the Fair Food Program: 

“Today, the Fair Food Program is changing the lives thousands of people.  It has been recognized by the White House, earning a Presidential Medal for its advances in protecting workers’ human rights and ending modern day slavery.  This is also an opportunity for Chancellor Zeppos to take responsibility and be accountable to the students of this University who are here… We will continue to lead this boycott and support these students in their campaign to end the contract.” 

Vice Chancellor Kopstain thanked all those present for coming, and promised to pass the letters and petitions along to Chancellor Zeppos in order to continue the dialogue about the campaign.

Once back outside, the group gathered to break bread together — some, for the first time in a week.  Joseph Sheeran, a Presbyterian student at the Vanderbilt Divinity School, shared a biblical reflection to mark the end of the seven-day fast:

“Those of you who have fasted this week understand that we cannot live simply on bread or food.  But that food without justice is no food at all.  We understand that as students at this university we have an obligation to speak to the powers that be, and the powers that be away… about this profound need for justice.” 

After the emotional fast-breaking ceremony, the group shared a meal together at the Rand Dining Center before sharing their own reflections on student/farmworker solidarity and the extraordinary excitement built on campus for the Wendy’s Boycott over the last week.  Vanderbilt students and Nashville community are fired up and already making plans for the road ahead in bringing the Boot the Braids campaign to victory! 

BONUS: As scores of OSU students marched on President Drake's offices in Columbus demanding that he cut the contract with Wendy's, DC Fair Food members confronted him regarding his inaction to meet student concerns after a panel presentation on higher education at the Economic Club of Washington. Caught off guard, and feeling the pressure even outside of Columbus while visiting DC, President Drake said, "What we've said is that we've been talking with them (Wendy's) and looking toward policies that effectively protect workers, which I've been working on actually for my whole life and will continue to work on. So I appreciate your support and will continue working on it. “

Well, President Drake, live up to your values! Cut the contract with Wendy's to support worker-driven social responsibility and ensure that the tens of thousands of farmworkers who harvest the food served at OSU can do so with dignity. 

CALL TO ACTION: Send videos to OSU administration in support of Boot the Braids campaign before Sunday!

The incredible momentum building across the SFA network, sparked by last month's weeklong fast by 19 Ohio State University students and alumni to pressure the administration to boot Wendy's off campus, is swiftly growing by the day as more (and more!) students join the nationwide rolling fast.

We've got major developments from this week's campus fasts in Tampa Bay and Nashville stacked below, but first, here's an important call to action just released by OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance

Stand in solidarity with students at OSU by sending a short, 30-second to one-minute video addressed to the OSU administration by Sunday, April 23rd.  Students at OSU will be sharing these videos with Ohio State administrators to send the message that we will not stop taking action until they do the right thing by cutting its contract with Wendy’s.
Consider the following points that can be used as a guide to send your message to the OSU administration:
What’s the message?
+ In your video, directly address President Drake and the leadership of OSU
+ Include the message:  “OSU, we’re watching you. Keep your word and cut the contract with Wendy’s.”
+ By maintaining this contract, OSU is complicit in the human rights abuses of farmworkers in Wendy’s supply chain.
+ The OSU administration has met with farmworkers, who have explained in their own words why Wendy’s Code of Conduct has no real mechanisms to ensure their rights, compared to the Fair Food Program, and yet OSU remains unconvinced.
+ Students are not satisfied with the actions of Wendy’s or the OSU administration. Their concerns will not be resolved until Wendy’s joins the Fair Food Program.
What kind of video?  Remember: Short and direct videos that get the message across in a clear and powerful way are the most effective. We are asking for 30-second or minute-long videos.  And feel free to get creative! Consider incorporating props, costumes, or theater in your video.
When you’ve finished recording, post your video to the OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance Facebook page.

Less than two weeks ago, students interrupted the OSU Board of Trustees meeting with a powerful action, demanding that the administration keep its promise and remove Wendy's from campus given students' indisputable dissatisfaction with the fast food company's farm labor practices. And next on the horizon is the “Keep Your Word” Rally on OSU’s campus next Tuesday, April 25 at 3 p.m. 

Number of students fasting for farmworker justice on the rise from Tampa Bay to Nashville! 

Tampa_Bay_fasters9-e1492692136477.jpg

Back in Florida, the Tampa Bay student fast — a collaborative action among undergraduate and graduate students at the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa, and Eckerd College — hit the ground running after taking up the torch from students at New College of Sarasota and Valencia College.  Having started the week with eight committed fasters, the three universities now count 16 students taking part in the rolling fast, and over 30 more students who took part in 24-hour solidarity fasts throughout the week!  

On Wednesday evening, students from all three schools gathered at the very Wendy's to which, just a couple short weeks ago, nearly 300 marched during the grand finale of the CIW's Return to Human Rights Tour. In a spirited protest, students and supportive professors and community allies — and even, one of last week's student fasters Xavier, from Valencia College — made a colorful splash during rush hour in the streets of Tampa.

Here are some moving reflections from student fasters Katie Shrum and Zulema Ramos:

Zulema Ramos, University of Tampa: "....I am simply grateful to be alive to help a cause such as the Fair Food Program, and to have come into contact with so many compassionate and driven humans." 

Katie, University of South Florida: "... I had never experienced protest with such rich colors, musical instruments and a general atmosphere of joy in civic engagement. I decided to get more involved, and quickly agreed to participate in the USF fasting action to Boot the Braids. This week has been challenging, and inspirational....  We all stand in solidarity with OSU, the CIW and all farmworkers to say — we will have no food, if we cannot have Fair Food.... we will not waver and we will not stop spreading this message."

Inspired by their peers at Ohio State, students at Vanderbilt University, joined by another student at Trevecca Nazarene, have now entered Day 4 of their own 7-day fast to demand that  Vanderbilt cut ties with Wendy's, which is currently one of the restaurant options on their off-campus dining program.

Since setting up camp outside the Rand Dining Center last Tuesday, catching hundreds of students walking to class or making their way to lunch, the number of student fasters has more than doubled, as more and more students learned of the Wendy's Boycott — and of their university's own unsavory connection with Wendy's. 

On Monday, quickly after students delivered a letter to Vanderbilt Chancellor Zeppos' office declaring their intention to fast for 7 days, the administration reached out to set up a meeting with students to discuss the action. On Tuesday, students sat down with the dining service administrators, who once again, were unmoved by the horrific abuses faced by workers in Wendy's supply chain. Students reaffirmed their own commitment not only to fasting for the remainder of the seven days, but to building the Boot the Braids Campaign on Vanderbilt's campus until the contract was cut.

Head over to the CIW website to catch the full reports and media coverage from the rolling fast in Tampa Bay and Nashville

As the rolling fast continues onward, be sure to check back soon for even more news from the Wendy's Boycott frontlines, and don't forget to send in your video to OSU's President Drake before Sunday.  “We're watching, OSU.  Keep your word, cut the contract with Wendy’s!”

Students' commitment to fast for farmworker justice keeps rolling!

New College students pass the torch to students at Vanderbilt University, Eckerd College, University of Tampa and University of South Florida!

After five long days of fasting — an act that inspired more than 80 of their fellow New College students, as well as college President Donal O’Shea, to fast alongside them — five students from New College of Florida and Valencia College broke bread with farmworkers from Immokalee on Good Friday following a picket at a Wendy’s in Sarasota. Don't miss the exciting photo reports from the New College five-day fast! 

The New College fast was just the latest echo of the tremor felt across the Fair Food Nation when 19 students and alumni from Ohio State University launched their weeklong fast last month as a part of SFA's swiftly growing Boot the Braids campaign.  And the nationwide student fast called by OSU students keeps rolling! 

Next in line this week are four students from Vanderbilt University who begin their own seven-day fast today, joined by dozens of students from Eckerd College, the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa, who will be fasting over the course of five days. 

Like their peers at the University of Michigan – the first school to pick up the rolling fast from OSU – Vanderbilt students are leading their own campaign to Boot the Braids from the Nashville, TN, campus community.  Over the past year, Vanderbilt students have called repeatedly on their university to end its relationship with Wendy’s in light of the fast food chain’s refusal to join the Fair Food Program.  The university, however, has failed to act, despite several meetings with student leaders and over 700 signatures in a campus petition campaign in support of booting Wendy’s off campus.

But Vanderbilt students aren’t the only ones taking action this week!  Inspired by the commitment of their peers, eight students at the University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of Tampa began a three-day fast yesterday, which will end in a 24-hour, campus-wide fast on Wednesday.  

Fresh off an exciting campaign victory just last week that resulted in the affiliation of USF with the Workers’ Rights Consortium – a worker-driven initiative to protect the rights of workers in garment supply chains similar to the Fair Food Program –  the USF chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops is spearheading this week’s fast in alliance with the USF Graduate Assistants Union and farmworker support group, USF Members Empowering True Awareness (META), as well as UT’s Environmental Protection Coalition.

Following the campus-wide fast at USF on Wednesday, Tampa students will pass the torch across the bay to over a dozen fellow students at Eckerd College in nearby St. Petersburg to finish off the week with one- to three-day fasts.  (Of course, this is not the first time Eckerd College students have fasted for farmworker justice:  Thirteen years past, students from Eckerd College joined the nationwide Boot the Bell hunger strikes on campuses across the U.S., with six students fasting for five days!)

And this is only the beginning:  Be sure to stay tuned for more updates as they roll in from student fasts across the country. If you’re interested in joining, hit us up at organize@sfalliance.org to add your campus to the growing list! 

Check out the full photo report from the five-day New College fast in solidarity with the OSU Boot the Braids campaign over at the CIW website! 

"Keep your word! Cut the contract with Wendy's!" OSU students put President Drake on blast at Board of Trustees meeting!

headerphoto.jpg

PLUS: Students at New College of Florida begin five-day fast in solidarity with OSU's Boot the Braids campaign

On Thursday, the CIW put out an expertly-crafted analysis on OSU's self-destructive relationship with Wendy's, tracking the corporation’s long and disturbing  record of resistance to the "best workplace-monitoring program" in the U.S.  As students across the Fair Food Nation know, the fast food hold-out’s illustrious record includes intentionally shifting its tomato purchases away from Florida to farms in Mexico, where workers continue to suffer from sexual violence, discrimination, wage theft and even slavery, as well as issuing an empty supplier code of conduct with zero mechanisms to trigger real or meaningful consequences for those kinds of human rights violations.

What's worse, Wendy's has become so desperate in looking for ways to escape all the bad press they've received as a result of the ever-larger national boycott, its PR department has decided to pull a trick out of an old, raggedy bag of failed corporate public relations ploys. Their latest move? Falsely accusing the CIW of corruption, stating that "Wendy's considers the extra penny to be a fee paid to the coalition."  In reality the "penny per pound" premium is paid by the buyers to the growers who then agree to pass it along to workers in the form of a bonus — a fact that every single one of Wendy's top competitors could easily verify as they're all participating in the Fair Food Program.

And now, as the CIW simply puts it, "the Ohio State University administration must decide how far it will allow its fast-food partner to drag a proud university down into the mud".

The day after CIW published the knockout post, OSU President Drake was scheduled to speak at the University’s bi-monthly Board of Trustees meeting on significant campus affairs and initiatives since their last meeting in January.  And unfortunately for him, his report on the previous two months didn't go as smoothly as he'd planned.

Over two dozen OSU students, alumni, professors and Columbus community members crashed the meeting, loudly chanting "Keep your word! Cut the contract with Wendy's!" and calling out President Drake for neglecting to mention one very important issue on campus: OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance's burgeoning Boot the Braids campaign, and the University’s opportunity to be a leader among the country’s most prestigious universities in taking a stand for farmworkers’ human rights.

Henry Peller, one of the 19 brave OSU student fasters from last month's weeklong fast at OSU, disrupted the meeting, putting President Drake on blast in front of his colleagues (and the 4,000+ people who watched the action live on Facebook) for breaking his promise to students and extending the Wendy's on-campus lease :

...By cutting the contract, OSU will push Wendy's to join this program. Instead, OSU continues to be complicit in Wendy's exploitation. Two years ago, OSU added a clause to the contract stating that Wendy's must meet the concerns of the Student/Farmworker Alliance — that's us — however, the contract was extended this past November, even though our concerns have not been met. Our concerns will only be met when Wendy's signs the Fair Food Program. Will you, Board of Trustees, keep your word and cut the contract with Wendy's? Yes or no?"

Following the meeting, the group of students and their supporters gathered outside, where OSU student faster Reyna Lusson closed out the triumphant protest by delivering a powerful message for President Drake:

"We challenge you to imagine a world where the foods we eat are harvested with dignity and justice; where farmworkers can live and work without fear of sexual assault or harassment; where they earn a fair, living wage and can actually bring home the fruits of their labor to feed themselves and their families; where just one more penny per pound of tomatoes is enough to make a huge difference.

This is the world that exists for many farmworkers. The world that many have fought for and won already. This world is called the Fair Food Program. This world is possible and you have the power to help us create it."

And as President Drake decides whether or not to use the one form of real leverage within his reach — namely, whether or not OSU will be a leader nationwide as the first university to ban Wendy's from campus until the company joins the Fair Food Program — students and young people across the country are taking note and taking action.

Meanwhile, in Florida...

In the aftermath of last month’s 7-day fast by OSU students, an action that inspired the whole of the Fair Food Nation and millions more through national press coverage, SFAers in Florida have been among  those who have  stepped up to the plate  after OSU students' call for others to take up the fast in support of their Boot the Braids campaign.

Today, the following six students at New College of Florida in Sarasota and Valencia College in Orlando begin a five-day fast in solidarity with OSU students, who the Floridians met during the Parade for Human Rights in Columbus last month:

Alex Schelle, New College of Florida, 3rd year student
Emily Anne King, New College of Florida, 2nd year student
Sarah Friend, New College of Florida, 2nd year student
Xavier Goud, Valencia College student
Ximena Pedroza, New College of Florida, 2nd year student
Yasmeen Wilson, New College of Florida, 2nd year student

New College students will bring attention to their fast with an impressive line-up of events throughout the week, including a dynamite panel on the Fair Food Program's pioneering approach to addressing social responsibility in corporate supply chains, featuring members of the CIW, the Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network and Migrant Justice .  And of course, it wouldn't be a week of action without a protest!  On Friday at 6 p.m., farmworkers, local religious leaders, community allies and fellow New College students will join the fasters for a Boycott Wendy's picket at the Wendy's on U.S. 41 in Sarasota.

And the national rolling fast doesn’t stop there:  Up next, students at University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and Barry University will be continuing the next leg of the rolling student fast. There's still time to add your campus to the growing list. Get in touch with us at organize@sfalliance.org to begin organizing your fast. And stay tuned for news on how the national SFA network can support in kicking Wendy's off OSU’s campus before the semester ends!