The spring semester may be winding down with finals just around the corner, but the vibrant student/farmworker movement to end sexual violence in the fields is still going hard! Last Thursday, students from nearly 30 schools around the country ushered in the month of April, observed nationally as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, by bridging the struggle to wipe out sexual harassment against women from campus to the fields — and holding Wendy's (and university administrations that continue doing business as usual with the fast-food company) accountable for failing to protect farmworker women!
Today, we bring you exciting highlights from the "It's On Wendy's" National Day of Action, which made waves in 26 cities from Oakland, California to Miami, FL to Providence, Rhode Island, after Wendy's blunder of epic proportions — the company's spokesperson Heidi Schauer went on record accusing farmworker women of "trying to exploit" the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.
Students fought back — on the Internet and in the streets — declaring that CIW farmworker women are central leaders in the national movement against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace and demanding that Wendy's join the industry standard for effectively combatting gender-based violence in the fields: the Fair Food Program!
Gainesville, FL — University of Florida
First up, students at the University of Florida ramped up their Boot the Braids campaign with a colorful march from the Reitz Union, home to one of two on-campus Wendy's, to the office of President W. Kent Fuchs requesting an in-person meeting. Four days before the march, UF senior and SFAer Lucero Ruballos published a bold open letter to the President on behalf of dozens of concerned UF students, faculty and alumni in the widely-read daily student newspaper The Independent Florida Alligator:
"...UF does not tolerate sexual harassment and abuse of any kind on campus. No questions asked. So why put UF’s reputation at risk by meddling in business with a company that unconscionably refuses to take meaningful action to eradicate sexual violence and other human rights abuse in its supply chain?
It is no secret that thousands of farmworker women are forced into silence by the grabbing clutches of fear, violence and corruption that define the agricultural industry in Mexico.
In the era of #MeToo, we must lift up real, enforceable solutions to stamp out and prevent sexual harassment and assault in the workplace — and hold corporate giants like Wendy’s responsible for failing to rid their supply chains of human rights violations.
As stakeholders of all matters tied to UF, we will not accept the influence and presence of a fast-food brand on campus that looks the other way as farmworker women sacrifice their dignity to feed their families..."
As the march's bright yellow flags and red, tomato-shaped protest signs made their way across UF's Spanish moss-covered campus, members of CHISPAS UF, Lucha Latina and the Hispanic Student Association, chanted and handed out hundreds of flyers spreading the message of the Boot the Braids campaign to passersby. Upon arrival, a delegation of student leaders, including HSA President-elect Brenda Villanueva, and CIW's own Nely Rodriguez, entered a sit-down meeting with Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Kay Carodine, who showed face on the President's behalf. She promised to set up a meeting between the students and Mr. Fuchs and pass along their firm demand to immediately remove Wendy's from campus until the company joins the Fair Food Program!
Providence, RI — Brown University
Brown University students — just a few weeks after helping to mobilize over 90 students and youth from across the Northeast to the Time's Up Wendy's March in New York City — held a lunchtime speak out with over 40 people, drawing out the gross connections between hedge fund Trian Partners, directed by Wendy's Board Chair Nelson Peltz and one of Brown's largest corporate donors, Mondelez International Inc.
They declared: "The same corporate money used to oppress farmworkers runs through the very veins of our university. We, the students, have therefore benefited [from Peltz's backward business deals] which intimately ties us even further to the call for solidarity with farmworker women and men who are being exploited by Peltz and his investments." (Be sure to also check out this incredible podcast on the CIW's Freedom Fast produced by Brown student Lauren Black!)
New York City — New York University
On the heels of an unforgettable march in New York City with over 2,000 farmworkers and allies, NYU Peer Health Exchange marched from NYU Kimmel Stairs through Washington Square Park and down Broadway to the local Wendy's. The students attempted to deliver a "red-dot" to the manager representing the unsafe working conditions and excessive levels of sexual abuse that farmworker women suffer in Mexico's fields, Wendy's produce industry of choice. Students chanted and distributed flyers, spreading the message that New Yorkers will continue to #BoycottWendys until Wendy's Board Chair Nelson Peltz, who lives and works in the city, does something to eliminate violence in his company's supply chain!
Nashville, TN — Vanderbilt University, Middle Tennessee State University, Trevecca Nazarene University and Nashville State Community College
Students from four major Nashville schools and members of Workers' Dignity teamed up for an energetic picket and manager letter delivery at a local Wendy's to express their beef with Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, who has refused to cut ties with a company that profits from labor rights violations, including sexual violence and forced labor, in Mexico's tomato industry.
Columbus, OH — Ohio State University
The unstoppable OSU SFA crew organized a (successful!) letter delivery to the local Wendy's across campus. Colorful as ever, the group chanted, sang Fair Food tunes and handed out flyers exposing Wendy's and OSU's complicity in ongoing sexual violence against women farmworkers to hundreds of Columbus community members who walked by the busy High Street thoroughfare — several whom committed to #BoycottWendys on the spot!
Washington, DC — Georgetown University, American University and George Washington University
Members of DC Fair Food, DC International Workers of the World and students from three major DC universities — Georgetown University, American University and George Washington University — came together to declare that #ItsOnWendys to stop spreading lies about the CIW and end workplace harassment and assault in its supply chain! In an interview with On the Ground, SFA Steering Committee member Sara Policastro rebukes Wendy's wild accusation that CIW is "trying to exploit" the momentum of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements: "[This is] an outrageous thing to say about a group of women of color who for decades have been pioneering this work and have been at the forefront of ending abuses in the fields..."
After the picket, the group participated in a solidarity march with #HUResist student activists who occupied Howard University's administration building for over a week after an embezzlement scandal broke involving theft of $1 million in financial aid funding.
St. Petersburg, FL — Eckerd College
Eckerd College students marched from campus to their local Wendy's affirming their commitment to #BoycottWendys until the fast-food company respects the dignity of farmworker women!
Athens, OH – Ohio University
Ohio University student Lori Boegershausen joined her peers from Ohio University with a video posted from Athens, OH!
Sarasota, FL — New College of Florida
New College students and Sarasota Fair Food members pulled off an exciting twofer action, marching from Publix to Wendy's through one of the busiest streets in town! Santiago Perez of the CIW supported the students' action as they took turns voicing their disgust over Wendy's ridiculous attack on the farmworker community in Immokalee and demonstrated their resolve to keep up the fight until the fast food holdout finally gets with the Program.
Chapel Hill, NC — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
UNC Chapel Hill students, along with Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers, organized a march from the main campus quad to the Wendy's at the Graham Student Union, demanding that President Carol Folt stop allowing UNC to do business with a crooked corporation that profits from the suffering of farmworker women and Boot the Braids once and for all.
Charlotte, NC — Latin American Coalition
With a beautiful day-dawning banner with the words "We're in the fight for a better future" inscribed above and below, a coalition of groups including Action NC, Latin American Coalition, and Communications Workers of America paused their march in honor of farmworker organizers for 20 minutes to picket, demonstrate, and attempt to enter and deliver a letter to their local Wendy's. The group also debuted a larger-than-life manager letter to ensure everyone who drove by learned about the Wendy's Boycott!
Longtime CIW allies in Oakland made an appearance outside their local Wendy's with colorful protest signs and Fair Food jams to spread the message of the national boycott with passersby and the manager on duty. If you haven't done so already, don't miss these rockin' boycott-inspired remixes by SFA troubadour Liz Fitzgerald, who livened fasters' spirits on the final day of the Freedom Fast last month.
Rio Grande Valley, TX — Fuerza del Valle
After mobilizing a bus of compañerxs from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to the CIW's Freedom Fast in New York City, our friends at Fuerza del Valle stepped up to the plate, scheduling back-to-back Food Chains screenings at South Texas College and UT RGV and organizing a #BoycottWendys action in Harlingen.
Notre Dame, IN — Notre Dame University
Notre Dame SFA participated in the national Day of Action by symbolically marking their local Wendy's as a "red-dot" zone, associating the brand with the violent crimes against women that go unchecked every day in the Mexican agricultural industry where Wendy's buys its tomatoes. The growing chapter pledges to take action in the boycott until Wendy's becomes a "green-dot" establishment, like their own university, and takes meaningful steps to ensure that farmworkers in its supply chain are working free from sexual violence.
Pittsburgh, PA — Duquesne University
Duq SFA came through with an ambitious caravan action: the crew hit up all seven Wendy's locations in Pittsburgh delivered pledges to boycott until the fast-food chain joins the CIW's Fair Food Program.
Miami, FL — Barry University
Barry University students, joined by CIW's Julia de la Cruz, successfully delivered a letter to their local manager in Miami.
Cleveland, OH - John Carroll University
At John Carroll University students gathered 129 signatures on a Wendy's manager letter in a just a few short days. Wanting to communicate that Wendy's stands in the way of farmworker justice, the students took their letter to a local Wendy's manager who would not accept it. But this isn't holding them back! Next, the small but mighty group will be sending their collected signatures directly to Wendy's headquarters in Dublin, OH.
Boston, MA — Harvard University and Tufts University
Students from the Harvard School of Public Health and Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition passed out over 100 flyers at the Wendy's downtown, educating the local community about CIW's national Wendy's Boycott. The group attempted to deliver a letter to the manager, making clear that the Campaign for Fair Food will keep picking up steam in Boston until Wendy's comes to the table with farmworkers.
Southwest Florida — Florida Gulf Coast University and Immokalee High School
And to bring it all home, check out the beautiful photos from last Saturday's electric "It's On Wendy's" action in sunny Southwest Florida! Dozens of Florida farmworkers, their families and FGCU students hit the streets to demand justice from Wendy's and Publix for the women and men who harvest the food that ends up on our tables!
The photos speak for themselves, but we'll give the last word to Arletys Gomez, a student leader from the FGCU SFA chapter:
"As college students we have firsthand experience in the fight against sexual violence, and we know how important it is to allow women a voice and access to rights in the face of injustice. If we don’t tolerate sexual assault on our campus, why should we tolerate it in the fields?
We won’t allow Wendy’s to continue denying our voices, to continue turning a blind eye to sexual abuse faced by farmworker women. It has gone on for too long, and today we are taking a stand!"
26 actions confirmed & counting!
From Miami to Oakland, students are demanding that Wendy's respect the rights of women farmworkers. Check out the map below to find a protest near you or hit us up at email@example.com to plan your own!
Following last week’s incredible Freedom Fast outside the hedge fund offices of Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz in New York City, in which over 80 farmworkers and allies demanded Wendy's join the Fair Food Program to end sexual harassment and assault against women in the fields, Wendy’s took a desperate stab at a public response.
And miserably failed.
On Wednesday, Wendy’s Director of Corporate Communications Heidi Schauer (if she still holds this position) went on record in the Huffington Post accusing CIW farmworker women leaders of “trying to exploit the positive momentum that has been generated by and for women in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement to advance their interests.”
It didn’t take long for the Internet to clap back at Wendy’s disgusting accusation. Most notably, Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano slammed the fast-food giant on Facebook over the outrageous comment:
After that, it was all downhill for Wendy’s. Here are just a few major publications that have picked up the story in the last 24 hours:
- ELLE Magazine, "The #BoycottWendys Controversy, Explained"
- People.com, "Alyssa Milano Slams Wendy's 'Outrageous' Response Amid Farmworkers' Protest of Fast Food Chain"
- Instyle, "Alyssa Milano Calls for Wendy’s Boycott"
Wendy’s shameless attack on farmworker women not only hit a nerve with leaders in the entertainment industry, but unsurprisingly sparked outrage among students and young people, the prized demographic the company brazenly flaunts as its target market.
Students and young people are gearing up for battle — and we’re fighting back with a National Day of Action on April 5 declaring “It’s On Wendy’s!”
It’s on Wendy’s to retract their wild accusation that farmworker women are “exploiting” the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements in order to avoid backlash for refusing to join the Fair Food Program, the world’s golden standard for eliminating and preventing sexual abuse in the agricultural industry.
It’s on Wendy’s to take responsibility for unconscionably choosing to partner with the Mexican tomato industry, where impunity for crimes of sexual violence in the fields forces women farmworkers into an endless cycle of silence and abuse.
And so, it’s on us — the brilliant grassroots network of students and young people that fuel action in CIW’s national Wendy’s Boycott — to mobilize our campuses in support of farmworker women’s rights.
Join the Student/Farmworker Alliance on April 5 in expanding the “red-dot” campaign, where students are marking campus maps with red dots representing an act of sexual violence, to include Wendy’s restaurants. Organize a march to Wendy’s, and deliver a big red dot to the local manager as a badge of shame for the fast-food giant’s refusal to end sexual violence in its supply chain by joining the Fair Food Program.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an organizing kit to help plan your action, including a sample press release, social media resources and a creative actions guide. And be sure to check back next week for a map of confirmed actions near you.
It’s on, Wendy’s!
On this day in 1948, before a war-weary world, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed a vision of equality, dignity, and rights held by all: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This historic document forms a crucial part of the foundation of the CIW’s movement for Fair Food and farmworker justice. Indeed, in some of their earliest meetings, farmworkers in Immokalee read aloud and reflected on the rights contained in the UN’s declaration, and conceived of a brighter future for all who work in the fields.
Thanks to an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of justice — and the support of millions of consumers over the past twenty years — what was once a dream of human rights for farmworkers has become a reality today under the Fair Food Program. Now, the rights to humane working conditions, to fair wages, and to freedom from slavery and sexual violence are enforced in agricultural fields along the East Coast.
Today, we need your help to make human rights a reality for even more women and men who labor in fields across the U.S.
On this International Human Rights Day, help us bring what the Washington Post called “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” to hundreds of thousands of farmworkers by becoming a Fair Food Sustainer!
Ever thought about living and working alongside farmworkers who are radically changing the agricultural industry? Want to learn more about grassroots organizing with diverse communities for systemic change? If you or someone you know is interested in an opportunity like this, then look no further and consider applying to intern in Immokalee!
The Alliance for Fair Food is seeking interns to live and work at the epicenter of the Campaign for Fair Food this spring. Interns should be flexible to organize with an array of Fair Food allies including, but not limited to, university and high school students, communities of faith (at both a local and national level), and food justice organizations from around the country.
Intern responsibilities include:
- Development of campaign strategy together with the CIW and allies
- Regular communication with the Fair Food network
- Office assistance
- On-the-ground support for members of the Immokalee community
A minimum commitment of 3-5 months is preferred and the start date is flexible. Interns receive free housing and a modest montly stipend.
Given our commitment to developing a diverse leadership, we strongly encourage people of color, women, working-class, LGBTQ, gender non-conforming, and differently-abled people to apply for the intern positions.
The deadline for the spring internship application is December 29, 2017. If you have any interest or know someone whom you think may be a good fit, please forward this to them and reach out to us! You can write us at email@example.com or give us a call at 239-657-8311.
We are looking forward to receiving your application!
Apply today to join over 80 young organizers from across the country in crafting the next phase of the Wendy’s Boycott at SFA’s annual student gathering.
The Fair Food Nation has been on the grind in the Wendy’s Boycott this fall… and we’re only getting started! Hot on the heels of a gorgeous farmworker women-led march through Midtown Manhattan earlier last week, demanding accountability from Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz for the rampant gender-based violence in the company’s supply chain, plans for the upcoming annual Student/Farmworker Alliance Encuentro are now in full swing.
From Jan. 12-15, coinciding with the weekend our country celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of creative nonviolence in the face of social injustice, the SFA network will come together for a gathering like never before… and you will not want to miss out on it.
If you remember, the big Encuentro convergence was set for Sept. 7-10 but was postponed due to Hurricane Irma making landfall over Southwest Florida that same weekend. Following an action-packed fall, we’ll be hosting the Encuentro at The Ohio State University, one of the Boot the Braids campaign hotspots. Another exciting announcement accompanying the big news is that we’re re-opening the Encuentro Application for those who didn’t get a chance to apply the first time around and are interested in attending!
Throughout the long weekend, participants will spend time learning from the tremendous history and leadership of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and creating broad-based strategies with brilliant young organizers to take the national Wendy’s Boycott to new heights. The Encuentro offers skills trainings and organizing workshops, and a space to build community with like-minded individuals who share a vision for a world free from the bounds of corporate greed and impunity.
Want to be a part of one of the most dynamic and creative student/worker movements around? Apply to join young people from diverse regions across the country in forming the 2018 SFA Steering Committee!
The SC is the main organizing body of the SFA, working throughout the year to build up a vibrant, decentralized network of allies to fuel the CIW’s national Campaign for Fair Food. Each SC member forms part of a dynamic team of highly committed SFA members who work closely together to lift up the Fair Food Program’s highly successful model for transformative change in low-wage corporate supply chains, while tirelessly organizing to bring Fair Food holdouts to the negotiating table with CIW.
Before applying, please carefully review the roles and responsibilities that come with being a member of the SC. Applications are due on Monday, Nov. 20.
The work of bringing the world’s third largest hamburger joint into the CIW's award-winning Fair Food Program is no easy task. As a powerful team, we depend on the work we can all do together. To that end, we strive to build a community of support and accountability among the SC, while creating the food system we envision alongside farmworkers.
Last week, members of the Ohio State Student/Farmworker Alliance kicked off the “Wendy’s, You’re Failing Farmworker Women” national Week of Action, as they joined forces with the CIW Women’s Group to demand an end to sexual violence in the fields — first with a moving delegation to OSU President Drake’s office and later outside of Wendy’s doorstep at the company's national headquarters in Dublin, OH. During the closing rally, OSU student Reyna Lusson sharply declared:
“We are stronger and more determined than ever. We will soon realize a day where farmworkers will no longer have to sacrifice their dignity in order to feed their families.”
Over the course of the week, SFA demonstrated its resolve to stand in solidarity with farmworker women defending the right to work free from sexual harassment and assault, with students at over a dozen schools, from Florida to Vermont, taking part in the national week of action!
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
After a successful debut in Columbus, OH, the CIW’s “Harvest without Violence” mobile museum made its way to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, home of the Tar Heel State, and also home to a (surely soon-to-be booted) Wendy’s restaurant. Over 250 students and faculty toured the pop-up exhibit outside of the Campus Y, including UNC’s own Chancellor Carol Folt.
After an in-depth tour led by CIW’s Nely Rodriguez, Chancellor Folt not only expressed admiration for the Fair Food Program’s impressive track record in eradicating sexual violence and forced labor in U.S. agriculture, but also committed to personally boycott Wendy’s in support of the CIW’s national campaign and begin a conversation around university-level support for human rights and ethical food contracting by removing Wendy’s from UNC.
After learning about Wendy’s unconscionable decision to keep supporting the labor regime of violence and impunity in the Mexican tomato industry, UNC students were ready to take action! Dozens of students — led by Students United for Immigrant Equality, Carolina Advocates for Gender Equity and Student Action with Farmworkers — marched from the Quad to Wendy’s, demanding the fast food holdout be removed from the Graham Student Union as a dining option on their campus!
Continuing their efforts to remove Wendy’s from the Taste of Nashville dining program, students at Vanderbilt University braved the cold outside of Wendy’s to broadcast the many ways in which Wendy’s failed to make the grade when it came to respecting the rights of the women who harvest their produce! Check out their Fair Food assessment!
New College of Florida and Riverview High School
The newest Fair Food Group on the block is Sarasota Fair Food, and to launch their efforts they organized a 90-strong protest at a Wendy's restaurant on busy US 41! Students from New College of Florida and Riverview High School joined forces with community members and the local faith community, including members of the Quaker Meeting, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, and Covenant Presbyterian of America, to host farmworker women, men, and their families and demonstrate in solidarity with Immokalee. The photos speak for themselves!
More students take action!
It does not take a labor law expert to conclude that Wendy’s supplier code of conduct fails to address the epidemic of gender-based violence (although, one already did) in the Mexican agricultural industry, where sexual harassment and assault flourish without any consequence for abusers. Meanwhile, the Fair Food Program’s success in eliminating and preventing gender-based violence has received international recognition, most recently in an extraordinary editorial in the New York Times, which singled out the Program as a national model to end sexual harassment at work.
And while it may be a fool’s errand to search Wendy’s code of conduct for worker input and effective mechanisms for enforcement, the young leaders of the Fair Food Nation will not be fooled by Wendy’s bogus code and its glaring failure to protect the dignity of farmworker women.
Stay tuned for more news and action alerts on the Wendy’s Boycott front, as we build the drumbeat for CIW’s major march to Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz’s NYC offices on Nov. 20. Mark your calendars today to take part in a national call-in day to Mr. Peltz's offices that very same day in solidarity with farmworkers!