2014 Year in Review: Building a new day of human rights in the fields

It has been an extraordinary year for the Campaign for Fair Food, with unprecedented gains underway towards justice and dignity for farmworkers building a new day in the fields. 

But, there is much work still left to be done, as Wendy’s. Publix and other corporate holdouts still refuse to join the Fair Food Program to respect the rights of farmworkers in their supply chain. 

Please chip in to support Student/Farmworker Alliance in continuing the struggle for dignity in the fields! 

Here is a look at the incredible work we’ve done together in 2014: 

In January, in a packing shed outside of Immokalee, the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, sat down with farmworkers of the CIW to sign an agreement to join the Fair Food Program. The agreement set the stage for the fulfillment of a vision crafted by farmworkers years before: the expansion of the Fair Food Program into other crops and states beginning in the next year, which will ensure new rights for tens of thousands more farmworkers. 

In March, the CIW and the AFF took off on the 10-day, 10-city “Now is the Time” tour across the Southeast to pressure both Wendy’s and Publix to join the Fair Food Program. The journey included 50 farmworkers and their families from Immokalee who joined with hundreds of allies in stops across the country, anchored by an 800+ strong march to Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, OH and a 24-hour vigil outside a Publix store in Lakeland, FL, culminating in 1000+ taking to the streets to march to downtown for the tour’s finale.

In April, the feature-length documentary Food Chains, featuring the struggle and success of the CIW, premiered to raving audiences at the Tribeca Film Festival, setting the stage for a successful theatrical release in the fall. That same weekend, the Fair Food Program was profiled on the front page of the New York Times, where it was called “the best workplace monitoring program” in the United States.

May brought Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting at their headquarters in Dublin, OH, where a CIW member and student and faith allies spoke directly to executives about the urgent need for them to join the Fair Food Program.  A student from the Ohio State University asked Wendy's CEO, Emil Brolick, directly whether he was "willing...to risk the company's reputation and brand among young people" rather than join the Fair Food Program? She was met with silence. Still, the message inside the meeting was amplified by an action led by Ohio Fair Food outside the HQ and a national call-in day that left Wendy’s phone lines buzzing off the hook; meanwhile, 20 religious leaders published a letter to board chair Emil Brolick while over 40 T’ruah tomato rabbis published one of their own. 

September marked our annual Encuentro, an in-depth weekend of strategizing, relationship-building, reflection, and action to prepare for the season of action to come.  This year, over sixty students and young people dove deep into "Boot the Braids," planning for a continued escalation of the campaign to cut Wendy’s contracts with universities across the country. 

In October, the CIW launched the long-awaited Fair Food Program label, the product of two decades of farmworker organizing in Florida and over a decade of consumers mobilizing alongside CIW across the country. The label is now being displayed at Whole Foods stores across the Southeast and will soon be rolled out at Compass Group cafeterias and other Fair Food Program participating retailers in the future. 

November marked the launch of the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF), a response to the outpouring of new involvement in the campaign that builds on our greatest strengths as a network. The launch coincided with the national release of Food Chains, a smash hit at the box office and in the streets as it premiered in cities across the country. With sold out screenings from Tampa to New York to San Francisco, thousands took in the big screen story of resistance and transformative change, spilling from the theaters and heading straight to the doorsteps of Fair Food holdouts Publix and Wendy’s.

As we continue building on the historic human rights gains before us, please consider becoming a sustainer of this work or increasing your current contribution. Our work together, called “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” in the Washington Post, depends on the contributions of individuals. Each year, your support allow us to sustain our collective work and to continue to build toward our shared vision of dignity and respect for the people who harvest this country's food.