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:
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.
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.”