Part One: Young people and community leaders from coast to coast take to the streets as part of SFA’s “Pulling Back the Curtain on Wendy’s” National Week of Action!
With midterm season wrapping up, the young leaders of the Fair Food Nation have been hard at work inside the classroom – and in the streets! While SFAers in over a dozen cities prepared direct actions to unveil Wendy’s disdain for farmworkers’ human rights, the fast-food chain coincidentally launched a $1 French fry deal, targeted at college students and young people. Nervous much, Wendy’s?
But Wendy’s desperate PR distractions are not fooling anyone! Last week, as part of SFA’s “Pulling Back the Curtain on Wendy’s” National Week of Action, hundreds of students and community allies — from California to New York — organized creative actions, teach-ins, and delegations, turning a spotlight on what Wendy’s is spending millions of dollars to hide from consumers: the company’s utter failure to protect farmworkers in its supply chain from sexual assault and forced labor.
Today, we’re bringing you Part One of photos and reports gathered from SFA organizers across the country. Let’s jump right in!
Members of CHISPAS at the University of Florida kicked off their “Boot the Braids” Week of Action with an attention-grabbing tomato bucket display at the Plaza of the Americas, one of the university’s central gathering locations. The CIW’s classic pyramid display, which has graced countless university campuses since the days of the Taco Bell Boycott, is a powerful organizing tool for drawing attention to the grueling labor and poverty behind the food we eat.
After learning about the Fair Food movement to bring dignity to the fields, it didn’t take long for students to get riled up about UF’s refusal to cut Wendy’s from its list of dining options on campus! After a week of showcasing the display on campus courtyards and back-to-back presentations by CIW’s own Leonel Perez in more than 20 classrooms, over 400 Gators learned of the “Boot the Braids” campaign and how they could play a role in bringing Wendy’s into the Fair Food Program once and for all!
New York, NY
On Saturday, NYU Food and Racial Equity (FARE) Collective teamed up with NYC Industrial Workers of the World for a nighttime march for farmworker justice in the Big Apple. Presente among the crowd was CIW’s own Gerardo Reyes Chavez, who had been lecturing in the halls of NYU up until moments before the march took off. Despite the rain and cold, the joyful crew turned up the heat on Wendy’s in New York City to send the message that consumers will continue boycotting Wendy’s until the company does right by farmworkers and joins the Fair Food Program.
In Texas, University of Houston students and the Houston Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Eco-Socialist Working Group led a picket in solidarity with the CIW on Saturday, calling out Wendy’s refusal to end generational poverty, abuse and sexual violence in the fields!
Members of the CIW, students from Florida International University, and Miami-area allies packed the week with nonstop actions and events! On Monday, Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) hosted a teach-in at FIU, educating the campus community on the award-winning Fair Food Program. In their discussion, titled "Is Your Food Fair?", students heard from Lucas Benitez, CIW co-founder, about the incredible history of the movement for farmworker justice in Immokalee and how the Fair Food Program has immeasurably changed the lives of tens of thousands of farmworkers.
On Saturday, students organized a lively protest outside of the Wendy’s on the busy 107th Avenue. CIW’s Oscar Otzoy, Dream Defenders, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) - South Dade, People Acting for Community Together (PACT), Black Lives Matter Alliance - Broward, and American Postal Workers Union added their voices to the mix! A Fair Food delegation successfully delivered a letter to the manager who agreed to pass on the letter to higher-ups.
As the delegation gave a report to the crowd outside, Oscar shared, “I believe there is no better program for Wendy’s to join than the Fair Food Program, which has returned to workers’ their voices, which all workers need in their industry… We know that one day, change will happen, because a corporation’s resistance cannot last a century.”
Brown University Student/Farmworker Alliance and Providence community members also rallied in the pouring rain outside of a local Wendy’s on Charles St on Saturday afternoon. The high-energy picket was bright and loud despite the heavy rain, drawing out supportive honks during the power hour. At the action, SFA leader and Brown student Alexis Roman, shared a few words of motivation in support of farmworkers’ voices in the Fair Food movement: “These are the women that bring us our food, these are the people that we get our energy from. Anything that we eat, that we digest is from their hands, so it’s just giving back that love that they give to us.”
On Tuesday, the CIW’s traveling Harvest without Violence Exhibit arrived at Georgetown University, co-hosted by the Kalmanovitz Initiative for the Working Poor and DC Fair Food. CIW's Silvia Perez and Silvia Sabanilla gave back-to-back tours throughout the windy fall day in Georgetown's Red Square at the heart of the campus, reaching over 200+ students! The next day, students at George Washington University with Green GW and the GrOW Community Garden screened the James Beard Award-winning documentary “Food Chains,” — and signed up dozens of students to join the national Wendy’s Boycott.
DC Fair Food wrapped up the week of action with a vibrant march to the Petworth Wendy’s. Like their friends in NYC and Providence, the crowd kept spirits high as ever as they marched through the pouring rain. ¡Ni lluvia, ni viento, detendrá este movimiento!
Fort Myers, FL
Down in Southwest Florida, the SFA chapter at Florida Gulf Coast University teamed up with members of the CIW for a spirited Boycott Wendy’s action in Estero on Saturday morning after a jam-packed week of nonstop tabling, flyering and presentations on FGCU’s campus. This short clip perfectly captures the fun energy of the sunny protest!
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson, a longtime ally and staff member of T’ruah, held two teach-ins at The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and Hebrew Union College in conjunction with the national Week of Action. Rabbinical students learned more about the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food and the role they play in advancing human rights for farmworkers as consumers, scholars, and Jewish allies.
After hosting an art-making party to raise awareness about the Wendy’s Boycott, Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University students crashed Wendy’s Tailgate Tour during the Clemson v. FSU game on Saturday! From the top level of the Wendy’s RV, students grabbed the crowd’s attention with “Boycott Wendy’s!” chants and colorful signs.
Stony Point, NY
Our dear friends of the vibrant Stony Point Center also joined in on the action with a colorful delegation and picket at the local Wendy’s in Rockland County!
A small but mighty group of allies with Tampa Bay IWW, Tampa Bay DSA, and the Tampa Religious Society of Friends, assembled outside of the Wendy's on Tampa’s Florida Ave for a Boycott Wendy’s action and successful delegation to the manager on Sunday! Tampa Bay Fair Food member Roger Butterfield shared: “Right now, the Fair Food Program has virtually eliminated sexual violence in the fields… There’s been only one case of physical contact with sexual harassment in the past six years, versus an 80% rate of harassment [on farms outside the Fair Food Program].”
On Thursday, members of the Labor Religion Coalition of the Finger Lakes dropped off a manager letter as well as 320 petition signatures local community members who had recently joined the national Wendy’s Boycott!
That’s all for now! Stay tuned for Part Two of the action report coming soon…