PRESS

COVERAGE OF WEEKLONG FAST

“The pain and power of fasting are familiar to us, and we know from experience that it is no small sacrifice. Right now there is always an empty seat at our table for Wendy’s to come sit with us.”
- Santiago Perez, CIW


City by city coverage of tour

PREVIEWS: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

UNC groups plan march against Wendy’s for farmworker rightsThe Daily Tar Heel (23 March 2017)

HIGHLIGHTS: Madison, Wisconsin

Protesters target downtown Madison Wendy's over farm labor issuesThe Cap Times  (21 March 2017)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Minneapolis, Minnesota

Farm workers call for human rights at Wendy’s restaurants, Workday Minnesota (20 March 2017)

Farm workers bring campaign to Twin CitiesWorkday Minnesota (16 March 2017)

HIGHLIGHTS: Gainesville, Florida

Wendy’s protest spans UF campus, The Independent Florida Alligator (17 March 2017)

Wendy's BoycottGainesville Sun (16 March 2017)

Alan Alvarez for The Independent Florida Alligator

Alan Alvarez for The Independent Florida Alligator

PREVIEWS: Tampa, Florida

Still hungry for human rights, Immokalee Workers' Return to Human Rights Tour stops in Tampa WednesdayCreative Loafing Tampa (23 March 2017)

MidPoint Monday March 27: Coalition of Immokalee WorkersWMNF (22 March 2017)

HIGHLIGHTS: Nashville, Tennessee
But, how are colleges extra powerful? ... If universities publicly cut ties with companies because they stand for conflicting values which strip people of their human rights, they land a huge blow on the company image.
- Ania Szczesniewski, Vanderbilt University

press release

Lupe Gonzalo

Coalition of Immokalee Workers

patricia@allianceforfairfood.org

(239) 675-1131

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Hundreds of farmworkers, consumer allies converge in Columbus for major vigil and parade to support 19 OSU student fasters, escalate national Wendy’s Boycott

Weeklong student fast demanding OSU cut contract with fast-food giant in support of farmworkers’ call for Wendy’s to join award-winning Fair Food Program approaches conclusion as hundreds mobilize for Friday vigil at Wendy’s Dublin headquarters, massive Sunday Parade for Human Rights through downtown Columbus

Columbus, OH – On Friday, March 24 at 4:00pm, scores of farmworkers and consumer allies from across the country will hold a vigil outside Wendy’s corporate headquarters in Dublin, OH (at the corner of W Dublin Granville Rd. and Dale Dr.) to kick off a major weekend of mobilization intensifying the national boycott of Wendy’s launched by farmworkers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) a year ago in response to the food retailer’s steadfast refusal to join the CIW’s internationally-recognized Fair Food Program (FFP) to protect farmworkers’ human rights in the retailer’s supply chain. The weekend will conclude with a massive, several hundreds-strong Parade for Human Rights on Sunday, March 26 starting at 2:00pm at Goodale Park in Columbus (120 W Goodale St.) and ending at the South Oval inside the campus of The Ohio State University. Both Friday’s vigil and Sunday’s parade will highlight the weeklong fast undertaken by 19 students at the Ohio State University to escalate their demand that OSU cut its contract with the Wendy’s restaurant on campus in support of the national Wendy’s Boycott. The fast, begun this past Monday, will finalize with a fast-breaking ceremony at the conclusion of Sunday’s parade.

Friday’s vigil will feature high-profile religious leaders including Julie Taylor, Executive Director of National Farmworker Ministry. Sunday’s Parade for Human Rights will be attended by dozens of local and national human rights organizations, including the Central Ohio Labor Council, People’s Justice Project, and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. The parade is the highlight of the CIW’s 2,000 mile, 12-city Return to Human Rights Tour, mobilizing thousands of consumers for the Wendy’s Boycott.

Friday, March 24: Vigil for Human Rights at 4:00pm, outside of Wendy’s corporate headquarters in Dublin, OH at the corner of W Dublin Granville Rd. and Dale Dr.

Sunday, March 26: Massive Parade for Human Rights at 2:00pm, starting at Goodale Park in Columbus, OH (120 W Goodale St.) and ending at the South Oval inside the campus of The Ohio State University with a rally and fast-breaking ceremony

The Return to Human Rights Tour marks mark one year since the national boycott was launched, a year during which tens of thousands of consumers pledged to boycott Wendy’s over the company’s unconscionable resistance to joining the Fair Food Program – in which all of Wendy’s major fast food competitors, including McDonald’s and Burger King, are participating. In 2015, the Fair Food Program received a Presidential Medal for its “extraordinary efforts in combatting human trafficking” and other human rights abuses in corporate supply chains. Late last year, the United Nations called the FFP 'an international benchmark' for human rights protection, while Fordham law professor and international labor law expert James Brudney called the FFP “substantially more successful than other corporate compliance programmes” in a new textbook on business and human rights.

The CIW launched the national boycott of Wendy’s in 2016 after the company shifted its purchases from Florida to Mexico following the implementation of the FFP.  Rather than support US growers setting new standards for human rights in the agricultural industry, Wendy’s took its tomato purchases to an industry where wage theft, sexual violence, modern-day slavery and other human rights abuses have been widely reported.  In an October 2016 statement, Wendy’s responded to concerns about human rights abuse in their supply chain:  “We are quite happy with the quality and taste of the tomatoes we are sourcing from Mexico.”

In a statement, OSU student faster Alex Hoey declared: “We are fasting in solidarity with farmworkers, many of whom have had to go hungry while harvesting the food we all eat because of Wendy’s indifference to their exploitation. Wendy’s has a fundamental responsibility to listen to the farmworkers who make their profits possible, and to listen to their own neighbors here in Columbus. To ensure human rights for farmworkers, Wendy’s must join the Fair Food Program."

In a statement, CIW’s Santiago Perez responded to the news of the upcoming fast:  “As farmworkers, we are humbled by the support of students at OSU who are taking this extraordinary step of solidarity to bring their demand for justice directly to Wendy’s doorstep. The pain and power of fasting are familiar to us, and we know from experience that it is no small sacrifice. We are honored to stand with students and members of the Columbus community as they embark on this courageous protest.”

CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo added, “As the women and men who harvest tomatoes for multi-billion dollar corporations like Wendy’s, we believe ‘quality’ is not simply measured by the taste of a piece of fruit, but also by the guarantee of dignity and fundamental human rights for those of us who pick it.  A hollow code of conduct and superficial audits that do not include worker participation and meaningful enforcement cannot possibly achieve real protection of workers’ human rights. The Fair Food Program, driven by workers and rooted in partnership with participating retailers and growers, is a proven success model.  It is high time that Wendy's return to Florida and its longtime Florida-based suppliers, return to the highest human rights standards in the produce industry today, and join its fast-food competitors in supporting the Fair Food Program. As we embark on the Return to Human Rights Tour, we will also carry the call for human rights of all people, in an age when those rights are facing grave dangers.  We join millions of others across this country in declaring that we will not slide backwards into the darker corners of our history, but rather will continue to march toward the horizon.”

About the Fair Food Program:  The Fair Food Program is a groundbreaking partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers, and fourteen major food retailers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Walmart, heralded as “the best workplace-monitoring program” in the US on the front page of the New York Times.  Participating retailers agree to purchase exclusively from suppliers who meet a worker-driven Code of Conduct, which includes a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment.  Retailers also pay a “penny-per-pound” premium, which is passed down through the supply chain and paid out directly to workers by their employers. Since the Program’s inception in 2011, buyers have paid over $23 million into the FFP.   In 2015, the Program expanded for the first time beyond Florida to tomato fields in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and New Jersey, and in the 2015-2016 season, the Fair Food Program expanded to two new Florida crops, strawberries and bell peppers. 

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