In a brilliant beginning to the #SchoolingWendys National Week of Action, hundreds of people of faith, students, and community members have already taken to the streets, classrooms, pews and Twitterverse to further amplify the ever-growing call to Wendy’s: Respect farmworkers’ rights and join the Fair Food Program!
The Week of Action kicked off with power and liveliness in Orlando this Monday, as members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, dozens of young people from the Youth and Young Adult Network of the National Farmworker Ministry, congregants of the University Unitarian Universalist Society, students from University of Central Florida, and members of the Orlando community came together for a peaceful picket with art and song.
And on the online front, our friends at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee have been spreading the message of Fair Food to their wide-reaching network. In a memo sent to thousands, they wrote about the Fair Food Program: “While this worker- and market-driven strategy has been a runaway success, holdouts like Wendy's refuse to take responsibility for just working conditions in an industry long plagued by abuse. … By refusing to sign onto the Fair Food Program, Wendy's is creating a market for tomatoes not certified as "fair" and is failing to help transform an industry.” So far, dozens of UUSC members have taken online action and pledged to join actions happening in their local communities.
And Wednesday night at the University of Texas–Austin, dozens of students marched from one on-campus Wendy’s location to the other — two of the highest-grossing Wendy’s in Texas — to declare a student boycott of these restaurants and a campaign to “Boot the Braids” and terminate the university’s contract with the two Wendy’s locations. The announcement comes on the heels of commitments from dozens of students at Georgetown to join the student boycott in Washington, DC.
These forms of public witness are all accompanied by an air of formidable dedication; many of those taking action have been working in solidarity with the CIW for years, many are just getting involved, and all carry a commitment to farmworker justice that, at the leadership of the CIW, has brought 14 major food corporations to the table — and that will surely bring Wendy’s to the table, too.
It is this steady commitment that birthed this Week of Action: For years, the Fair Food Nation has been calling on Wendy’s to join with the CIW as they transform working conditions in tomato fields in Florida, and as of this summer, up the Eastern seaboard. The past few seasons have seen the utter metamorphosis of deeply-entrenched abusive conditions to a new day of human rights for farmworkers: zero tolerance for sexual harassment; zero tolerance for modern-day slavery; access to shade, water and bathrooms; increased wages; the right to speak up without fear of retribution.
How long can Wendy’s continue their unconscionable refusal to join the proven solution to farmworker exploitation?
Until Wendy’s does right by farmworkers, the call for them to join the Fair Food Program will reverberate in dozens of cities across the country as this week unfolds — and it will only continue to grow.