2016 Year in Review: A look back at the work that moved us

As allies and believers in the Fair Food movement, we can help ensure the sustainability and viability of the Fair Food Program and the Campaign for Fair Food on which it rests — because of this, we are calling on you to become a Fair Food Sustainer today and support us in building an even stronger movement for justice in the fields in 2017. 

When we entered 2016 twelve months ago, we didn’t leave behind the old — we carried forward a history over two decades-long of CIW farmworker leadership, and another nearly as long of ally dedication and commitment into the new year.

Twelve months later, we stand another year older and another year wiser, having learned from our challenges and losses, but never once putting those above our gains — and indeed, we had many gains. We spent the year working shoulder-to-shoulder with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, building a world in which workers’ rights are respected, in which consumers see themselves as critical agents in the U.S. agriculture and food systems, and in which human rights are implemented rigorously. It’s because of people like you, allies new and old who continue to act following the leadership of farmworkers, that we can say that the New Day is here to stay.

Take a moment to reflect on the incredible year we have had, and how your contribution to sustain this work can continue to make this all possible:

CIW announces the Workers’ Voice Tour, thousands prepare for 2016’s major spring mobilization
2016 started off with a bang as Immokalee farmworkers announced a major five-city, 10-day national Workers Voice Tour, inviting farmworkers, people of faith, students, grassroots organizations, fellow workers, and consumers of conscience to take action — all to amplify the Fair Food Nation’s call urging Wendy’s and its leadership to finally join the Fair Food Program!

CIW launches the Campaign for Fair Food’s second-ever boycott as the Workers’ Voice Tour kicks off
The Workers’ Voice Tour packed a punch in what had been, at that point, a 3-year long Wendy’s campaign when nearly 500 farmworkers and NYC residents marched to the offices of Wendy’s Board Chairman and major shareholder Nelson Peltz on the tour’s first major stop. The march followed a momentous announcement: for the second time in the Campaign for Fair Food’s 15-year history, the CIW announced a national boycott of a corporate holdout! The brand new Wendy’s Boycott reached tens of thousands of consumers as thousands of allies took to the streets in the following city stops, committing themselves and their communities to building a strong movement for human rights in Wendy’s supply chain.

News breaks of Wendy’s shameful supply chain practices, and “Month of Outrage” spreads in response
In April, Harper’s Magazine revealed a key Wendy’s tomato supplier in Mexico to be none other than Bioparques del Occidente — a producer that, in 2013, was the subject of a massive slavery prosecution by the Mexican government. The news sparked outrage in people of conscience across the Fair Food Nation, strengthening allies’ resolve to boycott the fast food giant. The action-packed “Month of Outrage” spread the news and the call to boycott from coast to coast, following scores of high-spirited pickets and letter deliveries at Wendy’s locations across the country.

Fair Food Nation puts faith into action to bring Wendy’s to the table
As some of the first-ever supporters of the CIW, communities of faith drew from their own traditions to mobilize in force during the lead-up to the annual Wendy’s Shareholder Meeting. From the boycott endorsement letter signed by 300+ rabbis and delivered personally by leaders from T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights to the Manhattan offices of Nelson Peltz; to the National Day of Prayer anchored by institutions such as the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and National Farm Worker Ministry; to the poignant letter penned to outgoing Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick, Nelson Peltz, by nearly two dozen religious leaders from more than 12 faith traditions, the call for true justice from Wendy’s rang loud and clear across the country.

Farmworkers and allies take action at Wendy's Annual Shareholder Meeting
Nearly 100 farmworkers and allies from Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, OH descended upon Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting to take the boycott straight to the fast food retailer’s corporate leadership. Standing their ground with an unshakeable presence, CIW farmworker Silvia Perez, Ohio State University student Amanda Ferguson, and T’ruah leader Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster entered the heart of Wendy’s operations in order to confront company leadership and demand that they become part of the solution to farmworker exploitation. Between powerful statements delivered directly to executives inside and the resounding protest outside, the Fair Food Nation took a step closer to bringing Wendy’s to the table!

CIW heads north to bring “Know Your Rights” education to thousands of workers laboring in the summer harvest
The Fair Food Program expansion into new crops and states is now a fierce reality. In June and July, CIW farmworker leaders made their way up north for the second summer in a row to conduct “Know Your Rights” trainings with farmworkers who, previously, only enjoyed the “new day” of human rights during the winter season on participating Florida farms. Around 2,000 workers joined tens of thousands of Florida workers in the Fair Food Program, receiving worker-to-worker education as they reflected on their experiences in the fields and came face-to-face with the unprecedented protections and responsibilities created by the new day.

Boycott Wendy’s petition goes viral on Change.org , garners 75k signatures (and counting!)
Nearly six months since the announcement of the historic Wendy’s Boycott, Change.org — one of the giants of online social justice with over 100 million petition starters and supporters in more than 196 countries — turned its spotlight on Wendy’s! The petition went viral with swelling numbers of consumers who signed and committed to boycotting the hamburger giant until they join the CIW’s Fair Food Program. Today, the online petition boasts  over 75,000 signatures from supporters coast to coast. Make sure to sign and share the petition if you haven’t already!

Allies from across the network gather for first-ever Wendy’s Boycott Summit in Immokalee, kickstart campaign organizing for the season ahead
Nearly 90 allies from our vibrant national AFF network of people of faith, students, youth, food justice advocates, and grassroots organizations came together in Immokalee for a successful first-ever Wendy’s Boycott Summit. Hailing from nearly twenty different states and from dozens of high schools, universities, congregations, and community organizations from coast to coast, participants gathered in the heart of the movement for Fair Food to develop skills, build relationships, and, most importantly, forge a winning strategy for victory in the Wendy’s Boycott.

Behind the Braids tours take nearly two dozen cities by storm, Wendy’s issues most direct public response to CIW yet
Throughout the fall, CIW farmworker leaders and allies from Immokalee packed their bags to join thousands of allies for powerful Wendy’s Boycott actions and educational events. Wendy’s, taken aback by the renewed wave of campaign pressure, issued its most direct public response to the CIW in the four years of the Wendy’s campaign — a response rife with half-truths, and outright fabrications that the CIW breaks down point by point on its website. From the Southeast all the way to cities in the Midwest, Northeast, Texas, and Mid-Atlantic regions, consciousness of the truth behind Wendy’s empty code of conduct generated a whirlwind of action, all with resounding message for Wendy’s: Consumers will continue to boycott your restaurants, until you join the Fair Food Program!

Return to Human Rights tour announced for spring of 2017
Wrapping up a year of nonstop action, and looking to make the boycott even bigger, even more powerful, and finally victorious in the year ahead, a few weeks ago the CIW announced 2017’s major spring mobilization: The Return to Human Rights Tour! In the tradition of the Taco Bell Truth Tours that successfully mobilized tens of thousands of consumers toward victory in the Campaign for Fair Food’s historic Taco Bell Boycott, farmworkers from Immokalee plan to join countless allies on tour next March. In the last weeks of 2016, plans are already underway to take the boycott deep into Wendy’s territory throughout the Midwest and the Southeast, culminating with a major action in Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio and finishing strong with a powerful concluding vigil in Tampa — stopping in nearly a dozen cities over the 13-day journey, including Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and more.

Powerful and influential institutions, organizations, and individuals officially endorse the Wendy’s Boycott
Since the launch of the Wendy’s Boycott back in March, a vast representation of religious, student, food justice, human rights, and grassroots supporters have lent their weight by officially endorsing the boycott. By endorsing, longstanding and new partners alike pronounce their determination to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the CIW in the continuing boycott of the final fast food holdout. The full and growing list can be found on the Wendy’s Boycott website, and includes institutions such as the National Council of Churches, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Assembly, and the National Farmworker Ministry.