From Immokalee to Columbus, mobilization for Workers’ Voice Tour in full swing as thousands get ready to take action!

Every year, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ spring mobilization draws thousands of people from across the country to celebrate the new day of human rights in the fields and to call on corporate holdouts to join the Fair Food Program.  This year, the five-city Workers’ Voice Tour will bring the message of Fair Food to Wendy’s with marches and concerts, theater pieces and colorful art.  For the past several weeks, CIW members and the Alliance for Fair Food have been hard at work in cities from Miami to NYC, setting up camp at all the major stops of the Workers’ Voice Tour and building alongside countless Fair Food supporters, both old and new. 

Directly from the front lines, we’ve compiled a series of short reports to give you a taste of the on-the-ground work being done ahead of next month’s big tour – all of which would be impossible without the fierce support of the Fair Food Nation. 

Right in our own backyard, dozens of CIW members in Immokalee are packing their bags and getting ready to hop on the bus for the Workers' Voice Tour. Just last week, the CIW’s Central Committee — a body of the organization’s most active members who assemble each season to drive the Campaign for Fair Food — gathered on Valentine’s Day for an in-depth planning meeting for the upcoming Tour. And working closely with the Central Committee, the Immokalee art team is camped out at the CIW Community Center and together with members have been mass-producing beautiful tour artwork. 

Three hours north of Immokalee in Orlando, Florida — a longtime home base for Fair Food — the advance team has undertaken a sweeping tour of all three major colleges and universities in the Orlando area — Rollins College, Stetson University and the University of Central Florida.  One evening alone at Stetson College, 40+ university students settled in to watch the James Beard Award-winning documentary “Food Chains.”

During a post-film discussion with CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo and Daniel Cooper Bermudez, Stetson students shared their shock at Wendy’s unconscionable decision to turn its back not only on farmworkers in the company’s supply chain, but also on the very growers who have been key partners in the transformation of the Florida tomato industry under the Fair Food Program.  Outraged at Wendy’s total withdrawal from the Florida tomato industry, student after student signed up to head to the major action in Palm Beach on March 12.

In the great state of New York, CIW’s Julia de la Cruz and AFF’s Patricia Cipollitti trekked up to the beautiful Stony Point Center in Rockland County, NY, to visit long-time CIW allies of the Hudson River Presbytery.  After learning about maple syrup production and the art of tapping maple trees with the food justice group at Stony Point , the Immokalee team warmed up with a lively presentation and discussion about the remarkable changes brought about under the Fair Food Program, and the rapid expansion of those changes to other crops and states.  Energized by the visit, the group was excited to spread the word about the upcoming Workers’ Voice Tour and hop on the Westchester and Rockland bus heading down to the NYC action on March 3.

Longtime allies in Miami, both old and new, are bringing the heat to Palm Beach on Saturday! This lively community has played an incredibly crucial role in the Campaign for Fair Food (think back to the Burger King days!), and will continue to do so at the finale of the Workers’ Voice Tour. Alongside the advance organizing team, scores of congregations and community groups have already committed to being present in both heart and body, and letting Wendy’s know that three years is three too many. A meeting with the Friends of Miami left allies feeling ready to mobilize and spread the word about the fight for dignity and respect being undertaken by the CIW. 

And of course, we can’t forget about one of the strongest forces in this movement: students. After a day of fruitful presentations at St. Thomas University, and in particular with campus ministries, a group of eager students and faculty have committed themselves to joining the CIW in Palm Beach. 

Over in Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio, the advance team was greeted with open arms — and high spirits — by the indefatigable Ohio Fair Food.  In addition to many late-night meetings around the big action set for March 6 in Columbus, the group has been hard at work creating art, hitting streets with flyers and posters, and getting the word out in the Columbus community. 

In an incredible showing of support, and in vibrant CIW fashion, Columbus Jobs with Justice sent a clear message to Nelson Peltz and Wendy’s — the community of OH will continue to mobilize and call out the fast food giant until they do what’s just, and join the Fair Food Program. 

Columbus wasn’t the only Ohio town to feel the advance team’s warmth.  The CIW’s Santiago Perez, joined by AFF staff, met with the InterReligious Task Force on Central America during its Annual Social Justice Teach-in in Cleveland, Ohio.  Santiago gave a presentation to dozens of Case Western students and community members, many of whom enthusiastically committed to hopping into the IRTF caravan from Cleveland to Columbus.

That’s a wrap… for now!  Stay tuned for more updates in the week ahead for a full list of the national caravans that will be converging on Columbus and Palm Beach in just a few short weeks!