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Students, young people to Wendy’s: “You’re boycotting the Fair Food Program, so we’re going to boycott you!”

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Amidst massive Concert and Parade for Fair Food, Student / Farmworker Alliance declares national Wendy’s boycott!

If you had the pleasure of joining farmworkers from Immokalee for last week’s Parade and Concert for Fair Food, you will remember just what a sweet celebration it was.  The parade was resplendent with flapping golden flags and colorful floats representing the farmworker community, their steadfast consumer allies, and the hard-won rights farmworkers now enjoy in the Florida tomato industry under the Fair Food Program.  Onlookers watched with smiles and cheers as floats rolled by celebrating the New Day in Florida’s fields…  The right to work free of modern-day slavery, sexual harassment, and physical abuse…  The right to have a voice on the job without the fear of being fired…  The right to safe conditions, shade, and drinking water…  The right to a dignified wage.

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Without missing a beat during the event, Fair Food activists pivoted from celebrating these incredible gains to working to protect and expand them.  The streets of St. Petersburg echoed with the call to Publix and Wendy’s to step up to the challenge of real social responsibility and join the Fair Food Program (and as just one of the ripple effects, a new online Wendy’s petition was launched following the action — take a moment to sign on and share the petition if you haven’t already!).  

wendysprotestNo one sent that message to Wendy’s louder than the students and young people who flooded into St. Petersburg for the action.  And when it recently came to light that Wendy’s had decided to stop purchasing altogether from Florida’s tomato fields — from the very industry consumers and human rights observers around the globe are celebrating for its unparalleled advances — that was the final straw.  

So representatives from the Student / Farmworker Alliance (SFA) took the stage at the Concert for Fair Food and, in front of thousands of onlookers, and shared their verdict:  If Wendy’s is going to boycott the Fair Food Program, then students will boycott Wendy’s!

So you can have it in their own words, here below is an excerpt from the letter that SFA sent to Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick a week before the big announcement:

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Mr. Brolick:

In January 2013, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their allies launched a public campaign calling on Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program. Since then, countless farmworkers and Wendy’s customers around the country have delivered letters, attended shareholder meetings, marched to your headquarters, convened press conferences, and called your offices, only to be rebuffed or ignored.

During that same time, two companies — including the world’s largest retailer, Walmart — joined the Fair Food Program.  In total, thirteen corporate produce buyers have committed to help ensure that poverty and abuse are no longer a characteristic of Florida agriculture.

Instead of backing efforts that are eradicating decades-long abuses in the fields, Wendy’s has chosen to evade responsibility time and time again: most recently by shifting tomato purchases outside of Florida.  This will only strengthen the resolve of the CIW and its allies to continue organizing.  By circumventing a proven solution to human rights abuses, your company is choosing exploitation in tomato industries elsewhere rather than actively supporting justice, dignity, and respect for farmworkers.

But we will not waste more time on the disproven excuses and lack of transparency behind your business. Instead, we wish to notify you that, after two years of your empty rhetoric and sidestepping of accountability, the Student/Farmworker Alliance will declare a student boycott of Wendy’s by the end of March 2015…

At the concert, the electrifying declaration drew cheers — and of course, a round of Wendy’s chants — from the many, many young people present, and news of the boycott spread like wildfire in the national press.  The Latin Post was first in line, publishing an excellent recap of the event:

Latin Post

Ozomatli, La Santa Cecilia Rock Out for Farmworkers’ Rights, Students Declare Nationwide Boycott of Wendy’s for Not Joining Fair Food Program

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Student / Farmworker Alliance on stage at the Concert for Fair Food.

You might want to think twice if you’re planning on sinking your teeth into a Wendy’s burger, for its ethics might leave a bad taste in your mouth.

This past weekend, thousands of students from around the country rocked out and rallied together in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Concert for Fair Food. Determined to be heard and get their point across, the Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) also used the stage as their platform to declare a nationwide student boycott of fast-food chain Wendy’s.

The concert, which featured Grammy-winning artists Ozomatli and La Santa Cecilia as well as Son Solidario and Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics, was “the latest development in a two-year campaign calling on Wendy’s to help eliminate farmworker poverty and abuse through the Fair Food Program (FFP).”

“We are proud to be part of the Concert for Fair Food in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the rights they’ve won for farmworkers,” La Santa Cecilia told Latin Post before the Concert for Fair Food. “We honor the dignity of their work in the fields that sustains us all. We hope that our fans will be inspired by the concert to get involved in this beautiful movement and demand that Wendy’s and Publix join the Fair Food Program.”

The highly regarded FFP was reportedly referred to as “the best workplace monitoring system… in the U.S.,” a statement declared on the impressionable front page of the New York Times.

“The student-led boycott will be launched at Ohio State University and will snowball over the coming months as dozens more universities adopt the boycott,” according to an official press release. “The action comes as part of the larger student-led campaign, ‘Boot the Braids,’ which is aimed at ending Wendy’s contractual relationships with universities around the country until the company joins the FFP.”

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“All of Wendy’s fast food competitors have committed to buy only from farms where farmworkers are guaranteed basic human rights, and yet Wendy’s has so far rejected that responsibility,” said Amanda Ferguson, a member of the Student/Farmworker Alliance at the Ohio State University. “Now we’re declaring a nationwide student boycott and we will continue to escalate our efforts until Wendy’s joins the Fair Food Program.” […]

[…] “With ‘Boot the Braids’ and the Wendy’s student boycott, we are reminding Emil Brolick of the power students have in the Campaign for Fair Food,” Ferguson added. “The Concert for Fair Food was not only a celebration of the transformation taking root in the agriculture industry as a result of the Fair Food Program, but also a call to action going out to thousands of students across the country to boycott Wendy’s until they, too, are part of the solution.”  read more

And this is only the beginning for Wendy’s.  As anyone in the Fair Food Nation knows, the fast-food chain will be fighting a losing battle so long as they attempt to evade their responsibility to a generation of young people who deeply value true transparency, ethical business practices, and a verifiable commitment to change.  

Make sure to stay tuned on the Student / Farmworker Alliance’s website for updates on the Wendy’s boycott in the weeks to come.  And in the meantime, make sure you sign the brand-new petition calling on Wendy’s to commit to respecting farmworkers’ human rights!

NEW PETITION: Call on Wendy’s CEO to commit to farmworkers’ human rights!

International online campaign giant Avaaz takes on Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick, slamming fast food chain’s abandonment of Florida tomato industry… With a fresh injection of energy and momentum from last weekend’s huge Concert and Parade for Fair Food, the Wendy’s campaign is taking off!  First, the Student/Farmworker Alliance announced a nationwide student boycott of the fast-food chain (more to come on that soon).  And now, Wendy’s is feeling pressure from a brand new online petition from Avaaz.org, the online social justice community with millions of members worldwide.   Both of these exciting new developments come on the heels of the company’s indefensible decision to actually shift purchases […]

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NEW VIDEO: How much longer, Publix…

Amidst the stunning artwork and irresistible dance music, the Concert and Parade for Fair Food this past Saturday in St. Petersburg had a powerful new message for the food industry: The Fair Food Nation is not only here, but it is here to stay, and it is growing.   Last Saturday, thousands of new Fair Food allies came into the fold, joining the CIW’s celebration of the progress in Florida’s tomato fields under the Fair Food Program — the elimination of forced labor, the unprecedented strides in combatting sexual violence, the freedom to speak up about abuse without fear of retaliation, and much more. In […]

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“Food Chains” nominated for prestigious James Beard Award, hits No. 1 on iTunes on same day!

Hit documentary on Fair Food movement still making waves months after release with sixty screenings scheduled across the country for Farmworker Awareness Week and a great new article on nationalgeographic.com While thousands of Fair Food activists gathered in St. Petersburg this past Saturday for the huge Parade and Concert for Fair Food — be sure to check back soon for more video and news from that unforgettable action, by the way! — the hit documentary “Food Chains” was quietly making its own news, climbing up to No. 1 on the iTunes charts and garnering a nomination for the prestigious 2015 James Beard Award for Special/Documentary.   […]

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Parade and Concert for Fair Food Photo Report: Bouncing by the Bay!

Massive march, music festival lift Campaign for Fair Food higher; Students shock the world with announcement of Wendy’s boycott! The Fair Food Nation gathered in St. Petersburg, Florida, for Saturday’s big Parade and Concert for Fair Food, and a huge dance party for justice broke out on the shores of Tampa Bay!  But before the party could get started, the Fair Food activists, who had gathered from across the country and around the state of Florida, had some business to attend to, the business of marching in the streets of St. Petersburg — one of Florida’s fastest-growing and most sophisticated cities — and taking […]

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What a day… and oh what a night!

  Largest Fair Food march in years, electrifying music festival mark joyous celebration of twenty years of struggle, progress for farmworkers in Florida! From the Tampa Bay Times:   Fair Food demonstration in St. Petersburg, FL Thousands of people paraded through downtown St. Petersburg, along Third Street S, in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Fair Food on Saturday March 21st, 2015. The allies to farmworkers came from all over the country, including Michigan, Massachusetts, and Ohio. The group started at Bartlett Park, and paraded 3 miles to Vinoy Park. The route took participants past Wendy’s and […]

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Twitter blowing up as Fair Food activists make their way to St. Petersburg!

Excitement palpable on the verge of Parade and Concert for Fair Food… March 21st is almost here!  And the Fair Food Nation can hardly contain its excitement.  Since early this morning, when long-planned caravans from across the country struck out for Florida, the Twittersphere has been lighting up with updates from the road.  Thousands from Ohio, Washington DC, Nashville, the Northeast and right here in Florida are rolling into St. Petersburg as we write, armed with artwork and joyful energy. We could not resist sending a few of the highlights from social media as one last missive before tomorrow’s much-anticipated Parade and Concert for Fair Food.  We hope […]

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Are you ready? Parade and Concert for Fair Food just one day away!…

Workers, artists, allies putting final touches on preparations for Saturday’s huge action! The paint on the banners is drying, the artists are flying, and the floats are making their way north to St. Pete from Immokalee, as all the ingredients for the first-ever Parade and Concert for Fair Food are coming together ahead of tomorrow’s big action.  By now you’ve read all the tweets by the bands, and seen the photos of all the allies across the country preparing gorgeous protest art for the parade shared on social media: But today, on the eve of what’s shaping up to be possibly the biggest action […]

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What a buzz! Anticipation for the Parade and Concert for Fair Food is off the charts…

Less than a week out, artists and allies alike counting down for the grand Parade and Concert for Fair Food… Whether you’re hearing about this weekend’s spring action from a CIW member speaking at your church or university, or gathering with your Fair Food Committee to put the final touches on your game plan for getting to St. Petersburg, or skimming the constant chatter on Twitter and Facebook, you can feel it in the air: The Fair Food Nation is buzzing with excitement for this Saturday’s huge Parade and Concert for Fair Food!   In just a few short days, the streets of St. Petersburg will be flooded with beautiful artwork and […]

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Running from Responsibility: Wendy’s flees Florida rather than support Fair Food Program’s human rights advances…

While Fair Food Program farms in Florida continue to raise the bar for human rights in the US agricultural industry, outrageous human rights violations on farms outside the Program continue to fester. Why then has Wendy’s abandoned the Florida tomato industry altogether?  And where are they buying their tomatoes today? Last month, when consumers across the country called on Wendy’s to show farmworkers some love on Valentine’s Day and join the Fair Food Program, many Fair Food activists picked up their phones and called Wendy’s headquarters directly to express their concerns.  What they heard was a bit of a shock, to […]

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La Santa Cecilia: “Straight Outta Olvera Street”…

  If you haven’t met them yet, you need to know our second headliner for next week’s huge Concert for Fair Food! Last week we compiled a quick and dirty music/history brief on Ozomatli for you, a celebration of the inimitable LA-based band that will be headlining next week’s free Concert for Fair Food in St. Petersburg. But Ozomatli will not be headlining the Concert for Fair Food alone.  They will be joined by another Grammy-winning group from LA, the red-hot La Santa Cecilia.  And if you haven’t come across them yet, you are in for a treat! Their official bio captures the remarkable range of musical influences […]

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Help the CIW bring thousands to the Concert & Parade for Fair Food!

Paging the Fair Food Nation:  Help us raise $15,000 for 2015 spring action! 2014 was a big year for the Fair Food Program.  Really big.   The year began with the the signing of the historic Walmart agreement, bringing the world’s largest retailer into the Fair Food fold, and ended with the Fresh Market agreement, bringing the total number of participating buyers to thirteen and the total sales represented by those buyers to nearly one trillion dollars.   The Fair Food Program itself entered its fourth season in operation across more than 90% of the Florida tomato industry and began the […]

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Ozomatli, in their own words…

  The Concert for Fair Food headliners talk about their history, their views on music as a vehicle for social change, their love of live performance, and more! Earlier this week we announced the spectacular lineup for the upcoming Concert for Fair Food, a bill headlined by the two-time Grammy Award-winning band Ozomatli.  At that time we provided a quick thumbnail sketch of the band’s unique history and eclectic musical style, and promised to fill in the gaps in our profile of the LA-based group in the days ahead. And so today we are taking a closer look at Ozomatli (a […]

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Grammy-winners Ozomatli, La Santa Cecilia to headline CIW’s Concert for Fair Food!

Grammy Award-winning artists/longtime social activists set to perform at March 21st concert… In 1995, an unknown farmworker organization by the inelegant name of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers exploded onto the scene with a community-wide general strike in Immokalee, Florida.  Taking over the central parking lot in town where workers would gather before dawn in search of day labor (below, right), thousands of farmworkers came together to disrupt decades of farmworker poverty and abuse and to launch a call for “Dignity, Dialogue, and a Fair Wage.”  The struggle born that day would eventually give rise to the Campaign for Fair Food in 2001, and […]

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Bits and pieces from the Fair Food front as preparations ramp up for next month’s big action!

As we round the bend into the final month of preparations before the Parade and Concert for Fair Food, farmworkers in Immokalee and their allies around the county are keeping the pressure up in the fight for fundamental human rights in the fields!  Here below is a quick round-up of the latest news from the Fair Food front, just enough to hold you over until next week’s big reveal of the lineup of award-winning artists for the March 21 concert. Food Chains still making waves… Though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose a different film to receive the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature this […]

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Wendy’s gets no love from the #FairFoodNation on Valentine’s Day…

Fair Food activists flood Wendy’s with broken-hearted selfies, calls to join the Fair Food Program! Last month, the Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) launched a call for a national Valentine’s Day Weekend of Action, demanding that Wendy’s, the final fast-food hold-out, join the award-winning Fair Food Program.  And last weekend, hundreds of members of the exciting new Alliance took the call to action to heart.  From Denver to DC, regional Fair Food Committees broke out the art supplies and unleashed their boundless creativity to make their voices heard inside Wendy’s corporate headquarters once again. The AFF did a wonderful job of compiling all the weekend’s action, and you can […]

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