“Mr. Brolick, we are here to invite you to finish what you helped start…”

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750+ march on Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, as Now Is the Time Tour lets Wendy’s know Ohio is Fair Food Territory! 

On a bracingly cold but brilliant day in Dublin, Ohio, over 750 marchers — including farmworkers from Immokalee, allies from around the northeast and midwest, and, most importantly, hundreds of Ohioans — declared Ohio a Fair Food state with an epic march on Wendy’s corporate headquarters that won the hearts of the people of Dublin with its irrepressible exuberance, remarkable diversity, and urgent message of justice.   

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Rippling with colorful art, the march wound its way through Dublin’s streets, passing through neighborhoods…

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… open by-ways,… 

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… and the city’s historic downtown…

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… on its way to Wendy’ headquarters.  No marcher was left behind on the three-mile path, as those who tired found support among the ranks…

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… demonstrating the kind of spirit and commitment to justice that is typical of CIW marchers, and that was loudly appreciated by dozens of Dublin motorists along the way:

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The art that gave the march life and conveyed its message to Dublin’s onlookers was especially transcendent on this day, and so deserves its own mini-gallery.  Enjoy as the next few pictures come without commentary, since they speak perfectly well for themselves:

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Spirits soared as the march arrived at its destination…

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… to a rally held in the shadow of Wendy’s corporate headquarters and just feet from the company’s flagship restaurant (pictured here below, a store  many may remember from an earlier Ohio Fair Food protest on the occasion of its grand opening!):

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The rally was a mix of music, CIW theater, and rousing messages from student, faith, and community allies that left no doubt whatsoever that Ohio had joined the battle to bring Wendy’s into the 21st century, into the Fair Food Program.  

Speaking of the Fair Food Program, the CIW theater troupe reprised its new piece, entitled “Lo Bueno… y Lo Horrible,” for the Dublin rally, providing those gathered with an unforgettable framework for understanding the stark differences between the humane working conditions on Fair Food Program farms and those found on farms outside the program.  Here, below, actors play out some of the changes taking place in the fields today, including shade (though individual umbrellas are not in fact a requirement of the Fair Food Code of Conduct…) and sufficient drinking water:

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The play brought smiles to the faces of all those gathered, and even bigger smiles to CIW members who, though they have watched the play many times before, never tire of seeing the gains made under the program made plain as they are in the compelling piece of popular theater:

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The play also touched on the role that companies like Wendy’s play in encouraging the shameful conditions of the past and prolonging farmworker poverty.  Here, below, Wendy’s visits a field outside the Fair Food Program, the hamburger giant’s high volume purchasing power promising the hope of fairer wages if only it were to agree to pay the penny-per-pound Fair Food Premium…

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… then cruelly denying that hope and coldly turning its back on the injustices in its supply chain…

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The play set the stage for the speeches that would follow.  Highlights included a presentation by several members of the national Student/Farmworker Alliance network (below) who announced their new “Boot the Braids” initiative to demand Fair Food from their campus administrations:

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Also a highlight was a truly moving address by the Rev. April Blaine (pictured below), lead pastor of the Summit United Methodist Church in Columbus, the church that graciously hosted the marchers and served as our home away from home in Ohio.  She congratulated the CIW for waking consumers to the unacceptable labor conditions behind the food they eat and for never wavering in demanding the full respect and dignity farmworkers deserve for the work they do:

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The closing words of the rally went to the Rev. Noelle Damico (below) of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative.  Rev. Damico has been with the Campaign for Fair Food since its early days in the Taco Bell Boycott and was involved in the talks that helped bring about the first-ever Fair Food agreement with Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum Brands (that agreement was announced nine years ago this month, in March 2005, in Louisville, KY, which happens to be our next stop on the Tour!).  

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Rev. Damico provided the headline of this post when she challenged Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick, who was Taco Bell’s CEO when that first agreement was signed, declaring in the name of all the marchers on this most beautiful day in Ohio, “Mr. Emil Brolick, we are here to invite you to finish what you helped start!”

The CIW tour crew thanks all the wonderful people of Columbus and Dublin — and especially the awesome (in the true meaning of that word) members of Ohio Fair Food — for their support, encouragement, and extraordinary effort in making the March on Wendy’s such a remarkable success.  With yesterday’s march, Ohio has already staked its claim to a place among the landmark actions in the storied annals of Campaign for Fair Food protests, and we know that this was only the beginning of a long road we will travel together to bring Wendy’s — and Ohio-based Kroger — into the light of the New Day for farmworkers dawning in Florida.

And now we, too, must finish what we have started and depart Ohio for Louisville, Kentucky, where tonight we gather with old friends from where it all began at the next stop on the Now Is the Time Tour!

 

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