Why we are fasting…

Exactly one month from today on March 8th, International Women’s Day, CIW members will be standing in the streets of New York to hold a press conference ahead of next month’s Freedom Fast and Time’s Up Wendy’s March.  To celebrate a day where women around the world stand up to protect their rights, farmworker women from Immokalee will announce why they are planning to give up a week’s worth of work — and five days of food — to advance their struggle to end sexual violence in the fields.

Today, we bring you a preview of their message.  (And, if you have not done so yet, make sure to register for the action and check out all the details on the fast itself over at the Freedom Fast website!)



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Inspired by the unprecedented power of the #MeToo movement, women across the country are searching for long-term, proven solutions to sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.  An answer to this national scourge has emerged from one of the most unlikely corners of society: the farmworker community of Immokalee, Florida.

For generations, farmworker women have endured some of the most hostile working conditions this country has to offer.  Farmworker women have referred to the constant barrage of catcalls, groping, and sexual assault as “our daily bread” in the fields, and in one study, four out of every five farmworker women reported experiencing sexual harassment or violence at work.

But in 2011, after nearly two decades of hard-fought organizing with consumers across the country, farmworker women and men with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) launched the Fair Food Program (FFP) and, within a few short years, put an end to sexual assault and other human rights violations in the $650 million Florida tomato industry.

When asked by CNN to describe the change, one worker said simply, “Our dignity has been restored by this program.”  By harnessing public awareness and the purchasing power of more than a dozen of the world’s largest retail food companies, the FFP has radically transformed working conditions for tens of thousands of farmworkers and has been recognized for its unique success by human rights observers from the White House to the United Nations.  Today, the FFP extends to seven states and three crops, and all the major fast-food companies – McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell, KFC, and Chipotle – are on board.


All except Wendy’s.

For years now, Wendy’s has turned a deaf ear to workers’ and consumers’ calls to join the Fair Food Program.  Worse yet, in response to pressure to join the FFP, Wendy’s abandoned its longtime Florida tomato suppliers altogether and shifted its purchases instead to Mexico, where sexual harassment and assault in the fields are endemic and farmworker women are intimidated into silence by a culture of fear, violence, and corruption.  Rather than do its part to support the leading program for ending sexual violence in corporate supply chains, Wendy’s has chosen to partner with an industry where – despite widespread abuse — its brand will be protected because women there are afraid to complain and are forced into silence.

Today we are breaking that silence.

From March 11-15, farmworkers from Immokalee, together with their consumer allies, are launching the five-day Freedom Fast outside the Manhattan hedge fund offices of Nelson Peltz, Wendy’s largest shareholder and Chair of its Board of Directors.  The Fast will demand that Wendy’s join the rest of the fast-food industry in supporting the Fair Food Program’s groundbreaking worker protections, and will protest the ongoing human rights abuses faced by workers in Mexico’s produce industry where Wendy’s currently buys its tomatoes.  The Freedom Fast will then culminate with a massive march on March 15 in the heart of Manhattan.

The time is up for corporate leaders, like Mr. Peltz, who have the power to end sexual violence against women in their supply chains and yet, do nothing. For market giants like Wendy’s, refusing to take meaningful action to end sexual violence in the supply chain — when a proven solution is right at their fingertips — is no longer an option.