Fair Food Nation brings summer heat to Wendy’s!

Carmen Esquivel, CIW: “For us, one cent more is another spoonful of food in the pot to be able to feed our families.” Fox 4 TV


Wendy’s Week of Action takes off with high energy actions across the country!…

Consumers and farmworkers across the country officially launched the Wendy’s Week of Action with three phenomenal protests on Saturday, August 3rd, with representation from all corners of the Fair Food Nation. Now, as you enjoy the upbeat photos, don’t forget that you can still participate! Check out the Wendy’s page for the full list of actions. For now, here are highlights from the first day…

IMG_2127The Presbyterian Church (USA) kicked off the weekend in Louisville, KY with a spirited picket of over 50 people. With their headquarters just around the corner from the headquarters of Yum! Brands, Taco Bell’s parent company, the PC(USA) is certainly no stranger to calling for Fair Food in Louisville.  Indeed, the PC(USA)’s support was invaluable in the four-year long fight to win that seminal agreement with Taco Bell back in the day, the agreement that laid the groundwork for today’s unprecedented advances under the Fair Food Program.  And now, nearly eight years later, as the Fair Food Nation presses Wendy’s to get with the Program, the PC(USA) is at the forefront again, with Professor Claudio Carvalhaes and the Rev. Dr. Arlene Gordon, President of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus — which has supported the Campaign for Fair Food since its earliest days — among those leading the way.

The scores of Presbyterians made it clear that they were there not only to celebrate the sweeping changes taking place in Florida’s fields today, but also to call on Mr. Emil Brolick to heed his own 2005 call for other major players in fast food industry to join the Program.  

In the words of Gradye Parsons, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of PC(USA), “We are dismayed that Wendy’s has yet to join this proven program and we appeal to CEO Emil Brolick to embody the resolve and foresight he demonstrated while president of Taco Bell when it became the first corporation to sign a fair food agreement with the CIW in 2005.”

[An historical note:  For those readers still not aware of this particular quirk of fate, Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick was the CEO of Taco Bell at the time that the CIW and Taco Bell signed the first Fair Food Agreement in 2005.  At that time, Mr. Brolick said in the joint press release announcing the agreement:

“As an industry leader, we are pleased to lend our support to and work with the CIW to improve working and pay conditions for farmworkers in the Florida tomato fields,” said Emil Brolick, Taco Bell president.

“We recognize that Florida tomato workers do not enjoy the same rights and conditions as employees in other industries, and there is a need for reform. We have indicated that any solution must be industry-wide, as our company simply does not have the clout alone to solve the issues raised by the CIW, but we are willing to play a leadership role within our industry to be part of the solution,” Brolick added. read more 

Today, however, Mr. Brolick is standing against the reform he helped launch, against the very same solution he helped forge back in 2005, from his post as CEO of Wendy’s.  To quote a popular film at the time of the Taco Bell boycott, “Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.”]

The press certainly took notice of the Presbyterian presence outside of Wendy’s. In addition to the Christian Post article leading up to the action, the Courier-Journal came out to capture the rally, and produced a video highlighting both the powerful words of the CIW’s Lucas Benitez, who took part in the gathering, as well as local Louisville pastor Anne Deibert:

 Next up, the young un’s…

DSC04700-1Along with our long-standing allies from the Presbyterian community, students certainly weren’t to be left out of the fun!

After four days of presentations, workshops, trainings, and late night discussions, dozens of students from the National Student Power Convergence joined with local students from the University of Wisconsin Madison on a mile-long march to the local Wendy’s on August 3rd. Honks and cheers of support followed the students down the street, both from cars and, upon arrival, even Wendy’s customers.

Infused with the energy that young people have brought to the Campaign from its earliest days, the march culminated with a rally and delegation to the local Wendy’s. The message from these young leaders from across the country was clear: Wendy’s, come to the table!

 And some even younger people!

Last but certainly not least on this eventful Saturday, the CIW women’s group packed up kids, snacks, and signs and took off for their own demonstration at Wendy’s. Joined by local press and some of the CIW’s most stalwart Southwest Florida allies, farmworker women and their children picketed in Bonita Springs (braving a bit of Florida’s daily afternoon rains for the cause!). The spirit of the families side by side with allies comes through loud and clear in photos from the action:



Along with allies, Fox 4 came out to cover these young picketers and their mothers. In their article and excellent video of the protest (don’t miss it on their site!), Fox 4 captured the succinct, powerful message to Wendy’s that has defined this summer’s constant stream of activity in the Wendy’s campaign:

Coalition of Immokalee Workers protests Wendy’s;
Workers want Wendy’s to sign Fair Food Program

IMG_3776ESTERO, Fla. – The Coalition of Immokalee Workers gathered in front of the Wendy’s in Estero Saturday asking for justice and respect.

“We want Wendy’s to join its other competitors that already apart of the Fair Food Program,” farm worker Carmen Esquivel said.

The Fair Food Program is an initiative that supports corporations paying an extra penny per pound to help improve working conditions, increase wages and stop forced labor for tomato growers.

“For us, one cent more is another spoonful of food in the pot to be able to feed our families,” Esquivel said.

Other fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King have already signed on.

“Wendy’s with their social justice and foster children that they support, I don’t understand how they can no support farm workers and their families,” Linda McDonald, with Interfaith Action, said.

McDonald stood side-by-side with the CIW at today’s protest.

“It’s just basic human rights, human beings need to be treated with respect. They are working very very hard and as consumers we need to care where our food comes from,” McDonald said.

There you have it — just the first few reports from the Wendy’s Week of Action! Don’t miss the rest of the action as the Fair Food Nation, from Ohio to New York, rallies in support of respect for farmworkers. Find the full list and how to get involved at the Wendy’s campaign page, and stay tuned for more updates in the days to come!