Wendy’s Week of Action Sweeps through Midwest on Way to East Coast!

Colorful Chicago Fair Food outside of Wendy's in the heart of the Windy City
Members of Chicago Fair Food gather outside of a Wendy’s in the heart of the Windy City during the Wendy’s Week of Action.

From Chicago, IL, to Providence, RI, the late summer front of protests takes Wendy’s by storm!

Wendy’s long, hot summer raged on this past week, and based on the colorful protests that sprang up across the country in support of the Campaign for Fair Food, it’s safe to say that the writing is on the wall for the final fast-food hold out.

Protesters send their message loud and clear this week in Boston.

Or, to borrow Bob Dylan’s unforgettable line, Wendy’s doesn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows!

Wendy’s luckless attempts to wish away the Fair Food Program — from CEO Emil Brolick’s misleading claims about the company’s participation in the Fair Food Program during last spring’s shareholder meeting to local restaurant managers’ refusals to even speak with consumers during this summer’s protests — paint the picture of a company determined to turn its back, at all costs, on the historic changes taking place in Florida’s fields. Fortunately, the Fair Food Nation is not known for allowing fast-food industry leaders to dodge their responsibility to the workers who pick their tomatoes for long — much less their responsibility to consumers who believe in human rights!

And so this past week was filled with protests at Wendy’s restaurants across the nation, as Fair Food activists made their voices heard and geared up for the season of even more intense Campaign action ahead, with the return of workers to the fields in Florida from the summer harvest season up north (and the return of students to schools and campuses from California to Massachusetts, as well, not inconsequentially…).  

To share all the action with you, we’ve compiled a cross section of reports from cities across the country in photo update style, here below.  (And if you didn’t catch them already, be sure to check out the protests that took place on the early end of this week’s action, which you can find here and here!). 

Week of Action Photo Report

Beginning our review up north, we start with Providence Fair Food, the growing Fair Food community that headed to a local Wendy’s this past week with a powerful coalition of organizations, including long-time student allies from the Brown Student Labor Alliance and Real Food Challenge; delegates from the faith community, hailing from Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Rhode Island State Council of Churches; community organizations like Olneyville Neighborhood Association, Freedom Food Farm, and Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project; and, of course, allies from the labor community, with representatives from SEIU District 1199Unite Here Local 217.  


A delegation of the protesters (pictured above) attempted to speak with the local manager, but, as was the case in many of this week’s protests, they were firmly rebuffed.  In the words of a first-hand report:

“Our peaceful delegation, led by Pastors Rick Kremer and Santiago Rodriguez of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, was blocked from entering by both managers, who asked us to leave immediately and threatened to both lock the Wendy’s and call the police.”


Probably not the best way to win customers in a crowded fast-food field…

… Meanwhile, in upstate New York, Fair Food activists gathered for a potluck dinner (pictured on the right), during which they collected signatures for manager letters for the Week of Action.  They followed up the Fair Food potluck by dropping off dozens of signatures on Wendy’s doorstep the next day… 

… and in New York City proper, the  Community / Farmworker Alliance asked customers to toss a penny in the hat (below) to help demonstrate consumer support for the Fair Food Program. If its customers are more than happy to do it, why isn’t Wendy’s?…


Heading south, we catch up with the fine folks at Philly Fair Food, who brought chants and classic Immokalee-style animo to the streets of Philadelphia (below)!

The action attracted the attention of the City Paper, which announced that Philadelphians were calling for “fair fast food” this summer. Check out this excerpt, highlighting the national Week of Action:

Philadelphia City Paper, Protesters target Wendy’s to demand ‘fair’ fast food


Demonstrators will be at the Wendy’s at 15th and Chestnut tomorrow at noon to try to sway the fast-food giant. The protest, which is part of national Wendy’s Week of Action in 19 cities, is sponsored by Philly Campaign for Fair Food (PCFF). In the past couple years, the campaign has helped convince Trader Joe’s and Chipotle to commit to buying from growers who commit to “a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment,” according to a PCFF press release. Wendy’s released a statement in May after a similar series of demonstrations, saying all of their suppliers already participated in the Fair Food Program, so they expected them to be providing high workplace standards without Wendy’s having to commit to the program.

“Not only is Wendy’s claim that its suppliers belong to the Fair Food Program unverifiable, it is meaningless,” says Guadalupe Gonzalo of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). “By refusing to join the Program, Wendy’s is not required to suspend its purchases from any participating grower found out of compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct.” Wendy’s did not respond to a request for comment.

Rounding out the East Coast report, Baltimore (right, below) and D.C. Fair Food weighed in with two letter deliveries (joined, as always, by the classic D.C. Wendy, left, who never fails to bring her own braids to the protest!).

BmoFairFood 007       DCFF_WendysWoA 

… and last, the Real Food Challenge had a lively picket in Boston, with more than 20 students handing out flyers, chatting with Wendy’s customers, and delivering a letter to the manager!


From the East Coast, we head over to the Midwest, where Chicago Fair Food — highlighted at the beginning of the post as well — was joined by a talented group of musicians from Canada to swell the local jaraneros numbers…


… and then to Wendy’s home state in Columbus, Ohio, where Ohio Fair Food delivered a letter to the local Wendy’s…


and finally we swing by Milwaukee, where Fair Food activists organized a small but vibrant coalition to picket and deliver a letter to the local Wendy’s! 


We close today’s update with a pic from allies back home in Florida, who took the awareness and action skills forged in the crucible of the Publix campaign and applied them to the final fast-food holdout! Allies gathered in Tallahassee as well as in the Treasure Coast — as promised! — to tell Wendy’s that it’s time to join the Fair Food Program.


To those hundreds of allies who took part in this week’s actions, we send our sincerest thanks from everyone down in Immokalee! We couldn’t think of a better way to end the summer — and to gear up for an exciting fall!

Stay tuned, Wendy’s — this is just the beginning.