Better late than never… A Labor Day action report from the Publix AND Wendy’s fronts!

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After a relatively quiet summer — punctuated, of course, by some great protests around the country — the Fair Food Nation marked the end of the season with two gorgeous, creative actions for Labor Day (yes, we know Labor Day was last weekend, but we had a busy week this past week!).  Instead of heading to the beach, farmworkers and allies packed their cars with brightly colored artwork and bullhorns, determined to celebrate the true meaning of Labor Day by recognizing the invaluable contribution of the men and women who work hard every day to put food on our tables.  Here in Florida, they gathered in Tampa for a Publix protest — followed by the first-ever “Fair Food Fest” — while up in Ohio, the unstoppable Ohio Fair Food rode bicycles through the streets of Columbus, drawing inspiration from Denver’s Tour de Fair Food from earlier in the summer for a spirited Wendy’s action.


Down in Immokalee, dozens of farmworkers piled into vans, kids in tow, and headed up to meet allies in the heart of Tampa for a Publix protest (and for a bit of fun, as you’ll see below).  Not sure what kind of turnout to expect on a sweltering, end of summer day — not to mention a holiday — the Immokalee contingent was overjoyed to roll up on a large crowd awaiting them in the streets, including representatives from Tampa Bay Fair Food, Florida Quakers (hailing from both Tampa and Sarasota), Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater and St. Petersburg, the Pinellas Support Committee of the National Farmworker Ministry, YAYA-NFWM (the youth arm of the National Farmworker Ministry), Raices en Tampa, and more!


After a lively picket in the hot Florida sun, a delegation from the CIW women’s group — accompanied by four of their children — went to deliver a message to the Publix manager.  On this fifth Labor Day of Publix protests, CIW’s Nely Rodriguez noted that several of the children in the delegation have been in the Publix campaign “since they were in the womb.”  


Once infants on the Publix picket line, these kids are now leading them.


Following the protest was the first-ever “Fair Food Festival” under the shade of the live oaks of De Soto Park, on the banks of Tampa Bay.  To kick off the season right, allies and farmworkers broke bread together, and enjoyed a series of Fair Food-themed carnival games, complete with a “tug of war”…


… and a sack race!


And so it was that the Fair Food Nation of Florida celebrated Labor Day…  and geared up for brand new season in the Campaign for Fair Food!


Further north, Ohio Fair Food celebrated Labor Day in style as well!  Taking a leaf out of the book of Denver Fair Food, Columbus allies dusted off their bikes and took to the streets of Wendy’s home city.  In their own words, here is a full account of the day:

Greetings #FairFoodNation!

Inspired by Denver’s “Tour De Fair Food”, Ohio Fair Food organized and carried out  its own bike action for the Labor Day Weekend. 100 Fair Food allies came out on for BIKE! for #FairFood. 

The action was a collaboration with BIKE!BIKE! 2014 – an annual conference for bicycle cooperatives and advocacy groups – hosted this year in Columbus.  Ohio Fair Food members were present throughout the conference, leading workshops on social change, helping out wherever possible, and promoting the Bike Action. 


On Sunday, Ohio Fair Food members led 60 bikers from BIKE!BIKE! on a bike ride to join 40 fair food allies already rallying at a Wendy’s on the East Side of Columbus.  With flags mounted on bikes, BIKE!BIKE! attendees swooped in and joined the rally outside Wendy’s.


Rally participants heard from Fair Food allies:, Rev. Karl Stephens, Henry Peller: Ohio State SFA/Real Food Challenge member, Rita Antrit, from Third Hand Bicycle Co-Op and organizer of BIKE!BIKE! 2014, and CIW member Nely Rodriguez called in from a protest in Tampa. 

12Karl, Henry, Rita, and Nick Pasquarello (Ohio Fair Food member) then went on a delegation (see photo on the right) and were met by the manager who stopped them at the door, refused to take the letter, and simply said “Get out”.

Not at all deterred by this, the crowd got ready to take the rally to another Wendy’s on the South Side of Columbus.  The group biked 2.7 miles through Downtown Columbus to the next Wendy’s and began the second picket.

The two managers at this Wendy’s came to the outside seating area to observe the rally.  When the delegation walked up to speak to them, they were again met with refusal and denial of their ability to pass the message on to Wendy’s Corporation.

This is the collaboration that will help us win Wendy’s, build local power and push us all toward social action and change.


In conclusion:  If Labor Day 2014 was representative of what Publix and Wendy’s have to look forward to in the coming season, then this may very well be their last season outside of the Fair Food Program!