Wendy’s Boycott actions heat up as Month of Outrage winds down!

Farmworkers from Immokalee join Sarasota area allies for a spirited May 1st protest at a local Wendy’s restaurant.

The Month of Outrage in the nascent Wendy’s Boycott is a wrap.  For the entire month of April, farmworkers and countless consumer allies led pickets outside Wendy’s restaurants, collected pledges to join the Wendy’s boycott, and wrote biting op/eds in their school and local newspapers calling the fast-food giant out for running from real social responsibility in Florida and taking its tomato purchases to Mexico, where human rights violations are endemic and go virtually unchecked.  

But in keeping with the spirit of indignation that prompted the call for a full month of protests, the response of Fair Food activists around the country was so big, so passionate, that it couldn’t be contained to just one month!   That’s why this past Sunday, May 1st, saw vibrant actions take place in several cities across the Fair Food Nation — from New York City to Columbus, Ohio — and it is our pleasure to share with you today some beautiful photos and firsthand reports from those protests in our final update from the Month of Outrage. 

New York:


New York City, the birthplace of the Wendy’s Boycott, was in fine form on May 1st, with a march through the streets of Manhattan (above) to a Wendy’s restaurant in the city.  Here’s a quick report from New York’s Community/Farmworker Alliance:

On May 1, members of NYC’s Community/Farmworker Alliance organized a letter delivery to the manager of the store, while others stayed outside to flyer and educate passers by about the Wendy’s Boycott, launched just a month earlier right in the Big Apple. We were able to go inside and attempt to deliver the delegation letter to the manager.  We were able to talk to a couple of the Wendy’s workers and leave the delegation letter along with some postcards and stickers at the register.  A team also gave out about 250 flyers to the rally attendees and passersby and we gave out a ton of the Wendy’s stickers to people attending the rally. 

Earlier last month in Brooklyn, students at the Life Academy High School for Film & Music put their art skills to work to help spread the word of the boycott.  Here’s a quick report:


Over fifty students from the Brooklyn-based Life Academy High School for Film & Music silk-screened ‘Boycott Wendy’s’ t-shirts in the Stony Point Center Art Space last week. The students were visiting Stony Point Center for a day of skill training for living and learning in this world.  In the “T-shirts and Activism” workshop, residents of the Community of Living Traditions, the multi-faith community at Stony Point Center, led students in reflecting on the many ways we can spread messages of justice out into the world… including wearing our messages! The students engaged in learning about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and immediately jumped on board the call to boycott Wendy’s, signing on to the boycott pledge and taking manager’s letters to deliver at their local Wendy’s restaurant.  Each student had a chance to learn the mechanics of screen printing and at the end of the day, we had over 50 ‘Boycott Wendy’s’ shirts. As they went through the buffet line at lunch, several students wearing freshly inked shirts led the chant, “Boycott Wendy’s! Boycott Wendy’s!”  Look out Wendy’s…  Life Academy High School students are coming to you!

Further to the north, residents of Rockland and Westchester counties would not be outdone by their city compatriots.  One of the growing number of Fair Food activists in Rockland County sent us this report complete with photos:


After weeks of going out to our schools, faith centers, and communities to collect boycott pledges we ended the Month of Outrage with a double whammy of boycott pledge deliveries!

On Saturday 4/30, members of Hudson River Presbytery – a regional body of Presbyterians – and the Community of Living Traditions – Jewish, Muslim, and Christian community members and allies – formed a colorful picket line outside their local Wendy’s in Rockland County, NY. As local traffic honked and cheered in support, a small delegation made up of a local pastor, a Rockland County farmer, a (former) Wendy’s customer and her 9-year-old son went inside to deliver a manager’s letter and over 100 boycott pledge signatures. Despite powerful pleas from the delegation, the manager refused to receive the letter.  The action ended with a commitment to return… and return again until Wendy’s does the right thing!! 


On Sunday, May 1st, the action continued in The Galleria Mall Wendy’s in White Plains. There a delegation consisting of a student from George Washington Elementary, a Manhattanville College undergrad, a reverend, and a teacher unfurled a dramatic scroll of signatures (above) and encouraged Wendy’s to do the right thing and get with the program. To our surprise they accepted the pledges and agreed to pass along our request to the manager!

Keep it coming, New York!

Columbus, Ohio:


Meanwhile, back in Columbus, Ohio — Wendy’s hometown and the site of a massive protest during the Workers’ Voice Tour earlier this spring — the manager at the Wendy’s near the Ohio State University campus must have thought it was Groundhog Day when dozens of protesters returned to line the street outside the restaurant once again.  Here’s a report from one of the leaders at the ever-vigilant Ohio Fair Food:

As a part of the Month of Outrage, students, young people and community members came together on two separate occasions to let Wendy’s know that we as Ohio State Students and Columbus residents are unsatisfied and outraged by their continued refusal to join the Fair Food Program.

First, Ohio State Student/Farmworker Alliance tried to deliver a letter to the nearby campus Wendy’s to express our concerns with Wendy’s practices and discuss these concerns with the manager there. She refused to speak with us and would not accept our letter, instead asking us to leave the store immediately. We were able to pass out some flyers outside the Wendy’s and to customers outside of the store.

Then, on May 1, over 75 people gathered from various student and community organizations, including the Central Ohio Worker Center, to celebrate May Day and workers everywhere and to support the efforts of Reclaim OSU with the slogan Reclaim Columbus.  


The event included stops at at Verizon Wireless, the Ohio Union, and Wendy’s.  After hearing CIW member Santiago speak via a phone call placed up to a megaphone, Reclaim OSU member, Coco Smyth, announced their endorsement of the boycott stating:  “Since its inception, ReclaimOSU has recognized that the student movement must be in full solidarity with the working class struggle and the struggles of all oppressed peoples. For this reason we believe it is necessary for us to stand in support of the boycott of Wendy’s called for by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.”  

Well done, Columbus!  Down here in Immokalee, we can’t hardly wait to get back up there again and make our voices heard together at Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting this May 26!

Sarasota, Florida


Of course Florida, birthplace of the Fair Food Movement itself, had a word — or two, or three — to say itself on May 1st.  A huge protest in Sarasota was jointly organized  by CIW members in Immokalee and their allies in the Sarasota area, and though the local manager refused to allow a delegation of workers and consumers to enter the restaurant or to even listen to their concerns, the action was spirited, colorful, and a huge success!

Here below are several photos from the afternoon and some words from a few of the participants:


Annie Rosenblum, New College student:  “If I would have been able to talk to the manager inside I would have told them that as a young student, as a young educated student, and on behalf of the rest of the students who are also my age receiving education, we will not turn a blind eye to Wendy’s not agreeing to sign on to the Fair Food Program and we will not support them, we will continue to boycott them until they do so.”


Nancy Vanderwall of the United Methodist Women:  “[The United Methodist Women] have been involved for over 5 years. We are not giving up. We will continue to fight and get this resolved. And we are going to boycott Wendy’s and they will feel it in their pockets and that’s what I would have said to the manager if I could have spoken to her.”


Gerardo Reyes Chavez, CIW: “There have been many actions that have taken place here in Sarasota, and there’s always a beautiful sense of hope that comes from this region. And the reason is not the geography, the reason is the people who fight with us…  We know that our dreams of a fairer food industry will one day be made real and until then we will continue to push with everything we’ve got!”

And so concludes our final report from the Month of Outrage.  It was an unforgettable month, to be sure, so much so that it is hard to believe that it has only been one month since the declaration of the boycott in March.  We can only imagine how things will be once we get this campaign really rolling!

Check back soon for some very big news in the boycott next week.  Until then, we leave you now with one final image from the Sarasota protest: