ANNOUNCING: Farmworker women launch “Harvest without Violence” campaign to end sexual violence in Wendy’s supply chain!

This fall, CIW Women’s Group hits the road with major Wendy’s Boycott mobilizations in Columbus (Oct. 14-23), NYC (Nov. 10-20), launching new mobile museum on sexual violence in agriculture…

CIW Women’s Group:  “If we don’t speak up, we give up, and we will never give up.  We are building a path of respect and dignity for ourselves, for our daughters, for all workers.”

If you had a choice between purchasing a tomato from:

a) a farm where you know farmworker women face a daily barrage of vulgar comments, rampant sexual violence, and unchecked retaliation for speaking out about abuse, or

b) a farm where you know women are treated with respect, and abusers face swift and certain justice rather than impunity,

which would you choose?

Most people, faced with this decision, would choose the fairly-harvested tomato, and would be sickened by the idea of buying food from a farm where sexual harassment and assault are commonplace.  But as we have learned over the past four years, Wendy’s is not most people.  When Wendy’s longtime tomato suppliers in Florida joined in partnership with the CIW to implement the award-winning Fair Food Program — widely recognized (CNN, PBS, EEOC) as the single most effective program combating sexual abuse in agriculture today  — Wendy’s decided to stop buying tomatoes from Florida and shifted its purchases to Mexico instead, where sexual harassment and assault are shockingly widespread and go largely unchecked.  

A woman and child are pictured in the labor camp where hundreds of workers were liberated by the Mexican army from forced labor conditions on a major tomato producer’s farm in 2013. From grossly substandard housing to sexual harassment and forced labor, inhumane farm labor conditions in Mexico’s agricultural industry have been widely documented.

That’s why this fall, the CIW’s Women’s Group will embark on an ambitious education and action campaign to draw attention to Wendy’s unconscionable choice of violence and impunity over justice and human rights.  

As we write, the CIW is building the brand-new “Harvest without Violence Mobile Museum,” through which farmworker women will shed light on the long-hidden history of sexual violence that takes place virtually without consequence on farms outside of the Fair Food Program – including in Mexico’s burgeoning tomato industry.  The museum will also document the hard-won progress for farmworker women on FFP farms along the East Coast from Florida to New Jersey.  

Members of the CIW Women’s Group cheer at the finale of the 2016 Workers’ Voice Tour

Through this new mobile exhibit and series of cross-country tours, the CIW’s Women’s Group is sounding the call for consumer allies to take urgent action, shoulder-to-shoulder with farmworker women as they lead the struggle to end sexual violence in Wendy’s supply chain.  

Mark your calendars!…

In October and November, delegations from the CIW Women’s Group will travel to Columbus and New York City to share their powerful stories and demand that Wendy’s decision-makers — CEO Todd Penegor and Board Chair Nelson Peltz — do their part to end sexual violence in the fields.  

So pull out your calendars and make sure to join us in Columbus and New York City:

Columbus, OH: Oct. 14-23, with a large protest at Wendy’s Dublin headquarters on Monday, Oct. 23 at 4:30 to 6 p.m.

New York, NY: Nov. 10-20, with a march from Wendy’s to Nelson Peltz’s offices at Trian Partners on Monday, Nov. 20 at 5:30 p.m.

If you live in the Columbus or New York City areas and believe that farmworker women should not have to sacrifice their dignity just to feed their children, then you need to be there when the CIW Women’s Group comes to town!

Some context on sexual violence in agriculture…

It is virtually impossible to overstate the astonishing nature of the change wrought by the Fair Food Program, or the urgency behind the call for Wendy’s to use its power to expand the Program’s desperately-needed protections.  Next to the scourge of modern-day slavery, there are few human rights crises more dire in industrial agriculture than sexual violence against women farmworkers.  

To understand the sheer scale of violence in agriculture compared to other environments, we can turn to the numbers:  The national average of women experiencing sexual assault is already unacceptably high, at 1 in 5.  On college campuses, the percentage grows, rising to 1 in 4.  But in U.S. agriculture, a staggering 4 in 5 women are estimated to suffer sexual harassment and assault on the job.

As disheartening as those numbers may be, there is real hope for change.  Through the Fair Food Program, sexual harassment and assault have been virtually eliminated on FFP farms — a remarkable achievement given the national average, and simply astounding given the rates of sexual abuse that normally occur in agriculture.  Indeed, with 14 major food retailers now shouldering their responsibility to back farmworkers’ efforts to end sexual violence with their purchasing power, the Fair Food Program has fundamentally transformed a generations-long nightmare for farmworker women into a new day of dignity and respect.

Just last year, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission identified the FFP as a “radically different accountability mechanism” in combating sexual violence; two years earlier, PBS Frontline identified the Program as “unique in the country” in its ability to address sexual harassment in agriculture.  The FFP’s success stems from a unique combination of effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.  Unlike Wendy’s traditional — and failed — CSR approach to human rights in its supply chain, the Fair Food Program deploys worker-to-worker education, powerful market consequences, a trusted and effective complaint investigation process, and in-depth audits to verifiably prevent sexual harassment and abuse from plaguing farmworkers on the job.

Time to take action…

The CIW Women’s Group — backed by their fellow workers in the fields, and by tens of thousands of supporters like you — will not abide Wendy’s abject failure to take a stand in support of the safety and dignity of farmworkers.  Join us this fall in bringing the untold story of women in the fields into the public square, and in demanding that Wendy’s join the movement to bring change to the nation’s agricultural industry.  

Keep an eye out for upcoming announcements of how you can take action with the CIW Women’s Group this fall, including national call-in days to Wendy’s headquarters and Trian Partners as well as two major weeks of action!