PHOTO REPORT: Hundreds of allies and farmworkers march in Miami, Washington DC in support of dignity for women in the fields!

Women farmworkers to Wendy’s, Publix:  “We will never go back to the way it was before, living every day with exploitation — we want all women to have the experience of working with dignity.”

This past weekend, the brisk fall weather drew hundreds of farmworkers and allies out onto the sidewalks in both Miami, Florida, and Washington, DC, for two high-spirited protests in support of Fair Food.  Galvanized by the explosive national conversation about the widespread epidemic of sexual harassment in the workplace, the marchers took action to put a stop to sexual violence in U.S. agricultural fields — the very fields where observers can find both the very worst workplace sexual abuse this country has to offer, in frequency and degree, and the country’s most effective program for preventing that abuse: the Fair Food Program. 

Today, we bring you photo reports from Miami and Washington, just in time to warm up the Fair Food Nation for next Monday’s major mobilization outside the offices of Wendy’s Board Chairman, Nelson Peltz, in New York City.

Miami, Florida

Miami never fails to put on a great protest, and this past Saturday was no exception!  Over 200 farmworkers, their families and allies from across South Florida gathered at Margaret Pace Park to march up Miami’s bustling Biscayne Boulevard to the local Wendy’s in a boisterous, high-spirited action.

As the crowd stepped off for the 3-mile march, accompanied by members of Miami’s Police Department, the bright sun and breezy weather lifted everyone’s spirits — especially the younger marchers:

Upon reaching the fast food chain, hundreds of marchers settled in for the picket, chanting for Fair Food while a delegation of students from St. Thomas University and Barry University accompanied CIW’s Nely Rodriguez into the Wendy’s.  But the day’s action didn’t end there!  Following the Wendy’s delegation, the crowd of hundreds picked up their signs once more and headed down to Publix, the Florida-based supermarket chain that has spent seven years resisting the call to support fundamental human rights for the women and men who harvest their tomatoes.

Once the large crowd arrived at the end of the three miles, tired but with spirits strong, the protest was brought to a rousing close with remarks from CIW’s Nely Rodriguez and Lupe Gonzalo:

We want to thank all of the students and young people who came out today!  The only way we will be able to win justice is with you at our side.  Even though farmworker women have faced sexual abuse in the fields for years, today, we have so much to be thankful for because of the changes brought about by the Fair Food Program.  But we also have a lot to fight for, we have a long way to go.  We will not allow Wendy’s to throw away the rights that women have worked so hard for, to dismantle the justice that we have fought for.

Publix, as they have always done, brought us into a small space away from the eyes of consumers.  They always want us to be hidden.  But that is exactly why we are in this fight — so that we are no longer invisible.  But even if they try to hide a few of us in a delegation, they cannot hide the hundreds of people out on the streets on their doorstep.  This is how we have brought 14 companies to the table.  Working together, we will bring Publix, we will bring Wendy’s, we will bring many more corporations to the table of dialogue.  We will never go back to the way it was before, living every day with exploitation — we want all women to have the experience of working with dignity.  We as women are here today, speaking openly about their stories of sexual harassment, because we have won the right to come forward without retaliation.  We all must fight together so that all women have the right to speak freely.  Together, we will win!

Washington, DC

The very next day, the Fair Food spirit came to life in Washington, DC, a longtime stronghold for Fair Food, with a small but animated crew of student and community allies.  Here are the photos and report straight from DC Fair Food, the Fair Food committee that keeps the heat on high for companies like Wendy’s the whole year round:

On a cold but sunny day, DC Fair Food held a dynamic picket on Sunday afternoon at the Petworth Wendy’s, with including students from Georgetown and community members from across the city.  We marched from the Petworth Metro station, practicing our chants to the sound of a jarana and a tomato bucket drum.

At the Wendy’s, we started with some opening words and talked about sexual violence as well as being in solidarity with farmworker women.

After about 45 minutes of marching and chanting, Ben O’Hara (Georgetown student), Pamela Escalante-Gonzalez (SFA) and Alfredo Castro (DCFF) delivered a letter to the Wendy’s manager.  The manager was unreceptive and refused to talk to us, she had a phone out and was ready to call the police but said she knew we could stay on the sidewalk.  Alfredo said that he was disappointed that the manager was unreceptive but that we won’t let that deter our spirit.  

Many people stopped and asked us why we were boycotting Wendy’s.  The attention of the community was peaked as folks cheered us on, shared the action via social media.

And that’s a wrap!  Stay tuned for Friday’s packed update on the ongoing Harvest without Violence Mobile Exhibit in New York City, and remember to mark your calendars for next Monday, November 20th, to participate in the national call-in day to the offices of Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz!