Can’t-miss radio: Public Radio International story brilliantly captures Fair Food Program success in fight against sexual harassment in the fields!

CIW Education Team members use a drawing during a recent worker-to-worker education session on a Fair Food Program farm to discuss the issue of sexual harassment.

Public Radio International: “As the list of powerful men accused of sexual harassment grows, a group of women have managed to stop harassment in the tomato fields of Florida…”

PLUS: Huge news out of New York… the New York Episcopal Diocese formally endorses the Wendy’s Boycott!

Big news is breaking fast these days in the world of Fair Food, so please bear with us as we bring you not one but two headlines in today’s update…

First up, if you’ll recall, just a little over two weeks ago a major editorial in the Sunday New York Times singled out the Fair Food Program (FFP) as a national model for “how to change the culture” of sexual harassment in the workplace.  At the time, the Times editorial board identified the “swift and clear” market consequences that underlie the enforcement power of the Fair Food Program — and that have, after six years in practice, paved the way to the actual prevention of sexual abuse in the fields — as an essential mechanism for addressing the phenomenon of sexual harassment on the national stage:

… But speaking up only goes so far if employers don’t make reporting harassment easy or the consequences for harassers swift and clear. Treating sexual harassment seriously is essential, not to protect against liability or to safeguard the bottom line, but because it’s wrong for anyone to have to endure harassment at work. (Though it sure helps when liability and the bottom line are at stake, too.)

Some of the nation’s largest companies are moving in the right direction. For example, McDonald’s, Burger King, Aramark and Walmart have signed on to a program requiring their tomato growers to adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits sexual harassment and assault of farmworkers, and provides a clear system for the growers’ 30,000 workers to file complaints. Fourteen businesses are part of the program; many more should join… (read more)

Yesterday, Public Radio International aired an 8-minute story on the CIW’s Fair Food Program that picks up where the New York Times editorial left off, taking a deep dive into the FFP’s history, the program’s unique enforcement mechanisms, and its exemplary success in not just combating, but ending sexual harassment and assault in the fields.  

Check out the tweet below to hear the remarkable story in its entirety.  It is the day’s top story and lasts roughly through the 9-minute mark, so grab a cup of coffee and a settle in for an extraordinary bit of radio that answers the question of just how some of the poorest, least powerful women in the nation managed to solve a problem that has vexed this country — and women of every economic and educational class — for as long as anyone can remember: 

New York Episcopal Diocese endorses the Wendy’s Boycott!

In a major development in New York’s massive faith community, the New York Episcopal Diocese — a formidable presence itself in the Big Apple, representing nearly 60,000 members across the city and surrounding counties — formally endorsed the Wendy’s Boycott! 

The CIW’s Harvest without Violence mobile exhibit (above) was set up outside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine last weekend, coinciding with the 241st Convention of the Episcopal Diocese.  In his opening remarks, Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, the esteemed Bishop of the Diocese, included the Coalition in his remarks:

If you wander the Cathedral Close today you will find an exhibition in the circular patio surrounding the Peace Statue entitled Harvest Without Violence.  The exhibition is in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which advocates in Florida for migrant workers even as Rural and Migrant Ministries does here in New York.  I am not going to speak at any length about that now, but I commend the exhibition to you so that this convention may receive a resolution, rising from my address, regarding this organization and the workers.  That resolution, with accompanying history and explanation, will come to you immediately following this address.

Later in the day, after many attendees had had a chance to be guided through the mobile museum by the CIW’s Oscar Otzoy and Julia de la Cruz, Rev. Stephen Holton introduced a resolution from the floor in support of the Wendy’s Boycott.  Here is the resolution, a succinct and irrefutable argument for the urgency of the boycott:

WHEREAS, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an award-winning farmworker-based human rights organization, has taken on the giants of Big Agriculture and built a new system of labor protection called the Fair Food Program, and

WHEREAS, in five short years since its implementation, the Fair Food Program has prevented modern-day slavery and sexual violence, improved farmworker wages, and guaranteed basic safety protections for workers, and

WHEREAS, the penny-per-pound Fair Food Premium is received annually by approximately 35,000 farmworkers and their families (1), with participating companies having funneled over $20 million in Fair Food Premiums to improve workers’ wages since 2011, and

WHEREAS, 14 major fast food and supermarket chains have signed on to Fair Food, including Taco Bell (Yum Brands), McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Chipotle, and WalMart, and

WHEREAS, Wendy’s has sought to circumvent participation in the Fair Food Program by abandoning Florida to source its tomatoes from Mexico, buying tomatoes from a grower (2) whose labor camps are associated with extreme poverty, violent abuse, substandard housing, child labor and wage theft, and

WHEREAS, The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is leading a nationwide boycott of Wendy’s, to pressure the fast-food giant to join its competitors and participate in a worker-led social responsibility system that links corporate accountability with labor justice from farm to table, and

WHEREAS, the National Council of Churches endorsed the Wendy’s Boycott last month…

Right before the resolution went up for a vote, Oscar Otzoy of the CIW addressed the convention, stepping up to the mic to share his own experiences as a farmworker and organizer.  Carried by the strength of his testimony, the resolution passed with a sweeping vote in favor, making New York the second Episcopal Diocese to endorse the boycott (following the endorsement of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio last year)!

… RESOLVED that the Diocese of New York endorse the Wendy’s boycott, and raise our moral voice to call on Wendy’s to protect the human rights of farmworkers by joining the Fair Food Program.

Oscar Otzoy of CIW (second from left) with Rev. Stephen Holton, Rev. Yamily Bass-Choate, Liaison for Global Mission for the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and Lisa Schubert, Vice President at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Stay tuned for next week’s major action in New York City!