Intense, jam-packed Day 4 of Freedom Fast sets the stage for massive “Time’s Up Wendy’s March”!

From left to right: Melody Gonzalez, Rev. Michael Livingston, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, and Noelle Damico prepare to deliver over 103,000 petition signatures to Nelson Peltz on Day 4 of the Freedom Fast.

Fasters deliver over 100,000 petition signatures in support of fast, boycott, to Wendy’s board chair Nelson Peltz;

Parkland students tribute; visits from Eve Ensler, Make the Road NY, National Domestic Workers Alliance; music by Olmeca; and a powerful depiction of farmworker women breaking their silence to end sexual violence highlight an unforgettable Day 4…

If the events and emotions of Day 4 were any indication, farmworkers and their allies from around the country — including those who arrived yesterday from as far away as Tennessee, Texas, and California — are gearing up for a very special Day 5 of the Freedom Fast.

Day 4 was packed with tense action, boisterous celebration, and moving moments of solidarity.  It was such a full day that we have not one, not two, but three videos for you, as well as a comprehensive photo report. 

So let’s get started with the videos — and if it’s not already on your calendar, don’t forget to join us TODAY for what is sure to be a memorable Time’s Up Wendy’s March!

A short and sweet invitation today’s big march, to share far and wide!

Freedom Fast: Day 4 – We Will Not Be Silent

Freedom Fast: Day 4 – Dedication to Parkland Students

And the Day 4 photo report follows below:

Day 4 began on a solemn note, with a tribute to the 17 students and teachers killed exactly one month ago in Parkland, Florida, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.  The tribute, held as the fasters’ form of observance of the student walkouts that took place on Wednesday on campuses across the country, began with a reading of the 17 victims’ names, and the lifting of a lighted candle after each of the names.

Pastor Miguel Estrada of Immokalee’s Mision Peniel (center) followed the reading with a deeply moving prayer, connecting the struggle of the fasters with that of the students fighting to end gun violence with the observation that, in both cases, the pain and suffering of so many “are the consequence of the greed of the few who do not care that their wealth is paid for with others’ lives,” and in both cases, the violence will only end when those suffering from the violence themselves rise up and proclaim “Enough!”

The tribute ended with a minute of silence, honoring, and contemplating, the unfathomable sadness of the parents, brothers, and sisters who lost their loved ones as they went to school on that day.

But as the sun began to rise over the fast site, the mood brightened as well, aided immeasurably on Day 4 by the visit of one of the most decorated allies in the Campaign for Fair Food, Nieves Padilla (above right), and a delegation of members from Make the Road, New York.  Nieves recalled fond memories — many of them not exactly recountable for a family site such as this! — from her times spent on Taco Bell Truth Tours back in the very earliest days of the campaign.  But despite those memories, she still had many kind things to say, as well, about the CIW and what she called the spirit of unity, honesty, respect, and, most of all, family, that she felt each and every time she had the opportunity to cross paths with workers from Immokalee.  And before she left (promising to return with many more members of Make the Road for Thursday’s march, of course), the fasters assured Nieves, and the delegation that accompanied her, that the feeling was 100% mutual.

At high noon on Day 4, the pendulum swung back to the intense, as the fasters and their allies prepared to deliver over 100,000 petition signatures in support of the fast and the Wendy’s Boycott collected at (if you still haven’t added your name to the petition, you can do so here).  The delegation began with a ceremonial presentation of the printed signatures from consumers to workers, the consumers represented by the allies among the fasters, the workers by fasters from the CIW (above).

A delegation formed of CIW representatives…

… and faith leaders from New York, including the Rev. Michael Livingston of the fasters’ home away from home in the city, the storied Riverside Church, and Rabbi Rachel Kohn-Troster, Deputy Director of  T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

The delegation gathered at the foot of the granite steps heading up to Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners offices on 280 Park Avenue… 

… with the fasters and their supporters gathered at their back…

… but the drama was over before it could build any further, as Trian Partners refused to allow the workers and religious leaders to enter the building and instead sent security to receive and deliver a small portion of the 103,000 signatures printed for Mr. Peltz’s benefit.

The delegation walked back down the six steps and returned to speak with the fasters, expressing their indignation at the fact that, in the words of one delegation member, the women and men who harvest Wendy’s fruit are invisible to Mr. Peltz.

But then a funny thing happened.  After expressing their own indignation at the fast-food giant and its board chairman…

… the fasters broke out in celebration, including an impromptu dance party, fueled by the knowledge that those who are truly secure in their power don’t fear meeting those presumably beneath them eye to eye, that the refusal to meet with the workers and their consumer allies and hear their grievances, much less allow them into the building’s spacious lobby, was not a display of strength, but a confession of weakness. 

Day 4 continued with a scheduled workshop on sexual violence in the workplace, with the participation of several stellar New York-based organizations on the frontlines of the battle for dignity and equality for women on the job, including the National Domestic Workers Alliance (represented by Daniela Contreras, above, and by the ever ebullient Ingrid Vaca, pictured below on the right in white coat and pink hat, who has filled the fast with her contagious energy from Day 1), Women Working Together, Sister Diaspora for Liberation, #InMyWords campaign, and Nely Rodriguez of the CIW.  

By the end of a truly moving and insightful dialogue among those who have been actively fighting sexual violence, forced labor, and the myriad other humiliations, large and small, that women have faced at work for generations, the consensus was clear: sexual harassment and assault, as well as all labor abuses, are, in the final analysis, crimes of power and opportunity.  The only true solution lies in organizing to win the power necessary to redress the existing imbalance that allows those crimes to continue, and to enable women to be the frontline defenders of their own rights, with the leverage to enforce them, when they are violated.  The panelists captured this message with a powerful show of unity at the conclusion of the workshop.

And then, as was the case throughout Day 4, the pendulum swung back once again from intensity to celebration, sparked by the arrival of supporters from across the country to the fast site ahead of Day 5’s big Time’s Up Wendy’s March.  Chief among them: The Bard of the Taco Bell Boycott, hip-hop artist, activist, and scholar, Olmeca (above, on the mic).  His work has been featured on BBC London, Huffington Post, NPR, KEXP Seattle, URB Magazine, Democracy Now and CNN Latino, but his heart has been with the workers in Immokalee for 17 years and counting, and his unique blend of musical styles have animated the CIW’s actions from Irvine, CA, to Chicago, IL, and now, New York, NY.

Following the musical interlude it was time once again for the daily reading of messages of solidarity.  On Day 4, the many encouraging words coming in from around the country were highlighted by the arrival of award-winning playwright Eve Ensler (who is best known for her play The Vagina Monologues, which the New York Times called “probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade”).  After leading the fasters and supporters in a rousing cheer of “Time’s Up, Wendy’s!”, Ms. Ensler read her own inspiring message of solidarity, which you can find here.

But she didn’t stop there, posting about her visit and her heartfelt admiration for the fasters’ courage and commitment on Instagram shortly after her departure from the fast site.  Ms. Ensler’s genuine support — and presence at the fast — touched the fasters deeply, and is a shining example to all the leaders of Time’s Up.  Her presence, her passion, and her willingness to share her power are what solidarity must look like as we move forward in the struggle of low-wage women to build the power necessary to be true frontline defenders of their own rights, as is the case for thousands of women in the Fair Food Program today.

Day 4 concluded with one final swing of the pendulum toward the dramatic…

… as the growing crowd of fasters and supporters symbolically taped their mouths shut, conveying the intimidation and silencing of women farmworkers facing sexual violence in fields beyond the protections of the Fair Food Program.  Nowhere, of course, is the exploitation of farmworker women more appalling than in Mexico, where the perpetrators of sexual violence are protected by a culture of impunity and corruption, and where Wendy’s shifted its tomato purchases after growers — in partnership with the CIW and the rest of the five major fast-food leaders — implemented the Fair Food Program in Florida.

At the end of the action, a series of women leaders took the mic and ripped the tape from their mouths, declaring that they were breaking their silence to fight sexual violence and all the attendant human rights violations women and men farmworkers face on the job.

Day 4 proved that the deep, and growing, unity between farmworkers and consumers represents a power that can only be ignored by food industry leaders at their own risk.  Consumers, for their part, have demonstrated, not just in the Campaign for Fair Food, but in social change uprisings from the #MeToo movement to the fight against climate change and the inspiring new momentum to end gun violence following the Parkland massacre, that they expect, and will demand, more from corporations to help solve the social ills of our day.

Help us demand an end to sexual violence in the fields toady, Day 5 of the Freedom Fast, as we take to the streets of New York for the Time’s Up Wendy’s March!