2018 Student/Farmworker Alliance Encuentro in Immokalee set for Sept. 20-23!

Students, youth set to gather in massive strategy session for the Wendy’s Boycott, Boot the Braids Campaign…

The Campaign for Fair Food has hit its mid-summer stride, building off the breaking news from the Wendy’s shareholder meeting that the fast-food giant would bow to consumer pressure and pull its purchases from Mexico, turning instead to the U.S. and Canadian greenhouse markets to source its tomatoes.  Animated by this significant breakthrough in the national Wendy’s Boycott – but conscious that there’s still more work to be done to bring Wendy’s into the Fair Food Program – boycott organizers from the Student/Farmworker Alliance are already looking towards the fall. 

And with each fall comes one of the most exciting moments of the Campaign for Fair Food’s yearly calendar: the SFA Encuentro, a high-energy gathering of nearly 80 students and young people who spend a weekend skill-building, strategizing, and deepening their commitment to stand with farmworkers in Immokalee.  Here’s the invitation from the Student/Farmworker Alliance:

APPLICATION IS LIVE FOR THE 2018 STUDENT/FARMWORKER ALLIANCE ENCUENTRO: HASTA LA RAÍZ “DOWN TO THE ROOT,” SET FOR SEPTEMBER 20-23 IN IMMOKALEE, FL!

This year, 2018, marks 25 years since the birth of the CIW’s historic struggle to uproot generations of exploitation in the fields.  This farmworker-led organization has transformed labor conditions for tens of thousands of workers in the U.S. agricultural industry through the Fair Food Program, creating an international blueprint to eradicate and prevent abuses, from wage theft to sexual assault, in the workplace. 

But this work was not done alone. Together with farmworkers, students, young people and community allies have strategized and organized to bring corporation after corporation to the negotiating table with CIW. 

This year’s Encuentro gathering will go Hasta la Raíz “Down to the Root” of this incredible history to reflect on lessons CIW and SFA have drawn from past victories and build upon them as the Wendy’s Boycott surges on with more force than ever before. 

The moment for us to come together couldn’t be more perfectly timed. Just last month, SFAers and CIW members packed the house at Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting, where the company unveiled plans to shift its tomato purchases (yet again) to greenhouse operations in the U.S. 

The fact that one of the world’s largest buyers pulled nearly all its business from the abuse-ridden Mexican tomato industry is a victory in itself, and let there be no doubt that our movement pushed Wendy’s to make this drastic decision. Now, we must fight harder than ever to push Wendy’s over the finish line to sign a Fair Food Agreement with the CIW. 

From September 20-23, we’re bringing together brilliant young organizers from across the country to devise a winning strategy in the Wendy’s Boycott. At the Encuentro, we will build our organizing skills and leadership as a network, learn directly from the farmworker community in Immokalee, and delve deep into SFA’s rich history in the Campaign for Fair Food. 

Submit an application to join us at the 2018 SFA Encuentro this fall, and don’t hesitate to hit us up if you’ve got any questions at organize@sfalliance.org

And we know SFA is fired up and ready to go, because just this past weekend, the national Steering Committee – a leadership body of dedicated student and youth leaders from across the country who help to mobilize and strategize for the Campaign for Fair Food – gathered in Immokalee.  After several intensive days of timelines, strategy debates, and concrete planning, the SC topped the weekend off with a spirited protest alongside local allies, farmworkers, and their families in Fort Myers.  The energy of the relatively small crowd was so infectious that it made the front page of the Fort Myers News-Press, which posted a beautiful series of photos and brief article.  Just to get you excited for the upcoming Encuentro, we’ll wrap up with the photos and story from The News-Press:

Protest at Fort Myers Wendy’s urges company to join Fair Food Program

A demonstration Sunday in front of a Wendy’s restaurant in south Fort Myers brought farmworkers, students and others out to highlight what they said were human rights abuses in the company’s’ produce supply chain.

The protest, co-organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the national leadership of the Student/Farmworker Alliance, called on Wendy’s to join the coalition’s Fair Food Program, a worker-driven workplace monitoring initiative.

Wendy’s has declined to join. Competitors McDonald’s and Burger King participate.

Pamela Vazquez, 22, joins more than 30 farmworkers, students and Southwest Florida residents protesting on Sunday outside Wendy’s at Six Mile Cypress Parkway and U.S. 41 in Fort Myers. The protest, organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Student Farmworker Alliance, calls for Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program (FFP). FFP is a workplace monitoring initiative that seeks humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables in seven states along the east coast. Wendy’s is the only major fast food company that has not committed to FFP. On July 19, the CIW will protest in New York at the office of Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz. (Photo: Kinfay Moroti/news-press.com)

At the protest Sunday, Natalia Ginsburg, an organizer from the Student/Farmworker Alliance, said Wendy’s recent announcement that it would be repatriating the majority of its tomato purchases from Mexico to greenhouses in the U.S. and Canada by the end of the year was an attempt by the chain to get around joining the Fair Food Program.

“Wendy’s shifting to greenhouses are not part of the Fair Food Program,” she said. “Abuses are still happening, even behind glass.”

Lupe Gonzalo, a farmworker leader with the coalition, added: “The reality is that workers in greenhouses face the very same situations of abuse, and sometimes it’s even worse than in an open field. Sometimes, people think of greenhouses in the way they think about organic food — the tomato sounds like it will be of a higher quality, and so the working conditions must also be better.

“But it’s not just about having organic food on the table, or even just about saying that workers have shade and therefore all of their problems are solved — it’s about ensuring actual human rights. But Wendy’s isn’t going to see or understand that, because they once again are sitting inside in their offices, dreaming up the quality of life that farmworkers supposedly have.”

A spokesman for Wendy’s was not immediately available.