VIDEO AND PHOTO REPORT: March to End Slavery in the Fields!

Marchers carry one of countless colorful banners through the streets of Palm Beach on Saturday, taking their urgent call for long-overdue justice for farmworkers on non-Fair Food Program farms directly to the residents of one of the country’s wealthiest communities, and the hometown of Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz.

Tomas Terraza, farmworker, Homestead (Palm Beach Post): “It’s about justice. We’re fighting for our basic rights in the fields, in construction, in roofing, in many different jobs”…

Rev. Kim Robles, Miami Shores Presbyterian Church (Palm Beach Post): “We’re coming because we believe that Jesus was one that always stood with the oppressed and marginalized and it’s our call to do the same,” she said. “I would like to see the entire industry change so we don’t have any more abuses in the fields.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski (NBC-5): “Of course, farmworkers are essential workers…  They give an honest day’s work, they want an honest day’s pay, and they want to be treated with respect and dignity.”

Saturday’s massive march through downtown Palm Beach continues to reverberate across the state, from the bougainvillea-lined lanes of the posh billionaire enclave itself, to the dusty streets of farmworker communities on both coasts.  It was the first big Campaign for Fair Food action in over two years, and it did not disappoint!

As promised, we have been working on an update since the march wrapped up late Saturday, complete with a video of the day’s many highlights, a beautiful photo gallery capturing the color and energy of an unforgettable event, and a media round-up, with excerpts and links to still more videos and photos from the march.  Up first is the video, which comes in a little longer than our usual short at just over 4 minutes, but is well worth the extra time!  Enjoy:

Next up is the CIW photo gallery (we say the “CIW photo gallery” because these are the photos taken by CIW photographers, but they are certainly not all the photos you can find in this update, as the media round-up that follows is chock full of wonderful photos, galleries, and videos shot by each outlet that showed up to cover the march!):

And finally, the March to End Modern-day Slavery media round-up!  Already several wonderful reports on the march have been published, with more to come, so for now here is a current list, with brief excerpts, but be sure to come back for more in the days ahead:

Palm Beach Post: “Farmworkers protest for end to ‘slavery in the fields,’ target Wendy’s chairman,” 4/3/22:

…The Fair Food Program is an antidote to exploitation, according to [the CIW’s] Reyes-Chávez. 

McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Yum! Brands and Chipotle, as well as major grocers and food service companies such as Whole Foods, Walmart, Aramark and Compass, have joined the Fair Food Program, the coalition said.

Saturday’s march garnered support from farmworkers around Florida and as far away as Minnesota and Vermont. Attendees wore T-shirts that identified them with worker’s groups that read “We Count!” and “Justice for Farmworkers,” and “Worker Power. Tenant Power. People Power.”

Poetry, music, call-and-response, and a theatre-like performance called on marchers to demand change from U.S.-based fast food and chain restaurants…

NBC 5 Local: Farmworkers protest Wendy’s restaurants in Palm Beach: ‘Workers need to be recognized not as a commodity of production, but as persons,'” 4/2/22:

… “Wendy’s says they can’t join the Fair Food Program because none of their current suppliers participate in the program, but that’s just a dodge,” said Yaissy Solis with the Alliance for Fair Food. “Wendy’s could either come back to their longtime Florida suppliers (who they abandoned back in 2015 precisely because those farms joined the FFP), or bring its current greenhouse suppliers into the Fair Food Program, either way would work. It’s really very simple.”

“Workers need to be recognized not as a commodity of production, but as persons,” said Lindsay McElroy.

McElroy is the Guatemalan-Maya Center Executive Administrative Assistant in Lake Worth Beach. She says longstanding farm labor concerns need to continue to be at the forefront…

Daily Mail (UK): “Hundreds rally to demand Wendy’s chairman Nelson Peltz end ‘modern-day slavery’ by joining Fair Food Program in protest outside Palm Beach offices of the soon-to-be billionaire father-in-law of Brooklyn Beckham,” 4/3/22:

… On Sunday, workers gathered in Bradley Park for live music, poetry readings and performances featuring actors dressed like ‘Wendy’ and Peltz, complete with matching wigs and bald caps.

They marched for five miles down the ritzy island and past the $23 million offices of Peltz’s investment fund Trian Partners, which is a part-owner of Wendy’s. 

Peltz also lives in the area. Next weekend, he will host the wedding of his daughter, actress Nicola, to Brooklyn Beckham, the son of David and Victoria Beckham, at his family mansion.

Sojourners: “Farmworkers receive archbishop’s blessing of Wendy’s protest,” 4/1/22:

… The worker-driven social responsibility model centers workers in the creation, management, and enforcement of programs that protect worker rights.

“The Coalition of Immokalee Farm Workers has a long history of support from the Catholic Church here in Florida,” Wenski, the Catholic archbishop of Miami, told Sojourners by email the week leading up to the march.  In addition to a blessing, Wenski is also set to speak at the end of the march on April 2.

“I plan to be in Palm Beach Saturday afternoon to once again lend my support and accompany CIW as they seek to convince Wendy’s to join McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and Chipotle in signing on to the Fair Food Program that has won groundbreaking protections for farmworkers,” he said.

Check back again soon for more media links!

That’s it for now, but before wrapping up, we would be remiss if we did not mention some of the countless allies that mobilized tirelessly in their communities, classrooms, and congregations so that the march could be such a huge, joyous success.  Here is just a snapshot of the many people and organizations — from construction workers to college students, academics to archbishops — that mobilized hundreds to march for Fair Food alongside farmworkers from Immokalee:

Our heartfelt thanks go out to all who joined us Saturday on the march, an action that seemed even larger than its 800 marchers, as the first march since the pandemic effectively silenced the voices of workers from Immokalee and sidelined the Fair Food Nation.  But Saturday’s march marked an end to that silence, with more to come in the weeks and months ahead, including a march in New York City next month.  Stay tuned!