Day 6: A Letter from Lupe Gonzalo

A note to our community: We’re resuming our Sustainer Drive today. We wanted to ensure that you saw yesterday’s post for our examination of the current moment. Your support this final week makes a difference in helping us build the future of our movement. Thank you for sharing this space with us!


Today, as we resume this summer’s Sustainer Drive, we want to hand the mic over directly to one of CIW’s longtime leaders, Lupe Gonzalo, who penned a letter on what it means to build power from the bottom up, and why our fight to expand the Fair Food Program remains urgent. 

Lupe Gonzalo (center, with sign) stands outside Trian Partners Manhattan offices with fellow farmworkers and consumer allies during last month’s protest ahead of Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting.

For years, we as farmworkers have fought for our rights to be respected and enforced. In our movement, CIW has managed to bring 14 corporations into an agreement directly with workers. And, with those agreements and the power they gave us, we were able to start protecting our rights in the fields by bringing 90% of the Florida tomato growers into the Fair Food Program. When the Program took root, for the first time there was a real change. 

With the Fair Food Program, we have prevented sexual harassment, we have prevented forced labor and modern slavery, and we have prevented discrimination.  For the first time in many decades, workers have a better salary. Through education and monitoring, workers now have a voice, because we can report abuses without fear of being fired, without constant threats.

But our struggle to expand these protections, to expand human rights, remains urgent – because outside the Fair Food Program, thousands of workers continue to be exposed to danger and abuse, from wage theft and sexual harassment to the most extreme abuse, modern slavery. 

That is why we continue the Campaign for Fair Food. 

For years, we have been asking Wendy’s to join the FFP, but instead of reaching an agreement with us, Wendy’s continues to turn its back on the risks that workers face in its supply chains. Despite our marches, fasts, and delegations, no action has been able to make Wendy’s leaders open their eyes to reality. 

So we followed the money.  We turned to major Wendy’s investors Blackrock, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo.  As part of our recent actions in Palm Beach and New York City, we delivered our messages to representatives of those companies as major investors in Wendys.  We want them to know about the abuses that agricultural workers face, that workers face poverty and danger every day, and no one protects and cares for them. We have made Wendy’s aware of these risks, but so far they have not done the one thing with a proven track record for eliminating these dangers – join the Fair Food Program. 

It was critical for us as farmworkers to speak directly to the powerful of Wall Street.  Although we know as workers that these company executives are very powerful people, we also know that our dignity is something that we are not willing to sell – especially now that we know how to protect it. 

Thanks to all of you who support our struggle.  We are grateful to be able to count on you. We know that we can make a fairer food industry together, and that money must not only serve to satisfy the greed of the powerful, but that it must be used to protect the human rights of the most vulnerable, those who put food on our tables.

Will you stand with Lupe and other farmworker leaders today? When Fair Food Sustainers give just $10 to $20 per month, it helps ensure that we can keep our movement going. Click here to get started!