The Student/Farmworker Alliance, along with farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, will participate in a march for the national “Boot the Braids” campaign in protest of Wendy’s on Friday.
The march will begin at noon at Goodale Park and will feature speakers from the CIW based in Immokalee, Florida, where Wendy’s sources it tomatoes. Around 1 p.m., an expected 800 students and workers will march down High Street for 2 miles and have a picket outside Wendy’s. They will finish the march with a protest outside Bricker Hall.
The purpose of the march is to tell the university to end its contracts with Wendy’s after the fast-food chain has refused to sign on to the Fair Food Program.
The FFP is a partnership among farmers, farmworkers and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables on participating farms. The FFP’s wants major contractors provide a Fair Food Code of Conduct for the tomato growers they hire in Florida.
Rachael Birri, a third-year in environmental science and a member of the Ohio State branch of the SFA, said Wendy’s refuses to sign on to the FFP.
“Instead of signing on to the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s has instead developed their own code of conduct, which just outlines their auditing practices,” Birri said. “It is not very long and is not a legally binding document that can be enforced by a third party.”
She also spoke about instances of sexual assault cases against some of the food growers Wendy’s partners with.
“In the court which Wendy’s is trusting, there have been instances where growers have raped their female employees, but within the court of law, nothing happened,” Birri said. “They did not receive any repercussions, where under the Fair Food Program, that would result in immediate firing.”
Elizabeth Drake, Wendy’s corporate communications manager, said the CIW campaign is “designed to extract a financial commitment” from Wendy’s.
“The Coalition of Immokalee Workers continues to spread false and misleading information about Wendy’s,” she said. “We have always been committed to fair wages and human rights for those who supply our food. We require labor and human rights assurances for all of our fresh produce suppliers.”
Boot the Braids protest tours have been taking place across the country since 2016, and the CIW still maintains that Wendy’s has not taken appropriate action to help workers.