Can’t-miss radio: Public Radio International story brilliantly captures Fair Food Program success in fight against sexual harassment in the fields!

CIW Education Team members use a drawing during a recent worker-to-worker education session on a Fair Food Program farm to discuss the issue of sexual harassment.

Public Radio International: “As the list of powerful men accused of sexual harassment grows, a group of women have managed to stop harassment in the tomato fields of Florida…”

PLUS: Huge news out of New York… the New York Episcopal Diocese formally endorses the Wendy’s Boycott!

Big news is breaking fast these days in the world of Fair Food, so please bear with us as we bring you not one but two headlines in today’s update…

First up, if you’ll recall, just a little over two weeks ago a major editorial in the Sunday New York Times singled out the Fair Food Program (FFP) as a national model for “how to change the culture” of sexual harassment in the workplace.  At the time, the Times editorial board identified the “swift and clear” market consequences that underlie the enforcement power of the Fair Food Program — and that have, after six years in practice, paved the way to the actual prevention of sexual abuse in the fields — as an essential mechanism for addressing the phenomenon of sexual harassment on the national stage:

… But speaking up only goes so far if employers don’t make reporting harassment easy or the consequences for harassers swift and clear. Treating sexual harassment seriously is essential, not to protect against liability or to safeguard the bottom line, but because it’s wrong for anyone to have to endure harassment at work. (Though it sure helps when liability and the bottom line are at stake, too.)

Some of the nation’s largest companies are moving in the right direction. For example, McDonald’s, Burger King, Aramark and Walmart have signed on to a program requiring their tomato growers to adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits sexual harassment and assault of farmworkers, and provides a clear system for the growers’ 30,000 workers to file complaints. Fourteen businesses are part of the program; many more should join… (read more)

Yesterday, Public Radio International aired an 8-minute story on the CIW’s Fair Food Program that picks up where the New York Times editorial left off, taking a deep dive into the FFP’s history, the program’s unique enforcement mechanisms, and its exemplary success in not just combating, but ending sexual harassment and assault in the fields.  

Check out the tweet below to hear the remarkable story in its entirety.  It is the day’s top story and lasts roughly through the 9-minute mark, so grab a cup of coffee and a settle in for an extraordinary bit of radio that answers the question of just how some of the poorest, least powerful women in the nation managed to solve a problem that has vexed this country — and women of every economic and educational class — for as long as anyone can remember: 

New York Episcopal Diocese endorses the Wendy’s Boycott!

In a major development in New York’s massive faith community, the New York Episcopal Diocese — a formidable presence itself in the Big Apple, representing nearly 60,000 members across the city and surrounding counties — formally endorsed the Wendy’s Boycott! 

The CIW’s Harvest without Violence mobile exhibit (above) was set up outside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine last weekend, coinciding with the 241st Convention of the Episcopal Diocese.  In his opening remarks, Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, the esteemed Bishop of the Diocese, included the Coalition in his remarks:

If you wander the Cathedral Close today you will find an exhibition in the circular patio surrounding the Peace Statue entitled Harvest Without Violence.  The exhibition is in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which advocates in Florida for migrant workers even as Rural and Migrant Ministries does here in New York.  I am not going to speak at any length about that now, but I commend the exhibition to you so that this convention may receive a resolution, rising from my address, regarding this organization and the workers.  That resolution, with accompanying history and explanation, will come to you immediately following this address.

Later in the day, after many attendees had had a chance to be guided through the mobile museum by the CIW’s Oscar Otzoy and Julia de la Cruz, Rev. Stephen Holton introduced a resolution from the floor in support of the Wendy’s Boycott.  Here is the resolution, a succinct and irrefutable argument for the urgency of the boycott:

WHEREAS, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an award-winning farmworker-based human rights organization, has taken on the giants of Big Agriculture and built a new system of labor protection called the Fair Food Program, and

WHEREAS, in five short years since its implementation, the Fair Food Program has prevented modern-day slavery and sexual violence, improved farmworker wages, and guaranteed basic safety protections for workers, and

WHEREAS, the penny-per-pound Fair Food Premium is received annually by approximately 35,000 farmworkers and their families (1), with participating companies having funneled over $20 million in Fair Food Premiums to improve workers’ wages since 2011, and

WHEREAS, 14 major fast food and supermarket chains have signed on to Fair Food, including Taco Bell (Yum Brands), McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Chipotle, and WalMart, and

WHEREAS, Wendy’s has sought to circumvent participation in the Fair Food Program by abandoning Florida to source its tomatoes from Mexico, buying tomatoes from a grower (2) whose labor camps are associated with extreme poverty, violent abuse, substandard housing, child labor and wage theft, and

WHEREAS, The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is leading a nationwide boycott of Wendy’s, to pressure the fast-food giant to join its competitors and participate in a worker-led social responsibility system that links corporate accountability with labor justice from farm to table, and

WHEREAS, the National Council of Churches endorsed the Wendy’s Boycott last month…

Right before the resolution went up for a vote, Oscar Otzoy of the CIW addressed the convention, stepping up to the mic to share his own experiences as a farmworker and organizer.  Carried by the strength of his testimony, the resolution passed with a sweeping vote in favor, making New York the second Episcopal Diocese to endorse the boycott (following the endorsement of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio last year)!

… RESOLVED that the Diocese of New York endorse the Wendy’s boycott, and raise our moral voice to call on Wendy’s to protect the human rights of farmworkers by joining the Fair Food Program.

Oscar Otzoy of CIW (second from left) with Rev. Stephen Holton, Rev. Yamily Bass-Choate, Liaison for Global Mission for the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and Lisa Schubert, Vice President at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Stay tuned for next week’s major action in New York City!

PHOTO REPORT: Hundreds of allies and farmworkers march in Miami, Washington DC in support of dignity for women in the fields!

Women farmworkers to Wendy’s, Publix:  “We will never go back to the way it was before, living every day with exploitation — we want all women to have the experience of working with dignity.”This past weekend, the brisk fall weather drew hundreds of farmworkers and allies out onto the sidewalks in both Miami, Florida, and Washington, DC, for two high-spirited protests in support of Fair Food.  Galvanized by the explosive national conversation about the widespread epidemic of sexual harassment in the workplace, the marchers took action to put a stop to sexual violence in U.S. agricultural fields — the very fields where observers […]

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Whole Foods: Fair Food tomatoes and strawberries a “Top Food Trend for 2018”!

Retailer’s annual forecast of “up-and-coming flavors, products, and culinary influences” singles out Fair Food tomatoes and strawberries as perfect way to “Try the Trend” of consumers’ growing demand for transparency in 2018…Every year about this time, Whole Foods releases its predictions of the “Top Food Trends” for the coming year.  It is the retailer’s most anticipated annual press release and is picked up widely in national media, with outlets from Time Magazine to USA Today running stories highlighting Whole Foods’ picks for what figure to be the hottest trends in the food market in the year ahead.  This year, Whole Foods is […]

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Starting today (Friday, 11/10), the Harvest without Violence Campaign hits New York City!

Farmworker women take fight to end sexual violence to the doorstep of Wendy’s Board Chair, Nelson Peltz…CIW Women’s Group to remind Peltz of his fellow CEO’s words of warning (Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook):  “If you know something is happening and you fail to take action, whether you are a man or a woman — especially when you are in power — you are responsible, too.”Starting today, Friday, November 10, and continuing through Nov. 20th, the CIW’s new “Harvest without Violence” mobile exhibit is hitting the Big Apple! After weeks with no response to the CIW Women’s Group’s powerful letter to Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz, farmworkers […]

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BREAKING: National faith leaders announce major Wendy’s Boycott fast and action for January 18, 2018, on the 20th anniversary of farmworkers’ 30-day hunger strike!

Faith leaders: “Clergy of all faiths have the singular privilege in their societal location to raise the moral issue of the human rights abuses faced by farmworkers, to give of their time and resources to the building of a new economy. It is vital, in the spirit of unity and justice, that we respond to that call.”United Church of Christ General Minister and President Rev. John Dorhauer, author and public theologian Brian McLaren (right), and 30+ clergy commit to National Day of Fasting and Witness in January, with more on their way…On January 18, 2018, faith leaders from around the country […]

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PHOTO REPORT: Students nationwide give Wendy’s an “F” for failing to respect farmworker women!

Last week, the Student/Farmworker Alliance turned up the heat on Wendy’s with the “Wendy’s, You’re Failing Farmworker Women” national Week of Action!  The high-energy week was kicked off on Monday, October 24th by students from Ohio State University, who stood shoulder to shoulder with the CIW Women’s Group to demand an end to sexual violence in the fields — first with a delegation to OSU President Drake’s office and later on with an action on Wendy’s doorstep at the company’s national headquarters in Dublin, OH. Over the course of the following week, over a dozen schools, from Florida to Vermont, followed […]

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NY Times editorial on ending sexual harassment: “14 businesses are part of the [Fair Food] Program; many more should join.”

New York Times editorial board asks, “Has America at last reached a turning point on sexual harassment?”; Editorial singles out CIW’s Fair Food Program as national model for “how to change the culture” of sexual harassment in the workplace;Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: “If you know something is happening and you fail to take action, whether you are a man or a woman — especially when you are in power — you are responsible, too.”In an extraordinary editorial, the Sunday New York Times took on the issue of sexual harassment, examining its explosive surge into the national conversation, its deep cultural, economic, and legal roots, […]

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Part Two: “We are not victims — we are not asking for charity, we are calling for justice!”

Farmworker Women to Wendy’s executives: “We want to work with dignity in the fields.”Last Sunday, farmworkers stood alongside religious leaders from across the city of Columbus, Wendy’s hometown, for a moving interfaith service at First Congregational United Church of Christ.  The next morning, it was time for action. With spirits buoyed by the support of the Columbus community, CIW members headed to Ohio State University carrying a beautiful quilt composed of patches stitched together and designed by Immokalee farmworkers.  The quilt gave voice to the workers’ experiences with sexual harassment and violence in the fields, to their thoughts on the extraordinary transformation brought about […]

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Part One: CIW Women’s Group Harvest without Violence Tour arrives in Columbus!

Farmworkers debut new Harvest without Violence Mobile Exhibit, join forces with religious leaders from across Columbus, ahead of protest at Wendy’s corporate headquarters…This past weekend, the CIW Women’s Group, accompanied by CIW members and allies, rolled into Columbus, Ohio, on the first of two Harvest without Violence Tours.  The ensuing days were a whirlwind of consumer education and action in support of the workers’ demand that Wendy’s take responsibility for — and help end — violence against farmworker women in its supply chain by joining the Fair Food Program.  The weekend’s jam-packed agenda included the debut of the new Harvest without Violence Mobile Exhibit, a moving […]

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CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo: “Only together were we able to break our silence…”

The Together Live Tour — the nationwide event featuring U.S. Soccer Superstar Abby Wambach, New York Times bestselling author Glennon Doyle, and the CIW’s own Lupe Gonzalo — has swept through six cities at a whirlwind pace over the last four  weeks.  Following shows in San José, Phoenix, and Austin, the show bounced to Washington, DC, Nashville, and Minneapolis!  Today, we bring you highlights from the powerhouse tour, which is now in its final stretch as it heads to Chicago and Philadelphia.Starting in Washington, DC, Glennon followed Lupe’s presentation with a new reflection on the long and critically important history of immigration in the […]

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CIW’s Greg Asbed named 2017 MacArthur Fellow!

Prestigious award calls Worker-driven Social Responsibility “visionary strategy… with potential to transform workplace environments across the global supply chain.”The CIW’s Fair Food Program, and the broader Worker-driven Social Responsibility paradigm of which the FFP was the pioneering model, received perhaps their most significant recognition to date when the MacArthur Foundation announced this year’s list of recipients of the acclaimed MacArthur Fellowship. In making the announcement last week, Cecilia Conrad, Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, described the broad range of pursuits of this year’s recipients:“From transforming conditions for low-wage workers to identifying internet security vulnerabilities, from celebrating the African American string band […]

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Farmworker women to Wendy’s CEO: “Sexual violence has been our daily bread for decades”…

CIW Women’s Group pens powerful letters to Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor & Board Chair Nelson Peltz to educate company leaders on farmworker women’s struggle against sexual harassment and assault in the fields, request meeting to discuss sexual violence against women in Wendy’s supply chain face-to-face;Penegor and Peltz’s response to date?  Two weeks of silence, and counting…Also: CIW puts final touches on impressive “Harvest without Violence” mobile exhibit as workers in Immokalee and Ohio allies prepare for next Monday’s big action at Wendy’s headquarters!Two weeks ago, the CIW Women’s Group sent a letter to Wendy’s CEO, Mr. Todd Penegor, and another to Wendy’s […]

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Ben & Jerry’s CEO: “It’s an agreement that puts the worker in charge of workers’ rights.”

Enrique Balcazar of Migrant Justice: “It is a great victory and an honor for us dairy workers to expand [the Worker-driven Social Responsibility] model to the dairy industry of Vermont.”CEO Jostein Solheim: “We really believe this is going to travel. This is going to travel across the nation.”Yesterday’s big announcement of the Milk with Dignity agreement between Migrant Justice and Ben & Jerry’s — an agreement three years in the making — caught the attention of major media outlets, from the New York Times to the AP to Vermont Public Radio.  It also made its way onto the radar screen of […]

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ANNOUNCING: Farmworker women launch “Harvest without Violence” campaign to end sexual violence in Wendy’s supply chain!

This fall, CIW Women’s Group hits the road with major Wendy’s Boycott mobilizations in Columbus (Oct. 14-23), NYC (Nov. 10-20), launching new mobile museum on sexual violence in agriculture…CIW Women’s Group:  “If we don’t speak up, we give up, and we will never give up.  We are building a path of respect and dignity for ourselves, for our daughters, for all workers.”If you had a choice between purchasing a tomato from:a) a farm where you know farmworker women face a daily barrage of vulgar comments, rampant sexual violence, and unchecked retaliation for speaking out about abuse, orb) a farm where you know women are treated with respect, and abusers face […]

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Harvard Business Review counts Fair Food Program among “most important social-impact success stories of the past century” in new article on “Audacious Philanthropy”…

HBR: “We studied 15 social movements that defied the odds and achieved life-changing results to uncover lessons for today’s ambitious donors.”In a remarkable article on strategic philanthropy in its Sept./Oct. 2017 issue, the Harvard Business Review identified the CIW’s Fair Food Program as one “of the most important social-impact stories of the past century” and a prime example of the kind of successful social change that is possible with the support of what they term “Audacious Philanthropy,” an approach to philanthropy that demands “disruptive, catalytic, systemic change.”  The article — which places the Fair Food Program in the company of 14 other extraordinary […]

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CNN on Fair Food Program: “How America’s ‘ground-zero’ for modern slavery was cleaned up by workers’ group…”

Alejandrina Carrera, worker on FFP farm: “You’re not going to be harassed, you’re not going to be insulted, you’re not going to be forced to work. There’s more respect now.”In an exceptional video series, CNN Freedom Project lifts up FFP as “most comprehensive social responsibility program in U.S. agriculture”…This week, the award-winning team at the CNN Freedom Project — a new series designed to “amplify the voices of the victims of modern-day slavery, highlight success stories and help unravel the tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life” — turned its spotlight on the CIW and the Fair Food Program, and the result is nothing short […]

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