“If you’re going to make an impression, come to the place where the chairman is on holiday”…

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More than 500 marchers stretch from end to end of the bridge that connects West Palm Beach to Palm Beach on Saturday, as the ten-day Workers’ Voice Tour wrapped up with a massive protest and rally in the exclusive barrier island community where Nelson Peltz, billionaire hedge fund manager and Wendy’s Chairman of the Board, has a vacation home.

Ethel Kennedy joins workers from Immokalee, consumers from across Florida, as Workers’ Voice Tour rolls through Palm Beach calling on Wendy’s board chair and part-time resident Nelson Peltz to support farmworkers’ fundamental human rights!

Marking the end of an historic ten-day tour — a tour that started with the declaration of a national Wendy’s Boycott in New York City and continued with a massive march through Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio — farmworkers and their consumer allies saved the best for last on Saturday with a 2.7-mile march on the exclusive island community of Palm Beach, filling the streets with over 500 exuberant marchers calling on Wendy’s to join the award-wining Fair Food Program.

Local coverage of the action reflected its extraordinary impact on the normally quiet island enclave, home to such luminaries as Rush Limbaugh, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, Donald Trump:

 

You can find more television coverage of Saturday’s protest here: “Hundreds of Farmworkers Gather on Palm Beach to Protest Wendy’s,” (ABC News affiliate, WPBF).

Likewise, the local newspaper coverage gave the march top billing in Sunday papers around the south Florida area, and mention in hundreds of papers across the country.  From the Sun Sentinel (Farmworkers’ call for fair wages resounds on Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue”):

Ethel Kennedy (center), widow of Robert Kennedy, sits with grandson-in-law, Liam Kerr (left) and the Rev. Matt Malone a Jesuit priest, after Saturday's march.

Ethel Kennedy (bottom left, center), widow of Robert Kennedy, sits with grandson-in-law, Liam Kerr (left) and the Rev. Matt Malone a Jesuit priest, after Saturday’s march.  Photo Anne Geggis/Sun Sentinel

… The protest attracted people from all over Florida and as far away as Texas. Ethel Kennedy, a Palm Beach resident and widow of Sen. Robert Kennedy, also made the 2.7-mile march with farmworkers, students and others.

“We live in privilege while our neighbors in our fine state are starving, even as we prosper from their work.” said Kristen Carr, 43, who brought her daughters, ages 13 and 11, to the march.

The protesters received honks of approval and some taunts.

Julia de la Cruz, 32, who has picked tomatoes for 10 years since coming to Immokalee from Mexico, was thrilled. “We are extremely excited because there are so many people supporting us,” she said through an interpreter.

Palm Beach police Capt. Curtis Krauel said 15 extra police were brought on duty to manage the protest, which he called a success. So did onlooker Charles Watt, 65, of Norfolk, England, who admired the marchers’ organization and numbers.

“If you’re going to make an impression, come to the place where the chairman is on holiday,” he said.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers organizer Santiago Perez congratulated all the marchers in Spanish: “The people in this town saw for the first time the faces of people who pick their food… Their reality is tied to our reality and they can’t continue to ignore us.”

You can find more newspaper coverage of yesterday’s action here (Hundreds protesting against Wendy’s march through Palm Beach,” Palm Beach Daily News) and here (“Farmworkers protest by home of Wendy’s billionaire chairman,” AP).

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Protesters make their way down Royal Palm Way Saturday. Photo by Meghan McCarthy/Palm Beach Daily News

Of course, not to be outdone by the commercial media, we have our own coverage of Saturday’s remarkable action, including an exclusive video and a first-hand photo report.

First up is the video, the final video from a tour that produced several great ones (all of which you can find at the CIW’s YouTube page, in case you haven’t seen them yet or you just want to reminisce about what was truly an unforgettable tour and its many highlights):

Then check back soon for our next (and final) update from the Workers’ Voice Tour, with a photo report from the Palm Beach march and a complete media round up from the Tour, from New York to Palm Beach.

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Our thanks go out again to everyone who made this remarkable ten-day tour possible.  Eleven years ago, we won the seminal Taco Bell boycott and established the founding principles of the Fair Food Program.  We launched that boycott in 2001 in near total obscurity — the CIW was entirely unknown outside of Florida, there were no social media (Twitter, YouTube and Facebook were still years away from coming into being), and the idea that “Taco Bell makes farmworkers poor” was so new that it took a tremendous effort just to explain the concept, not to mention to convince tens of thousands of consumers to take action and demand that Taco Bell do the right thing!  But four years later, Taco Bell signed the first Fair Food agreement, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, the Fair Food movement enjoys many important advantages over 2001 as we launch the Wendy’s boycott, only the second boycott in the 15-year history of the Campaign for Fair Food.  Already, tens of thousands of consumers support the Fair Food Program and, already, countless consumers have pledged to join the Wendy’s Boycott (which you can do, too, if you haven’t already).  The Fair Food Program is not only a known entity, but it is proven and widely considered the most effective approach to enforcing workers’ fundamental human rights in corporate supply chains in the country today.  And social media are already playing an important — and often truly imaginative — role in spreading the word, with people in the street tweeting photos of the Tour flyer, for example, and multiplying its effect by a factor of their many friends and followers.  

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A seemingly endless stream of marchers leaves Howard Park in West Palm Beach Saturday and bend around a lake toward the bridge to Palm Beach on the final day of the Workers’ Voice Tour.

But that doesn’t mean that the Wendy’s Boycott will be easy.  We may have more weapons at our disposal that we could have even imagined in 2001, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves, this will take exactly the same kind of hard, person-to-person, campus-to-campus, town-to-town work that we did then to win this boycott now.  But we’ve done it before, and we are confident that we can do it again.

We’re ready.  Are you?  

Pledge to join the Wendy’s Boycott today, and help us spread the word!  Then check back soon for the photo report from Saturday’s big march and for a complete media round up from the Workers’ Voice Tour.

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