Every movement is born somewhere. The Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) was born in Feb. 2000, at the March for Dignity organized by the SFA’s longtime partner, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). The CIW is a worker-led human rights organization that is built on a foundation of farmworker community organizing. It has been internationally recognized for its achievements in social responsibility and combating human trafficking and gender-based violence in the workplace. The SFA is a national coalition of students organizing with the CIW to create a just, dignified working environment for farmworkers. Many New College students have organized with the CIW and their ongoing Wendy’s Boycott, and this March, have the chance to do so again.
“The low wages and hostile working conditions faced by farmworkers isn’t something that gets enough attention when we talk about where our food comes from,” third-year Aiden Juge said. Juge has been involved with the SFA since learning about it through Students Targeting Oppressive Powers (STOP) his first year.
The CIW created the Fair Food Program (FFP), a model for worker-driven social responsibility that involves the signing of agreements between farmworkers, growers and retail buyers to reduce human rights abuses in the supply chain. The SFA has continued to partner with the CIW for the last 20 years in its fights for FFP agreements. FFP agreements have been established with several fast food companies through boycotts of those fast food establishments until they agreed to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers in the companies’ produce supply chain. The SFA and the CIW have established FFP agreements with Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, Whole Foods, Walmart and Subway. Wendy’s remains a core focus of their action, as Wendy’s—along with Publix—has held out on signing the agreement.
The SFA’s “Boot the Braids” campaign is an attempt to force Wendy’s to come to the negotiating table. The SFA has organized this campaign on college campuses around the country, encouraging students to boycott Wendy’s and pressure their schools to eliminate licensing agreements with the corporation.
The SFA’s current call to action is a “4 for Fair Food” tour, from Mar. 2-14, 2019. Farmworkers from Immokalee, Florida will be visiting University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville to spread the message about Wendy’s refusal to join other fast food companies in signing FFP agreements.
“Since Florida is very involved in the produce industry and Immokalee is only a couple hours away from here, it’s a local issue as well as national one,” Juge said. “Working with the CIW is great because it’s a worker-led organization, and the FFP is already proven to be successful in raising wages and preventing human rights violations, so we know that getting Wendy’s to sign on will directly improve workers’ lives.”
Students who are interested in participating in the “4 for Fair Food” tour have the opportunity to join the Gainesville march on Mar. 14. A bus will be on campus to bring students to and from the event. The bus departs New College at 8:30 a.m. and leaves Gainesville at 9 p.m.
To join SFA’s action on Mar. 14, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the event at UF visit ciw-online.org or check out the Facebook event at facebook.com/events/758135674568296/.
Information for this article was gathered from sfalliance.org, boycott-wendys.org and ciw-online.org.