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Bicycling advocates ride to Wendy's to support farm workers

Bike repair cooperatives and non-profit bike collectives are becoming increasingly popular around the world. Over Labor Day weekend, the Bike!Bike! annual international conference was held at the Third Hand Bicycle Co-op in Columbus. Hundreds of bicycling advocates gathered for workshops and networking events to develop ways to make local communities safer and more bike-friendly.

On Sunday, participants in the international Bike!Bike! conference cycled from the Third Hand Bicycle Co-op to two Wendy's restaurants to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
On Sunday, participants in the international Bike!Bike! conference cycled from the Third Hand Bicycle Co-op to two Wendy's restaurants to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
Steve Palm-Houser

On Sunday Bike!Bike! attendees partnered with farm worker rights groups on a ride to two Wendy's locations to persuade the fast food chain to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' program for farm worker rights. "As we gather in Columbus, it's important that we understand and support farm worker justice, especially since Wendy's is located right here," said BikeBike! organizer Jason Mulhausen.

Ohio Fair Food members led a group of 60 cyclists on a ride from Third Hand to join 40 allies already rallying at the Wendy's at 1054 East Broad Street. A delegation of four attempted to enter the store, but the manager stopped them at the door and asked them to leave.

"Our bike projects are founded on community, justice, and creating a space where everybody can live and cooperate together," said Rita Antrit of Third Hand, who was one of the delegates."We still live in a capitalist world, so the least we can do is support the farm workers. The CIW's Fair Food Program is asking for basic rights — a living wage and safe working conditions so they can support their families."

Another delegate was Henry Peller, a member of the Student/Farmworker Alliance and the Real Food Challenge at the Ohio State University. "Food is an issue that unites us all," he said. "Regardless of where you're from, regardless of your upbringing, we all have to eat every day. But we rely on incredible systems of oppression and exploitation to make it happen. We can do better. Our public institutions can do better."

Wendy's CEO Emil Brolick was president of Taco Bell in 2005 when it was the first corporation to sign an agreement with the CIW. Brolick publicly supported the Fair Food Program then, but today as Wendy's CEO, he doesn't.

"We want Emil Brolick to be true to his words and join the Fair Food Program," said Ohio Fair Food organizer Nick Pasquarello. "Until he does, we will bike, walk, rally and take our fight to the people of Ohio and to as many Wendy's restaurants as possible. We will win this!"

A smaller contingent of cyclists continued on to the Wendy's at 799 South High Street. The manager there also denied entry to a delegation and refused to accept their letter to Emil Brolick and Wendy's board of directors.