"There are more of us outside in the cold demanding justice than those inside comfortably celebrating the 'modernization' of the flagship Wendy's," said Rev. Karl Stevens of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio on Monday.
Rev. Stevens was speaking outside the new Wendy's flagship restaurant in Dublin, where a ribbon-cutting ceremony was taking place inside to usher in the fast-food chain's new generation of stores that will include flat screen TVs, WiFi bars, lounge chairs, and fireplaces. Stevens stood in the cold and snow with about 100 other protesters, who sang songs about social justice and held signs asking Wendy's to support human rights in its tomato supply chain by joining the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' internationally-recognized Fair Food Program.
From the corporate media coverage of the event, central Ohioans would have no idea that there was a vigil outside the ribbon-cutting. The Columbus Dispatch and WOSU Public Media released puff pieces extolling the wonders of the high-tech restaurant and the historical memorability on display. Their news coverage made no mention of the vigil outside.
Wendy's is an iconic brand in which central Ohioans take justifiable pride. The food chain was born in Columbus, and under founder Dave Thomas' leadership, it developed an admirable legacy of being socially responsible.
But no corporation should be exempt from public scrutiny and criticism. It's the responsibility of the news media to tell both sides of the story. The mainstream media in Columbus had ample notification that the vigil was going to take place, but they chose to ignore it.
The same thing happened on November 16, when over 200 protesters marched from the Wendy's in the OSU Gateway district to the store on Olentangy River Road. TV news reporters were on the scene, but none of the stations ran the story.
The protesters at Monday's vigil have a story to tell. Simply put, they want Wendy's to apply Dave Thomas's founding values — "Treat People with Respect," "Give Something Back," and "Do The Right Thing" — to the farm workers whose labor keeps them supplied with tomatoes to serve their customers.