"On this Valentine's Day, we're asking Wendy's corporate leaders to have a heart," said community organizer Rubén Castilla Herrera during a February 14 rally outside a Wendy's restaurant on the OSU campus.
Ohio Fair Food is an alliance of community activists in Columbus and Cincinnati who support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' campaign for fair wages and safe working conditions for farm workers in Florida, where tomatoes used in Wendy's hamburgers and salads are grown.
"Florida sounds like a nice place to be now, right? It's warmer there," Herrera said. "But remember that in the fields, there are people laboring where the vegetables are grown for us to enjoy in the winter time.
"We're all connected. The food that we eat is a center for justice. We all eat, and that food is produced and picked and provided to us by hard labor. This is not a boycott. We want to support Wendy's. But we want them to support justice."
"We want to work as partners with Wendy's," said Sameerah Ahmad, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center. "We're not really protesting them. We just want Wendy's to join the other companies, like McDonald's and Burger King, in supporting farm workers."
"As a group, we define 'sweatshops' as any place where workers are facing injustices, and that includes the workers in the fields in Immokalee," said Rob Amedeo, regional organizer for United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS).
USAS was instrumental in the the CIW's first successful fair food campaign in 2005, when Taco Bell signed an agreement to pay a penny more per pound for fresh tomatoes, to be paid directly to the workers who harvest them, and to buy tomatoes only from suppliers who enforce a code of conduct that ensures fair and safe working conditions in the fields.
A small delegation went into the Wendy's restaurant and spoke with the store manager about the CIW's fair food program. The manager agreed to share a letter from the delegation with his upper management.
After the rally, another delegation visited Wendy's corporate headquarters in Dublin, but no Wendy's officials were available to meet with them.